Brian Posen rented Theatre Building Chicago for the inaugural edition of this annual sketch comedy blowout back in January 2002—and for each one since. Now the inmates are running the asylum: Last May, a Posen-led group took over the three-theater TBC complex on Belmont, renaming it Stage 773.
The 10th SketchFest, touted as the nation's largest event of its kind, features 150 performances by 129 sketch troupes comprising more than 800 artists. Posen himself plays with two of those troupes: the Cupid Players, the Reader's 2008 pick for Best Sketch Group (Sat 1/8 and 1/15, 8 PM), and silent physical comedy trio Bri-Ko (Fri 1/7 and 1/14, 11 PM). On the first weekend only, pH Productions sends a contingent around the corner from its home digs on Sheffield (Sat 1/8, 7 PM), and the Best Church of God, another Reader pick—Best Sketch Show, 2010—offers one of its fundamentalist-skewering worship services (Sun 1/9, 1 PM).
During the second weekend, sentimentalists will want to catch MAXIMUM PARTY ZONE (Sat, 1/15, 10 PM) and Monsters from the Id (Sat 1/15, 6 PM), both of which played the first SketchFest. A double bill consisting of Williams & Martinez and the Puterbaugh Sisters (Thu 1/13, 8 PM) looks promising, as does a stand by Jablonski! (Sat 1/15, 11 PM). There are also reunion shows by BLAIRE, an all-female group priding itself on unfeminine content (Fri 1/14 and Sat 1/15, 8 PM), and DARK EYED STRANGERS, a theater/sketch fusion featuring live music (Fri 1/14, 10 PM).
The CHICAGO SKETCHFEST KIDS, TEENS and FAMILY DAY mini-fest (Sat 1/15, 1 and 2:30 PM) includes 12 groups doing comedy for and mostly by young people. The ADULTS (Sat 1/15, 2:30 PM), for instance, formed at a Second City youth class. Opens Thu 1/6. Through 1/16: Thu 8 and 9:30 PM, Fri 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 PM, Sat 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 PM, Sun 2:30, 4, 5:30, 7 PM, plus Sun 1/9, 1 PM only, Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252, stage773.com, $14, unlimited pass $150. —Tony Adler and John V. Santore