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Duck and Cover Classroom

Open run: daily, various times
The Time Gallery 1342 N. Milwaukee Ave., second floor, Chicago Wicker Park/Bucktown

I can't vouch for Escape Artistry's trumpeted dedication to "equality, environment, and education," but I can attest to the aesthetic and cryptological rigor of this tantalizing, exasperating, and ingenious escape-room game. After a cheeky introductory video instructing us newly deputized agents in the nuances of time travel (here walking down a hallway), we're locked in a drearily appointed 1950s schoolroom and given 60 minutes to decipher combinations to multiple locks in hopes of finding some missing uranium. I couldn’t track the backstory—something about two missing agents and the world’s first nuclear chain reaction—but lead designer Melissa Schlesinger’s stocked the room with mind-addling puzzles that delighted and ultimately baffled me (luckily I was trapped with smart people). Stick with it: the payoff is worth it. —Justin Hayford 773-789-9535

The Winner . . . of Our Discontent

Wed-Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM (except 12/31, 7 and 10 PM), Sun 7 PM (no show 12/25), Tue 8 PM; also Tue 12/20-Thu 12/22 and Tue 12/27-Thu 12/29, 11 PM
Second City 1616 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

Buy Tickets$19-$46

The Second City is nothing if not responsive. I mean, really: Nothing. Responsiveness is the whole point of an improv-based, satirical theater. The institution has no entertainment value if its ensemble members fail to respond to one another and no relevance if it fails to respond to the world. Continue reading >> 312-337-3992

Dream Freaks Fall From Space

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 The cast of the brand-new yet already outdated main-stage revue Dream Freaks Fall From Space tackle these loaded topics by mentioning them, then moving right along.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

Cascade Drive-In

Cascade Drive-In 1100 E. North Ave., West Chicago Other Suburbs West

When you go to a movie theater, there's a decent chance someone will sneeze and you'll contract a horrifying airborne monkey disease (or at least that's what I learned from Outbreak). Not a thing you have to worry about at the drive-in. Plus you can make out, it's BYOB, and it's under ten bucks for a double feature.


First and third Tue of month, 7:30 PM
Tweet Let's Eat 5020 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago Uptown

With Scott Free, featuring gay and lesbian spoken-word artists. 773-728-5576

What the Tour Guide Didn't Tell You: A Chicago Revue

Open run: Tue 8 PM, Sat-Sun 4 PM
Up Comedy Club 230 W. North Ave., Chicago Old Town

There's more to Chicago than Italian beef and the Magnificent Mile, as illustrated by this sketch show. 312-337-3992

A Scientist Walks Into a Bar

Tue 2/20 6:30 PM
Hideout 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., Chicago West Town/Noble Square

Field Museum scientists host weekly discussions on natural history topics ranging from urban farming to meteorites. 773-227-4433

Top-Notch Tuesdays

Open run: Tue 8:30 PM
Laugh Out Loud 3851 N. Lincoln, Chicago North Center

Chicago Improv Den’s Top-Notch Tuesdays is damn near foolproof. First, it’s got a built-in audience: with a rotating lineup of three improv teams each night (students, graduates, and “celebrated veterans”), two-thirds of the evening’s performers make up an enthusiastic crowd for the third on stage. Second, there’s a bar (the theater has more cup holders than seats). Third and most importantly, the talent is exceptional. On the night I attended, student team Earl Grey and graduate team Stacks showed equal facility generating crafty, elusive, peculiar ensemble scenes (a personal favorite: six people trying to determine how “realistic” Candy Crush is). And veteran duo Cherry Street (Lawrence Collerd and Laurel Krabacher) turned an intentionally dead-end tale of unimaginative surfer dudes into a poignant examination of bro loyalty. —Justin Hayford 773-857-6000

Chicago Underground Comedy

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

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

"RuPaul's Drag Race" Rewind Party

Tue 5:30 PM-2 AM
Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club 3700 N. Halsted St., Chicago Wrigleyville

Fans of the reality show can watch it projected on seven screens. Kit Kat house diva Jade, a past contestant, will make “special appearances.” 773-525-1111

Sears Tower

Open run: Tue 8:30 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park

The veteran improv ensemble performs. A different opening act warms up the audience each week.

Live Tonight With Kevin and Nick

Open run: Tue 10:30 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park

Nick Mestad and Kevin Knickerbocker host this talk show.

TNT (Tuesday Night Thing)

Open run: Tue 9:30 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

What we've got here are two six-member teams led by improv-world elder statesmen: the illustrious TJ Jagodowski performs with one, the redoubtable Noah Gregoropoulos with the other. Each team gets about 30 minutes in which to build a long-form improvisation. On the night I visited, things got interesting only when Jagodowski or Gregoropoulos stepped up to save his teammates from themselves. Jagodowski was especially impressive, quietly, casually supplying the focus, humor, well-wrought twists, and strong characters that nobody else seemed able to manage. Except for him, it was pretty much all drift. There was precious little development because there was precious little careful listening going on. —Tony Adler 773-697-9693

Show & Tell

Open run: Tue 8:30 PM
iO Theater, The Mission Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Other North

Second City, iO, Annoyance—Chicago's improv institutions are schools as well as theaters. But so far as I know, nobody has combined the two functions in a single entertainment until now. This series allows improvisers to, as the tagline goes, show you what they do and tell you how they do it. My experience will probably differ from yours. For one thing, the ensemble I saw comprised performers from various teams, so they weren't necessarily used to playing with one another; future installments will feature established teams. And the audience I sat with included lots of improv students, whose questions skewed the conversation toward technicalese; that may change as more civilians take part. What will likely remain the same is a format where players perform scenes, from duets to long-form Harolds, following each with a Q and A. If you're as lucky as I was, you'll see energetic, creative bits and learn something too. —Tony Adler

Jose Valdes Latin Jazz Trio

Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.
Green Dolphin Street 2200 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago DePaul


The Pool

Open run: Tue 8:30 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park

Improv performed by up-and-coming iO students.

Alison Ruble & Jeremy Kahn

Tuesdays, 9 p.m.
Drake Hotel 140 E. Walton Pl., Chicago Gold Coast/Mag Mile/Streeterville


Fat Babies

Tuesdays, 9 p.m.
Green Mill 4802 N. Broadway St., Chicago Uptown

With few exceptions, those practicing the sort of traditional jazz popularized in New Orleans and Chicago during the 20s and early 30s essentially believe and traffic in museum-grade preservation. They play for audiences living in time-travel fantasies, preferring to ignore the music made over the last 80 years as they seek Charleston partners. The members of Chicago’s Fat Babies might perform in shirtsleeves and neckties and meticulously record interpretations of the trad-jazz repertoire in glorious mono, but they also play music of other eras—whether it’s drummer Alex Hall working in the Flat Five or bassist Beau Sample storming through Jazz Manouche with Alfonso Ponticelli. The Fat Babies perform with such a vitality—never jacking up the pitch-perfect rhythm or playing postmodern games—that I don’t even see what they do as an act of reclamation. The ebullient polyphony and drive on their third album, Solid Gassuh (Delmark), is pure pleasure, a riot of motion and multilinear melody as banjoist Jake Sanders flails propulsive chords alongside the Baby Dodds-inspired rhythmic spill of Hall and Sample’s unerring pulse-and-harmony anchor. That leaves plenty of space for the raucous yet lyric playing of pianist Paul Asaro, reedists Jonathan Doyle and John Otto, trombonist Dave Bock, and cornetist Andy Schumm. While the occasional white-bread vocal might suggest a hokey costume party, there’s little to disrupt the spell these guys cast their long-running weekly residencies. 773-878-5552

Joe Barr, Joanna Connor

Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m.
Kingston Mines 2548 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lincoln Park


Pete Galanis Band with Marty Sammon

Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m.
Rosa's Lounge 3420 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago Logan Square


The Forced Transfer

Opens Tue 6/7
National Cambodian Heritage Museum 2831 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago Ravenswood

As a young Buddhist monk in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, during the 1960s, Kompha Seth studied the Brahmi alphabet and Magadhi—a root language of modern Khmer—which had been preserved and passed down for generations. Today, he's one of only a few Cambodians in the world who understands these dialects and their links to modern Khmer. Continue reading >> 773-506-1280