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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 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.

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

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

Manic Mondays

Open run: Mon 9 PM
Frances Cocktail Lounge 307 E. 75th, Chicago Other South

Lauded stand-ups Taneshia "Just Nesh" Rice and Marilee Williams host this weekly showcase—one of the few on the south side.

The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience & Hootennany

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.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions

Mondays, 8:30 p.m.
Beat Kitchen 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Roscoe Village

In one evening they might touch on rip-snorting fire music, spacy electronics, or delicate, arrhythmic timbral explorations—half the fun is seeing them disappear down a stylistic rabbit hole, then come out the other end sounding like something from a different genre, decade, or planet. —Bill Meyer, 2012 773-281-4444

Kafein Espresso Bar

Open run: Mon 8:30 PM
Kafein 1621 Chicago Ave., Evanston Evanston

With hosts Chris and Kirill. 847-491-1621

The Mixer

Open run: Mon 10 PM
Playground Theater 3209 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lakeview

Improv vets teach a workshop starting at 10 PM, then the newbies perform alongside them at 10:30 PM. Free for first-time attendees. 773-871-3793

Best Night Ever

Open run: First and third Monday of the month, 8 PM
GMan Tavern 3740 N. Clark St., Chicago Wrigleyville

Stand-up showcase of local comedians presented by Alex Stone, Thomas Brady, Rebecca O'Neal, Sonia Denis, and Sam McHale. 773-549-2050

The Second City's Improv All-Stars

Open run: Mon 8 PM
Up Comedy Club 230 W. North Ave., Chicago Old Town

The Second City's top performers present their interactive improv every week, directed by Mick Napier. 312-337-3992

Sadsacks and Wisecracks

Open run: Mon 8 PM
High-Hat Club 1920 W. Irving Park, Chicago North Center

A weekly showcase featuring artists from various genres of Chicago comedy. 773-697-8660

Patricia Barber Quartet

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


Pat McCurdy

Mondays, 10 p.m.
Beat Kitchen 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Roscoe Village


open mike hosted by Darren Amaya

Mondays, 10:30 p.m.
Quenchers Saloon 2401 N. Western 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

Red Lobster Comedy

Open run: Third Mon of each month, 9:30 PM
L&L Tavern 3207 N. Clark St., Chicago Lakeview

Red Lobster Comedy aspires to more than providing stage time for unfiltered, odd stand-up comics. Creator Chris Condren, a Chicago staple known for songs that go nowhere, and his 34 producers serve hot dogs and have sent a cease-and-desist letter to Red Lobster for infringing on their "brand." Don't be surprised if the lawsuit actually goes through, a performing comic flops spectacularly, or the show moves to the Red Lobster in Midway Airport—the original venue of choice. 773-528-1303

The Female Funnies

Open run: Third Monday of the month, 8 PM
Zanies 1548 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

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Local stalwart Patti Vasquez hosts this monthly showcase of local female comics at a traditional club—a chance for the uninitiated to scope out the landscape of women in Chicago comedy. 312-337-4027