I.O. | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Improv is a spectator sport. Its excitement lies in seeing whether skilled players fumble or score as they toss comic ideas back and forth in intricate patterns. The unique energy generated by loopy, free-associative long-form improvisations is palpable in close quarters, with the performers just a few feet from the audience. That should be apparent Friday when celebrity alumni of ImprovOlympic (recently renamed I.O. in deference to the U.S. Olympic Committee's proprietary pressure) drop in to jam at the company's intimate Wrigleyville home as a warm-up for Saturday's sold-out ImprovOlympic's 25th Anniversary Reunion Show at the Chicago Theatre. Friday at 9, Andy Dick and Susan Messing team up in Messing With A. Dick, a set of two-person scenes based on audience suggestions. At 10:30 there's a special edition of The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Hootenanny in which Dick, Rachel Dratch, Horatio Sanz, Andy Richter, Neil Flynn, and the Upright Citizens Brigade create spontaneous scenes based on a single monologue by one of the cast. At midnight, Dan Bakkedahl (soon leaving town to join The Daily Show) and Miles Stroth team up for Zumpf! All these shows elevate process over product, demonstrating that unpredictability is the essence of the fun. Fri 8/26, I.O., 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199. $15 per show.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/John H. Abbott.


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