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Events with Member Picks

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Outsider Art: The Collection of Victor F. Keen Recommended Member Picks Free All Ages Agenda

2/6-9/7


M

ore than 40 works of art from the most well-known outsider artists will be exhibited from the collection of Victor F. Keen. These works operate outside of the mainstream art world. Opening reception 2/5, 5-8pm. 312-243-9088

Chicago Underground Comedy Recommended Member Picks Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Tue 9:30 PM
Beat Kitchen 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Roscoe Village

Buy Tickets$10; 21+


A benchmark for local stand-up comics takes the form of a slot at Chicago Underground Comedy—a weekly, curated showcase with the occasional former Chicagoan headlining. Think T.J. Miller, Hannibal Buress, Cameron Esposito, or John Mulaney. 773-281-4444

Dream Freaks Fall From Space Member Picks

Open run: Wed-Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, Sun 4 PM, Tue 8 PM
Second City 1616 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

Buy Tickets$29-$46


Second City is in denial. Donald Trump is our president, and along with that comes a host of issues regarding race, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and police brutality, among other things. The cast of the brand-new yet already outdated main-stage revue Dream Freaks Fall From Space tackle these loaded topics by mentioning them, then moving right along. And speaking of denial, scenes break one of the most fundamental rules of improvisation—embody the spirit of "yes, and . . . " to complement your partner onstage. Here instead actors deny ideas with "What are you talking about?" Second City is the tentpole of Chicago comedy for the rest of the country, but Dream Freaks feels like it was concocted in an intermediate-level improv class where mere nods get laughs and politics get skewered with Pixy Stix. Continue reading >> 312-337-3992

The Harold Recommended Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Wed-Thu 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10:30 PM, Sat 10:30 PM, Sun 8 PM, Mon 10:30 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park


Improv teams use an audience suggestion to create interweaving story lines that result in a connected long-form narrative.

Cole's Comedy Open Mike Recommended Member Picks Free 21+ Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m.
Cole’s 2338 N. Milwaukee, Chicago Logan Square


UPDATE: as of Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at 11:00 PM, this event has been canceled until further notice. A virtual open mike has been scheduled in its place.


Hosted by Carly Kane and Alex Kumin, this scrappy showcase boasts about 50 comics a week. 773-276-5802

The Paper Machete Member Picks Free

Open run: Wed 6:30 PM, Sat 3 PM
Green Mill 4802 N. Broadway St., Chicago Uptown


The "salon in a saloon." Comedians, writers, and storytellers discuss the week in pop culture and politics. 773-878-5552

Comedians You Should Know Recommended Member Picks Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Thu 9 PM


A mix of barflys and independent comedy fans flocks to this weekly showcase, one of the best in the city. The room is friendly, and if hecklers appear, they're shut down affably by Chicago's top stand-ups. It's not a place to try out new material, so the comedians hit jokes hard. And the audience, sitting close and around the stage like a big hug, welcomes the change of pace from the bar's drunk tomfoolery. CYSK is an appropriate name. 312-642-0700

ComedySportz Theatre Recommended Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10 PM, Sat 6, 8, and 10 PM
ComedySportz Theatre 929 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy from Ticketmaster$19


Part of a national chain of comedy clubs, this company is known for quick improv games (think Whose Line Is It Anyway?), but it also stages long-form improv. LCD screens and sophisticated lighting and sound systems amplify the sports-style improv of the company's eponymous production, ComedySportz. There's a snobbery in the Chicago improv community that looks up at the "art" of the long form, with its emphasis on story and characters, and down on the "entertainment" of the short, with its emphasis on games and punch lines. ComedySportz falls emphatically in the entertainment camp; its bottom line is laughter, and it gets plenty of it. The show is structured as a competition between two teams performing multiple games that require audience participation. A referee ensures that the players--a rotating roster from a company of about 50--work clean or they finish the game with a brown bag over their heads. The formula is practically foolproof: players may flash their quick wits in winning responses, but they're even funnier when they fail. In one game a team had to devise a pick-up line, each member contributing a word. Moving rapidly from player to player, the line developed: "Tonight-I'll-tango-with-your-face." Probably wouldn't work at a bar, but at ComedySportz it killed. --Ryan Hubbard 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212

The Improvised Shakespeare Company Recommended Member Picks Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park


Seven strapping men in swashbuckler shirts improvise a two-act Shakespearean play based on a title suggested by the audience. At the show I saw, "The Taming of the Jew" inspired the Bard's usual themes (religion, family, betrayal) and plot devices (murders, disguises, fortunes gained/lost) as well as an uncomfortably funny circumcision. Director-performer Blaine Swen, a veteran of long-form Shakespearean improv who swears they don't conspire during the intermission, has assembled a vigorous ensemble of actors and proven improvisers. Their experience doing Shakespeare flowers in the language: they relish iambic dialogue, execute perfectly timed asides, occasionally utter rhyming couplets (some hilariously forced: "Let us be quick-sa, and get to the bar mitzvah!"), and drop parodic phrases ("scurvenous knave," "midfortnight report") and well-placed anachronisms (the bar mitzvah had a DJ). Even the ending echoed the real plays: story lines resolved tidily—and uproariously. —Ryan Hubbard

The Magic Parlour Recommended Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Through 7/1: Fri 7:30 and 9:30 PM, Sat 4:30, 7:30, and 9:30 PM
Palmer House Hilton 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago Loop


This magic show is exactly what it should be: funny, lively, intimate, and utterly baffling. House Theatre of Chicago member Dennis Watkins blends quick-witted improv and physical comedy with freewheeling patter as he performs classic illusions. Though his sleight of hand is impossibly subtle, it was the mind-reading tricks that seemed to have drawn several inquisitive skeptics back for another look on the night I attended. A curio-shop intimacy encourages audience participation, and Watkins, with his Eagle Scout looks, clearly takes a mischievous pleasure in the unexpected. Just let your cell phone go off during the show and see what kind of fun he has. Drinks (wine, beer, and soda) are included in the cost of admission. —Keith Griffith 312-726-7500

Wet Cash Recommended Member Picks Free Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Fri 8 PM
Dark Tower Comics 4835 N. Western, Chicago Lincoln Square


Stand-up with a very big twist. Each week, performers at this showcase can do anything they want. One time, they ran a show where everybody on the bill and in the audience was named Derek. Plus, all donations benefit the fishbowl they toss their money in—hence the title. Expect, well, everything. 773-654-1490

Second Friday Member Picks Free All Ages

Second Friday of every month, 6-10 p.m.


More than 30 art spaces in the Chicago Arts District around 18th and Halsted host receptions, open houses, and artists' talks. Maps available at 1821 S. Halsted. 312-738-8000, ext. 112

The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience & Hootennany Recommended Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Mon 8 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park


An old standby, this weekly show transforms performer monologues (delivered by a different guest each time) into inspiration for a night of masterful long-form improv. The best-of-the-best iO talent typically make up the cast, so the show hops from literal moments from the story to abstract, playful scenes with aplomb.

The Wild Party Variety Hour Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Open run: every last Saturday of the month, 11 PM
HQ 1914 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago Wicker Park/Bucktown


Burlesque, vaudeville, shtick, and other types of performance, hosted by Silent Theatre. 312-533-8023

Drive-By Truckers, Ryley Walker Member Picks 18+ Early Warnings (Music)

Sat., Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.
The Vic 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets


773-472-0449

Squarepusher, Hieroglyphic Being Member Picks 18+ Early Warnings (Music)

Thu., Dec. 3, 9 p.m.
Metro 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago Wrigleyville

Buy Tickets


rescheduled; tickets purchased for original date will be honored 773-549-0203