Improv/Sketch Events | Chicago Reader

Improv/Sketch Events

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Hitch-Cocktails Recommended The Short List (Theater)

7/23-12/24: Fri 10 PM

Buy Tickets$20


The long-running (off and on since 2012) Alfred Hitchcock-inspired improvised drinking show returns to Annoyance. The cast tries to solve a mystery without becoming totally sloshed in the process. The show also features live music "and a few parlor games." Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

System of a Clown

Previews Fri-Sat 7/16-7/24; opens Fri 7/30, through 9/25, Fri-Sat 8 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$10 previews, $20 regular run

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Annoyance founder Mick Napier directs and curates this live show, which brings together a changing lineup of comedians doing solo sketches, with a bit of improv along the way. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

Virtual ComedySportz Free Online

Fri-Sat 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM CST

Buy TicketsFree

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ComedySportz Theater Chicago brings its flagship show, featuring two teams of improvisers ( going head-to-head through a series of games with a referee, to the digital realm. The family-friendly performances ("rated E for everyone") stream live through Twitch.

Missed Call

7/23-9/3: Fri 8 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$10


This show starts with listening to a voicemail that the cast has never heard before. The cast then builds a series of improvised scenes from that call. Audience members who wish to submit a voicemail for possible use in a future show can do so at 662-729-1869. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

Wisecrackin' Free Online

Fri 8 PM CST; open run

Buy TicketsFree

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This weekly virtual comedy game show pits comedians head to head to write a punchline for a setup they have never seen before. It streams through Facebook and YouTube.

The Second City Free

See website for full information

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The Second City offers free improv and sketch content online during the COVID-19 shutdown, with Improv House Party, in which "co-quarantined pairs convene digitally to improvise their hearts out in this wild west of comedy streaming live from everyone's bunker." Check in with the Second City Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts, or the Second City website. New episodes are available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 7 PM CDT. The other free shows include The Really Awesome Improv Show, styled similarly to Whose Line Is It Anyway?", every Thursday at 1 PM CDT and The Last Show Left on Earth, a half-hour sketch and variety show coproduced by the Second City and Topic, which will be releasing new episodes weekly featuring comedy and music artists such as Jack McBrayer, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, and Fred Willard. The Second City also offers online classes for varying rates during the shutdown.

Out of Touch Free

Available streaming via website anytime

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Annoyance created this original sketch show, available free in a streaming format, via a team of nine performers and crew living in quarantine together for 10 days at the theater. The March 28 performance is now available anytime through the theater's website.

ComedySportz Free

Mondays-Saturdays

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ComedySportz offers an array of games-based improvisation shows during the COVID-19 shutdown. On Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 and 9:30 PM, Virtual ComedySportz features their classic format of two teams of improvisers, plus a ref. The audience can join with suggestions and vote for the winning team via Zoom. Every other Wednesday at 7 PM, beginning on April 8, the company performs Virtual Vino Veritas, pairing Susan Haarman and two storytellers, plus wine, to share some stories over Zoom. And for families with kids, ReCeSz runs noon-12:30 PM Mon-Fri, with ComedySportz training center instructors leading youngsters through games and a dance party to break up the daily routine. July 20-August 7, the company offers a virtual summer comedy camp for youth, focused on improv games, scene and character work, and stand-up comedy. The camp fee is $100. All other content is free, but donations accepted.

Cigarette Sandwich: The Power Hour

7/24-9/4: Sat 9:30 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$10


Cigarette Sandwich offers a weekly sketch show at Annoyance, featuring what they call "raw, improv-fueled style with absurd content, brewed from seven years of sweat and hustle in the bars, garages, and basements of the Chicago comedy scene." Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

Fire & Beer: The Annoyance House Ensemble

7/24-9/4: Sat 8 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$12


Annoyance House Ensemble presents a completely improvised weekly show that "explores the dark sides of life, relationships and human beings." Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

Kara-OK: The Search for the Most OK Karaoke Singer Free Online

Opens Mon 2/15, 7 PM CST; open run

Buy TicketsFree

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ComedySportz presents a live online spoof of reality TV singing competitions, featuring "singers from across the CSz Universe" as they compete "for middling bragging rights as the most OK karaoke singer." Elisa Carlson, Dan Krackhardt, and Heather School judge,and Justin Swinson hosts.

The Electables Free

Available anytime through most podcast platforms

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Democracy Burlesque offers a podcast version of their long-running politics sketch show, with each episode featuring a different presidential election in history. New episodes will drop every other Tuesday. The program also enlists the aid of the Americanists, "a group of smart and engaging historians and experts in various things Presidential."

Happy To Be Here

Open run: Thu-Sat 7 and 10 PM, Sun 4 and 7 PM

Buy Tickets$55-$109


The Second City returns to live performance on its mainstage with this revue, comprised of improvised scenes and archival sketches. Seating is limited in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions, but drinks with "mask-friendly drinking straws" are available. The company is also returning to some in-person classes at the Second City Training Center in Piper's Alley.

Minor League Free All Ages Online

Open run: Wed 7:30 PM CST

Buy TicketsFree

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ComedySportz Theater Chicago presents a weekly showcase of emerging improvisational talent, competing with short-form games familiar to fans of Whose Line Is It Anyway. The show streams live through Twitch, and is rated "E for everyone."

Super Human

7/28-9/22: Wed 9:30 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$10


The all-female improv team of Super Human describe themselves as "a splash zone of women," offering a show with "diverse personalities and playing styles, with an unmistakable focus on creating inclusive learning and performance spaces." Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

Trigger Happy

7/28-9/1: Wed 8 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$12


This improv show creates a series of unrelated scenes from a single audience suggestion. Along the way, the cast shares an invisible language that will "trigger" certain events. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

Out of the House Party

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 10:30 PM, Sun 5 PM,
Second City E.T.C. Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells St., Chicago Old Town

Buy Tickets$41-$79


Second City e.t.c. returns to live indoor performances with this revue, a blend of archival sketches from the company vaults and improvised scenes. "Mask-friendly" drinking straws are available, and other COVID protocols are in place. 312-337-3992

One Shots Free Online

Open run: Thu 7 PM CST

Buy TicketsFree

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ComedySportz Theater Chicago presents this weekly live show via Twitch, created by ensemble members Susan Haarman and Todd Page. The performers delve into a new adventure storytelling role-play game every week, with situations and scenarios changing in the show according to the roll of the dice. The company rates the show "PG13."

Among USz Free 17+ Online

Open run: Thu 7 PM CST

Buy TicketsFree

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ComedySportz Theater Chicago presents a live weekly show via Twitch, inspired by the online multiplayer game "Among Us." Ten players each week have to "run around their spaceship and solve menial tasks" while trying to avoid the unknown killers who lurk around the corner.

Fishbowl

7/22-9/2: Thu 9:30 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$8


Sight Unseen hosts a two-act improv show for Annoyance. In the first act, Annoyance students put their IDs into a fishbowl for the chance to be selected to perform in an improv jam with veteran Annoyance teachers and performers. Then Sight Unseen (a house team at the theater) takes the stage for the second act, offering a set that "prides itself on being equal parts heartwarming and offensive." Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

The Early Bird Special

8/5-8/26: Thu 8 PM
Annoyance Theatre 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy Tickets$15


Sketch troupe Late Night Shenanigans returns to Annoyance with an all-new show. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theater. 773-697-9693

The Power Hour Free

Sat 9:30 PM CST

Buy TicketsFree, but donations accepted


The Annoyance and sketch comedy group Cigarette Sandwich present "a watch-along party of snack sized videos submitted by local comedians." Viewers can play along via chat, and it's streamed through Twitch.