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31 results

The Harold

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.

Duck and Cover Classroom

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

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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

House Party

Open run: Sun 7 PM, Wed 8 PM
ComedySportz Theatre 929 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview


Game-based improv from ComedySportz's house teams. 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212

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

Ongoing
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.

Homolatte

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

Blue Man Group

Open run: Thu 8 PM; Fri 7 PM; Sat 2, 5, and 8 PM; Sun 4 and 7 PM
Briar Street Theatre 3133 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lakeview

Buy from Ticketmaster$49-$99


After 20 years and god knows how many bald caps and gallons of paint, this Chicago staple stays true to its mission: “Blue Man Group—enemy of monotony, remedy for boredom, promoter of overjoy and elation.” That experimental, interactive theater can remain both current and family friendly in equal measure speaks to the show's healthy mix of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it wit and larger-than-life clowning. Audience participation, voluntary and involuntary, is still a key component, whether it’s sharing Twinkies with the trio, donning a poncho in the splash zone, or being shamed as a latecomer, in showstopping fashion. Cultural references and parodies have certainly changed with the times (and devices), but the keys to Blue Man Group remain its hypnotic music and lively energy—if you’re not out of your seat dancing when the 90 minutes are up, you probably don’t have a pulse. —Marissa Oberlander 773-348-4000

Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, Sun 7 PM
Second City E.T.C. Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

Buy Tickets$19-$46


In the weeks and now days leading up to the inauguration, it seems like the jokes about Trump and the current state of our political climate are basically writing themselves. Between rumors of golden showers and the president-elect's meeting with Steve Harvey, it sometimes feels as if we're all living in one long political sketch. So where are comedians supposed to go from here? Continue reading >> 312-337-3992

Twisted Knots

Open run: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 4 PM


Longtime married couple Frank and Carla—a stressed-out salesman and an underappreciated nurse—try to get back their conjugal mojo by role-playing a call-girl scenario (Carla plays the call girl) in their hotel room on New Year’s Eve. The Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue provided furnishings and decor to lend verisimilitude to Greg Pinsoneault and Shaun Renfro’s set design in this production directed by Tara Branham. In fact, it’s Dale Danner’s script that could use some authenticity; the couple’s sex games and the husband’s much-discussed superstitious streak feel contrived and strained. Only when the charade is dropped toward the end do we glimpse genuine disappointment and fatigue. Ryan Kitley’s Frank seems detached from the proceedings, but Mary Cross turns in lively, tangy work as Carla. —Zac Thompson

The Infinite Wrench

Open run: Fri-Sat 11:30 PM, Sun 7 PM
Neo-Futurarium 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago Andersonville


Greg Allen gave and Greg Allen took away. On December 31, 2016, the Neo-Futurists founder made good on his promise to kill off the company's signature cult show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, ending an unprecedented run of 28 years. The current generation of ensemble members weren't happy. Now they've pretty much reconstituted TMLMTBGB in everything but name, running on the same schedule at the same venue with the same exuberance. Though their new baby is superficially different from the original (where before the plays were numbered, for instance, now they're color coded), it retains the identical goal of offering 30 original short plays in 60 minutes. The performance I saw lapsed occasionally into reductive political posturing, having more to do with tribal affirmation than revelation. But it also had its share of wit, insight, emotional frankness, and dancerly physicality. —Tony Adler 773-275-5255

We Gotta Bingo

Open run: Fri-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 5 PM
Chicago Theater Works 1113 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview


At Disney World, you can book a "character breakfast," which is what they call it when Goofy harasses you while you try to eat waffles. This show is sort of like that, only you're fed lasagna and the zany characters you’re forced to dance, play games, and otherwise interact with have a lot less depth than Goofy. The evening's premise is that the audience is attending a bingo night benefiting two Catholic congregations—a predominantly Italian-American one and a predominantly Irish-American one—that have recently merged. For some reason there are beer-hall Germans and a swishy gay guy on hand too. All the punch lines rely on tired stereotypes, but the jokes are so obvious they'll probably only offend your sense of humor. —Zac Thompson

Late Nite Catechism

Open run: Sat 5 PM, Sun 2 PM
Royal George Theatre Center 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lincoln Park

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A bona fide born-in-Chicago international hit, this simultaneously nostalgic and satirical comedy by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan concerns a nun instructing her students—that's you—on the dos and don'ts of dogma. —Jack Helbig 312-988-9000

The Best of Second City

Open run: Sat and Sun 4 PM, Mon 8 PM
Second City 1616 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

Buy TicketsPrices vary


The finest sketches, songs, and improvisations from the company's 50-year history, performed by Second City's roster of rising talent. 312-337-3992

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

Maxwell Street Market

7 AM - 3 PM
Maxwell Street Market 800 S. Des Plaines St, Chicago South Loop


Do you enjoy chomping on a fresh churro while sifting through weathered tools, ball caps, and odds and ends? Of course you do.

The Free for All

Open run: Sun 7:30 PM
Playground Theater 3209 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lakeview


An improv show of multiple groups, anchored by the four-man team Koleno. 773-871-3793

The Indie Hour

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


The Blue Angels weave personal monologues into improvised scenes.

ChicoMaloTrio

Sundays, 4 p.m.
Edgewater Lounge 5600 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago Edgewater


773-878-3343

jazz improv session

Sundays, 5 p.m.
Cafe Mestizo 1646 W. 18th St., Chicago Pilsen/Little Village


312-421-5920

Asylum Sundays

Open run: Sun 7 PM
Le Fleur de Lis 301 E. 43rd St., Chicago Bronzeville

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Poetry and performances with live band accompaniment by Verzatile. Includes networking. 708-932-0652

Uptown Poetry Slam

Sundays, 7 p.m.
Green Mill 4802 N. Broadway St., Chicago Uptown


Featuring open mike, special guests, and end-of-the-night competition. 773-878-5552

Fat Babies

Sundays, 8 p.m.
Honky Tonk BBQ 1800 S. Racine, Chicago Pilsen/Little Village


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. 312-226-7427

Nicholas Barron

Sundays, 10 PM
The Motel Bar 600 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago River West


312-822-2900

Kimberly Gordon Organ Trio

Sundays, 11 p.m.
Green Mill 4802 N. Broadway St., Chicago Uptown


773-878-5552

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

B.A.P.S.

Open run: third Tue of each month, 7 PM
iO Theater, The Mission Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Other North


Four black women—Adrienne Brown, Adrienne Brandyburg, Isabeau Dornevil, and Jillian Ebanks—curate this monthly show, inviting women, people of color, and other marginalized comedians. The foursome write sketches in support.