Best Comedy Show to Satisfy Both English Nerds and Culture Snobs

Improvised Shakespeare at iO Chicago

Critics' Picks

Good ol' Billy Shakes—just the mention of his name sends many spiraling back to high school English class. Since 2005, the Improvised Shakespeare Company has found a way to slash the bard's intimidation factor—and poke fun at it, too. Unlike the chest-puffed reenactments that plague a lot of loft stages, their interpretation is simple and painless. A (probably drunk) audience member throws out an original title for a play, and then a group of six or so weaves a side-splitting story around it. The name is typically asinine—I'm sure you're disappointed you missed "Punch a Dude About Nothing"—but these class clowns don't pull any punches, from thick Cockney accents to delightfully lascivious quips. Equipped with nothing but their wits and their breeches, the actors pack the hour-long show with laughs. For some reason, things just seem a lot funnier in iambic pentameter.