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In Chicago, comics do it by the seat of their pants

The 16th annual Chicago Improv Festival kicks off on April Fools' Day.



Hundreds of bozos, buffoons, mummers, and mimes hit town on April Fools' Day for the 16th Chicago Improv Festival. A new format this year organizes the funny into nine categories: long-form, short-form, genre, experimental, alternative, musical, emerging artists, puppetry, and improv onscreen. A full schedule's available online; some daily highlights follow.

At an opening-night performance on Monday, TIM: A Night of Timprovisation features a hodgepodge of . . . Tims: The Hot Karl's Tim Chidester, Second City vet Tim Stoltenberg, plus two other comic Tims and one bonus Timmy, clowning together at the Annoyance (8 PM, 4830 N. Broadway, $10). Stay put afterward for the party (10 PM, no cover).

Tuesday's special event is the LGBT Showcase, with players including members from the improv team Thora Birch and the entire crew of Blood Oath (8 PM, the Playground, 3209 N. Halsted, $10). Raising Hope's Lucas Neff and Community's Craig Cackowski face off as long-form headliner the Better Half, performing with Virgin Daiquiri (8 PM, Second City, 1616 N. Wells, $20).

In a screening of The Del Close Farewell Salute To Chicago, Wednesday at Strawdog Theatre, late comedy savant Del Close presents a 1978 performance of his Second City students (7:30 PM, 3829 N. Broadway, $5). Improv institution Cook County Social Club shares a bill with 30 Rock's Scott Adsit, reuniting with the Reckoning's Jet Eveleth as Adsit and Eveleth (8 PM, Second City, $20).

For a Thursday dose of Adsit, see Messing With a Friend, part of Susan Messing's weekly screwball collusion-with-a-guest series (10:30 PM, Annoyance, $15). Meanwhile, superintelligent Mission IMPROVable open for Sheldon, a two-man show by John Barinholtz and Rob Belushi (son of Jim, nephew of John) at the Comedy Bar (10 PM, 157 W. Ontario, $15).

Friday, improv and real-life couple Colleen Doyle and Jason Shotts top the lineup at Second City with Dummy, a comedy of manners (7 PM, $15).

The Improvised Philip K. Dick hails from New York and specializes in dystopic, paranoiac sci-fi; Mannerhouse Manor, by ComedySportz LA, provides butlers, footmen, and champagne to attendees in full-blown Downtown Abbey style. They play together Saturday at Gorilla Tango (8:30 PM, 1919 N. Milwaukee, $15).

On Sunday evening, the Improvised Shakespeare Company invent a new Shakespeare play, and 30 Rock staffers Scott Adsit, John Lutz, and Kay Cannon perform together (8 PM, UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North, $25). The fest concludes with a final ha-ha-hurrah at Lincoln Tap Room (10 PM, 3010 N. Lincoln, no cover).

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