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Fall Arts Guide 2008, Listings, Comedy

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September

thursday 9/11

Mike Birbiglia a8 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $25.

Jamie Kilstein aThrough 9/13, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15-$20.

sunday 9/14

Chicago SketchFest Kick-Off Party and Fund-Raiser The comedy festival's annual fund-raiser includes food and drinks, a live auction, performances by local sketch groups, and a screening of a 30-minute documentary about last year's fest. a7 PM, Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-539-4596 or chicagosketchfest.com, $25, $20 in advance.

tuesday 9/16

Rob Little aThrough 9/21, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $21.

wednesday 9/17

Jamie Kaler aThrough 9/18, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $25.

thursday 9/18

Pablo Francisco aThrough 9/21, The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001, $24, 21+

friday 9/19

Rob Cantrell aThrough 9/20, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15.

monday 9/22

Impress These Apes aThrough 11/10, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492, $15.

tuesday 9/23

Larry Reeb aThrough 9/28, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $22.

thursday 9/25

Christian Finnegan aThrough 9/27, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15.

John Heffron aThrough 9/28, The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-200, $19-$22, 21+

tuesday 9/30

Zanies' 30-Year Anniversary Show The show will feature "30 comics in 30 minutes," followed by a full set by ventriloquist Taylor Mason. a8 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $25. 21+

October

wednesday 10/1

The Fall Midwest Stand-Up Comedy Show A showcase of locals and comics working the Heartland circuit. a 8 PM, The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001, $15, 21+, 2 dr. min.

Alex Ortiz aThrough 10/5, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $22.

thursday 10/2

Jim Breuer aThrough 10/5, The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001, $27, 21+

saturday 10/4

East vs. West Comedy Battle Showcase hosted by Damon Williams. a 9 PM, Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan, 312-282-6890 or funnyfirstsaturdays.com, $20 (includes admission to afterparty), 21+.

Straight Trip'n' With Damon & Friends a9 PM, Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan, 312-282-6890 or funnyfirstsaturdays.com, $20 (includes admission to afterparty), 21+

tuesday 10/7

John Mulaney aThrough 10/12, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $22.

thursday 10/9

Gabriel Iglesias aThrough 10/19, The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001, $29.

friday 10/10

The Sklar Brothers aThrough 10/11, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com $20.

tuesday 10/14

Butch Bradley aThrough 10/19, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com $22.

Kathy Griffin More bawdy gossip, self-deprecation, and self-promotion from the Oak Park native. a Through 10/16, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, 312-902-1500, $55-$75 (the 10/15 and 10/16 shows are sold out).

The Original Improv Gladiators: Season 4 A team competition scored by judges from the theater and improv communities. aThrough 11/11, Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln, 312-409-6435 or cornservatory.org, $10.

saturday 10/18

This Country's F$cked Sketch groups Schadenfreude and GayCo host a showcase of "stand-up, sketch comedy, music, and magic" on the subject of the presidential elections and the state of the country. aThrough 10/25, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492, $20.

tuesday 10/21

John Caparulo aThrough 10/26, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $23.

thursday 10/23

Tammy Pescatelli aThrough 10/26, The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001 $17-$19. 21+, 2 dr. min.

friday 10/24

Carlos Mencia The Honduran star of Mind of Mencia in a stand-up gig. a7 PM, Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont, 312-559-1212, $43.50.

monday 10/27

Sandra Bernhard In her show A Sandra Bernhard Halloween the actress-comedienne performs stand-up and music with her band the Rebellious Jezebels. a 7 and 9:30 PM, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, downstairs theater, 1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650, $60.

Zaniest Person in Chicago Showcase Featuring open-call auditioners competing in the ongoing contest. a8 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $5. 21+, 2 dr. min.

tuesday 10/28

Joe Bronzi aThrough 11/1, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $22 (no show 10/30 or 11/1).

November

saturday 11/1

Lily Tomlin a8 PM, Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N.

River, Rosemont, 312-559-1212, $37.50-$75.

thursday 11/13

TJ Miller aThrough 11/15, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15.

friday 11/21

Jim Jeffries aThrough 11/22, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $20.

saturday 11/22

Bob Newhart The former Chicago accountant performs many of his classic bits. a8 PM, Genessee Theatre, 203 N. Genessee, Waukegan, 847-244-1253 or 312-559-1212, $37.50-$65.

friday 11/28

Angelah Johnson aThrough 11/29, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15.

September

thursday 9/11

Mike Birbiglia a8 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $25.

Jamie Kilstein aThrough 9/13: Thu 10:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 10:30 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15-$20.

sunday 9/14

Chicago SketchFest Kick-Off Party and Fund-Raiser The comedy festival's annual fund-raiser includes food and drinks, a live auction, performances by local sketch groups, and a screening of a 30-minute documentary about last year's fest. a7 PM, Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-539-4596 or chicagosketchfest.com, $25, $20 in advance.

tuesday 9/16

Rob Little aThrough 9/21: Tue 8:30 PM, Wed-Thu 9:30 PM, Fri 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Sat 7, 9, and 11:15 PM, Sun 8:30 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $21.

wednesday 9/17

Jamie Kaler a7:30 PM, also 9/18, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $25.

thursday 9/18

Pablo Francisco Remember that actor in the Police Academy movies who did all the sound effects? That wasn't Pablo Francisco (it was Michael Winslow, who was recently in a GEICO commercial), but Francisco's voice talent is that good. Parodying telenovelas, he not only delivers fantastic accents and perfect melodramatic acting but adds a cheesy sound track and the character's heartbeat. His impressions are among the best, and he switches from one to another with such speed and facility it can sound like several people are onstage. (RH) aThrough 9/21: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 and 10:15 PM, Sat 7 and 9:15 PM, Sun 7 PM, the Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001, $24, 21+

friday 9/19

Rob Cantrell a8 and 10:30 PM, also 9/20, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15.

monday 9/22

Impress These Apes In Blewt! Productions' talent show, now in a third season, the fate of the human race depends on eight contestants impressing three apes from the future whose intelligence has increased to the level of, well, amateur comedians. The backstory is silly, but there are real stakes: after eight weeks the winning contestant gets $500 (and the title of "least pitiful human"). A volatile mix of the staged and the sincere, this lively show delivers the best kind of inconsistency: can't-look-away failure and spontaneous charm. (RH) a8 PM, through 11/10, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492, $15.

tuesday 9/23

Larry Reeb aThrough 9/28: Tue-Thu 8:30 PM, Fri 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Sat 7, 9, and 11:15 PM, Sun 8:30 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $22.

thursday 9/25

Christian Finnegan aThrough 9/27: Thu 8 and 10:30 PM, Fri 10:30 PM, Sat 8 and 10:30 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15.

John Heffron aThrough 9/28: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 and 10:15 PM, Sat 7 and 9:15 PM, Sun 7 PM, the Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-200, $19-$22, 21+

tuesday 9/30

Zanies' 30-Year Anniversary Show The show will feature "30 comics in 30 minutes," followed by a full set by ventriloquist Taylor Mason. a8 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $25. 21+

October

wednesday 10/1

The Fall Midwest Stand-Up Comedy Show A showcase of locals and comics working the Heartland circuit. a 8 PM, the Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001, $15, 21+, 2 dr. min.

Alex Ortiz aThrough 10/5: Wed-Thu 8:30 PM, Fri 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Sat 7, 9, and 11:15 PM, Sun 8:30 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $22.

thursday 10/2

Jim Breuer aThrough 10/5: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 and 10:15 PM, Sat 7 and 9:15 PM, Sun 7 PM, the Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001, $27, 21+

saturday 10/4

East vs. West Comedy Battle Showcase hosted by Damon Williams. a 9 PM, Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan, 312-282-6890 or funnyfirstsaturdays.com, $20 (includes admission to afterparty), 21+.

Straight Trip'n' With Damon & Friends a9 PM, Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan, 312-282-6890 or funnyfirstsaturdays.com, $20 (includes admission to afterparty), 21+

tuesday 10/7

John Mulaney aThrough 10/12: Tue-Thu 8:30 PM, Fri 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Sat 7, 9, and 11:15 PM, Sun 8:30 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $22.

thursday 10/9

Gabriel Iglesias aThrough 10/19, The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001 $29.

friday 10/10

The Sklar Brothers aAlso-10/11, 8 and 10:30 PM, , Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com $20.

tuesday 10/14

Butch Bradley aThrough 10/19: Tue-Thu 8:30 PM, Fri 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Sat 7, 9, and 11:15 PM, Sun 8:30 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com $22.

Kathy Griffin More bawdy gossip, self-deprecation, and self-promotion from the Oak Park native. a Through 10/16, 8 PM, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, 312-902-1500, $55-$75 (the 10/15 and 10/16 shows are sold out).

The Original Improv Gladiators: Season 4 A team competition scored by judges from the theater and improv communities. a8 PM, through 11/11, Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln, 312-409-6435 or cornservatory.org, $10.

saturday 10/18

This Country's F$cked Sketch groups Schadenfreude and GayCo host a showcase of "stand-up, sketch comedy, music, and magic" on the subject of the presidential elections and the state of the country. aThrough 10/25, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492, $20.

tuesday 10/21

John Caparulo aThrough 10/26: Tue-Thu 8:30 PM, Fri 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Sat 7, 9, and 11:15 PM, Sun 8:30 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $23.

thursday 10/23

Tammy Pescatelli aThrough 10/26: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 and 10:30 PM, Sat 7 and 9:15 PM, Sun 7 PM, The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Golf Rd. at Rte. 53, Schaumburg, 847-240-2001 $17-$19. 21+, 2 dr. min.

friday 10/24

Carlos Mencia The Honduran star of Mind of Mencia in a stand-up gig. a 7 PM, Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont, 312-559-1212, $43.50.

monday 10/27

Sandra Bernhard In her show A Sandra Bernhard Halloween the actress-comedienne performs stand-up and music with her band the Rebellious Jezebels. a 7 and 9:30 PM, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, downstairs theater, 1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650, $60.

Zaniest Person in Chicago Showcase Featuring open-call auditioners competing in the ongoing contest. a8 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $5. 21+, 2 dr. min.

tuesday 10/28

Joe Bronzi aThrough 11/1: Tue-Thu 8:30 PM, Fri 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Sat 7, 9, and 11:15 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027 or chicago.zanies.com, $22 (no show 10/30 or 11/1).

November

saturday 11/1

Lily Tomlin a8 PM, Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N.

River, Rosemont, 312-559-1212, $37.50-$75.

thursday 11/13

TJ Miller aThrough 11/15: Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 10:30 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15

friday 11/21

Jim Jeffries a8 and 10:30 PM, also 11/22, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $20.

saturday 11/22

Bob Newhart The former Chicago accountant performs many of his classic bits, like the Driving Instructor and the Submarine Commander. a8 PM, Genessee Theatre, 203 N. Genessee, Waukegan, 847-244-1253 or 312-559-1212, $37.50-$65.

friday 11/28

Angelah Johnson a8 and 10:30 PM, also 11/29, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492 or lakeshoretheater.com, $15.

Ongoing

The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Hootenanny iO's longest-running show, a monologist tells personal stories that inspire the improv. aOpen run: Mon 8:30 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $12.

Baby Wants Candy Baby Wants Candy: The Rock Musical shows that Baby Wants Candy has become the very model of a smart, physical, quick-thinking, and just plain silly long-form improv team. (JHe) aOpen run: Fri 10:30 PM, main stage, Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln, 773-935-6100, $5-$15.

Bad Review Each week this Chemically Imbalanced Comedy team selects a disparaging theater review from the latest Reader and performs an hour-long improvisation of "the show we feel the critic would have rather seen." The cast fixated on some easy pop references, but the sarcasm was thick and zany. Director Angela McMahon crafts a truly professional improv production. (RH) aOpen run: Sun 8 PM, Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1420 W. Irving Park, 800-838-3006, $10, BYOB.

Bad Touch: Unsavory Improv and Davey Dickrocket aOpen run: Tue 9:30 PM, Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 773-561-4665 or annoyanceproductions, $5.

The Beatbox Combination of long-form improv and hip-hop, featuring {battle raps, scratched scenes, samples,} and a {rap jam} ending. aOpen run: Fri midnight, ComedySportz Theatre, 929 W. Belmont, 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212, comedysportzchicago.com, $10.

The Belmont Burlesque Revue A variety show featuring the Belmont Bombshells, Mark Henderson as host Jack Midnight, Chris Biddle as Second Cousin Joe, magician Tomas Medina as the Amazing Tomas, and guests. aOpen run: fourth Sat of month, 12:15 AM, Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com, $10.

The Best Church of God Director Michael Descoteaux and his cast have fashioned a campy, comprehensive fun-house-mirror image of fundamentalism. The cornerstone of their parallel universe is the Sunday service, complete with complimentary Bibles "in the original English." The show isn't flawless, but their lampooning of the Lord still tickles even as it tugs at the mind. (RH) a Open run: Sun 10:30 AM, Donny's Skybox Studio, 1608 N. Wells, 4th fl., 312-337-3992, free (the show/service includes a collection plate).

The Best of the Second City Second City touring companies GreenCo, BlueCo, and RedCo program their own shows, which can change and which alternate with the others. Most material is from the mid-90s on, but each group adds original sketches and improv—usually very funny. In general the timing is less crisp and the players are less charismatic than in Second City and E.T.C., but the execution is still consistently good. (RH) aOpen run: Mon 8 PM, Sat 4 PM, Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 312-337-3992, $14-$19.

The Big Yellow Bus In The Big Yellow Bus a core cast performs a different type of long-form improv each week, with guests. The actors meet once just before going on, which gives a frenetic unpredictability to their bits and leads to prankish pushing and pulling, but it also produces occasional fumbling to discover others' sensibilities. (RH) aOpen run: Thu 8 PM, Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com, $10.

Blewtenanny! A Blewt! Productions variety showcase. aOpen run: second Sat of month, midnight. Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com, F

Booze Your Own Adventure A sketch show in which "the audience decides the fate of two idiots on a night out on the town in Chicago." aOpen run: Fri-Sat 11 PM, Pub Theater Company, Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 N. Green, 312-733-6000.

The Bryan Room Presents Showcase of comedy acts hosted by improv group the Bryan Room. a Open run: first and third Wed of month, 8 PM. Goodbar, 2512 N. Halsted, 773-296-9700, F

Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play Based on the bibulous life in the Windy City, the show is orchestrated mass tippling first and sketch comedy second, steered "dueling pianos" style by an emcee and a handful of cheerleaders. Not that the skits aren't clever or that the performers don't have charisma and comic chops to spare. They're just the B-girls in this scenario. (BN) aOpen run: Fri-Sat 9:30 PM, Pub Theater Company, Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 N. Green, 312-733-6000.

Campaign Supernova! Relative to recent Second City shows, this latest sketch revue's obligatory, unsurprising satire of the presidential race is disappointing. Fortunately more than half the bits in Campaign Supernova! are unrelated to politics, and in those the cast takes some much needed and rewarding risks. At a party a woman with MS gets hilariously bitched out, and in a fresh patient/doctor scene characters speak only through sampled rap lyrics. Laura Grey is dazzling, especially as a Charlie Chaplin-inspired mime. (RH) a Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, Sun 7 PM, Second City E.T.C., 1608 N. Wells, 312-337-3992, $19-$25.

Cheap Beer Improv Features recent grads and current students of the theater's improv program. aOpen run: Wed 8 PM, Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 773-561-4665 or annoyanceproductions, $2.

The Chicago Comedy Series A stand-up showcase presented by fanthreads.com; Andrew Rollins Dewitt hosts. aThrough 11/15: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln, 773-935-6100 or apollochicago.com, $15, $12 in advance, studio. •

The Chicago Improv Rebellion A double bill of jazz and improv from the Christy Bennett Sextet and Hodge Podge. Through 8/30: Sat midnight, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $5.

Chicago Underground Comedy Showcase. a Open run: Tue 9:30 PM, $5, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, 21+

Chicagoland This witty long-form improv show features an ensemble of some of the improv scene's best talents, including the incomparable TJ Jagodowski, creating a tableau onstage, then asking the audience after a blackout, "Where in Chicago did that take place?" On a double bill with Fish Nuts. (RH) aOpen run: Tue 8 PM, Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 773-561-4665, $8.

Children of a Lesser God The four character-comediennes of Children of a Lesser God, including the magnificent Susan Messing (see listing for Messing With a Friend), perform improv as "ladies who have done it all" and who met in London in the 50s. (RH) aOpen run: Sun 10:30, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $5.

Comedians You Should Know Show Showcase of seven comics. a Open run: Wed 9 PM, $8, Fizz Bar & Grill, 3220 N. Lincoln, 773-348-6000, 21+.

Comedy House Showcase of comics from the stand-up collective and others. a Open run: second and fourth Thu of month, 10 PM, Timothy O'Toole's, 622 N. Fairbanks, 312-642-0700, 21+. F

Comedy Showcase aOpen run: Sat 10:30 PM, Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1420 W. Irving Park, 800-838-3006 or cicomedy.com.

ComedySportz LCD screens and sophisticated lighting and sound systems amplify the sports-style improv of the theater's eponymous production, ComedySportz. The show's structured as a competition, with a vigilant referee, between two teams performing multiple games that require audience participation. The formula is practically foolproof: players may flash their quick wits in winning responses, but they're even funnier when they fail. (RH). aOpen run: Thu 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10 PM, Sat 6, 8, and 10 PM, ComedySportz Theatre, 929 W. Belmont, 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212, comedysportzchicago.com, $19.

Cook County Social Club These four performers are as brazenly committed to improv's "affirm everything" mantra as any I've seen. Their dark, flamboyant comic sensibilities clearly aligned, they orchestrate black-comedy vignettes tethered to richly odd characters. But what most impressed me was how fluidly and creatively they transitioned between scenes, usually dangerous improv moments. The Frank Hayes 4 opens. (RH) aOpen run: Tue 8 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $12.

The Cool Table The group performs a unique sketch show each week. aOpen run: Tue 9 PM, Fizz Bar, 3220 N. Lincoln, 312-348-6000, $5.

Cupid Players Cupid Has a Heart On: A Musical Guide to Relationships takes a standard of improv revues—the satirical song—and makes it a raison d'etre. The original ditties are mostly keyed to the sensibility of the young, single, heterosexual urban male on the make. Thankfully, this doesn't result in an unwatchable testosterone fest—testament to the show's wit, firmly based in character and truthful situations. (TA) aOpen run: Sat 10:30 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $18.

Deep Schwa One of iO's longest-running ensembles; a rotating roster of two improv ensembles opens. aOpen run: Sun 8 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $12.

The Edge Comedy Club Showcase hosted by Dave Odd. aOpen run: Fri-Sat 10:30 PM, 2 item min, Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 N. Green, 312-733-6000 or theedgecomedyclub.com.

Entertaining Julia Showcase of stand-up, improv/sketch, and music acts; Jena Friedman hosts. a Open run: Sun 8 PM. Town Hall Pub, 3340 N. Halsted, 773-472-4405. F

Fat Tuesday Comedy Stew Showcase hosted by Steve Himmelman. a Open run: first and third Tue of month, 9 PM, Blue Bayou upstairs, 3734 N. Southport, 773-871-3300 $6.

Felt This adult-oriented improvised puppet show by the Atticus Finch ensemble suggests bitter, rejected prototypes of Elmo, Chewbacca, McGruff the Crime Dog, and Crank Yankers/Muppets characters ganging up in a dark alley off Sesame Street. The performers display sophisticated physical control as they wield the puppets from behind the curtains of a bi-level ministage. Felt is improv cut from new cloth. (RH) a Open run: Wed 8 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $5.

The Final Countdown Variety Show Presented by the Accountants of Homeland Security, the show features stand-ups, improv/sketch groups, musicians, magicians, and other acts. Open run: Sat 11 PM, Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln, 312-409-6435 or cornservatory.org, $8.

Fourth Fridays Comedy Night A stand-up showcase; Seth Thomas hosts. Open run: fourth Fri of month, 9:30 PM, Town Hall Pub, 3340 N. Halsted, 773-472-4405, $5.

Grafitti A showcase of established and emerging comics and sketch groups from the Chicago area and around the country; Justin Jackson hosts. aOpen run: Fri 10 PM, Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com, $10.

The Grasshopper Show An improv set by students and instructors from iO's training center. aOpen run: Sun 10 PM. iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199. F

High Noon at Eight An improv show of multiple groups anchored by the four-man team Koleno. aOpen run: Sun 8 PM. Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com. F

Hogwash: An Improvised Tall Tale An interactive show for kids 4-12. aOpen run: Sat 10:30 AM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $5.

The Hot Karl The performers revel in shamelessness in this long-form improv set. Ironically, once they are free to say and do anything, they become less obsessed with sex and more interested in creating strong scenes and characters. (JHe) aOpen run: Sat midnight, ComedySportz Theater, 929 W. Belmont, 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212, $10.

The Improv Jam Hosted by Bretty Lyons and Nathan Jansen, audience members are invited to perform improv with some of iO's "best veterans." aOpen run: Fri midnight. iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199. F

Improv Match Game Improvisers match wits with contestants drawn from the audience; Rich Prouty hosts. aOpen run: Thu 10 PM, ComedySportz Theatre, 929 W. Belmont, 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212, comedysportzchicago.com, $5.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company Seven men in swashbuckler shirts improvise a two-act Shakespearean play based on a title suggested by the audience. Director-performer Blaine Swen has assembled a vigorous ensemble, who relish their iambic dialogue, perfectly timed asides, occasional rhyming couplets, and parodic phrases and well-placed anachronisms. (RH) aOpen run: Fri 8 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $14.

The iO Musical Featuring the Deltones An improvised musical performed by members of several iO teams. Open run: Sat 8 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $14.

Klusterphuk Described as "walls to the balls improv that feels good on your face, sandwich, and some tile floors." aOpen run: Sat midnight, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $5.

Messing With a Friend Susan Messing's weekly show, where she pairs off with a guest "friend" for an hour of purely improvised comedy, is one of the funniest entertainments in town. Messing's acting is focused and nuanced, and she's got a sharp shit-detector, which allows her to cut or extend scenes like a good director. Each friend prods her in unpredictable ways, but Messing stays on her toes, and her high success rate is a testament to her congeniality, experience, and broad intelligence. (RH) a Open run: Thu 10:30 PM, Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 773-561-4665, $5.

New Faces Showcase aOpen run: Thu 8:30 PM. Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 N. Green, 312-733-6000 or theedgecomedyclub.com, $10-$12.

No Country for Old White Men Second City's new main-stage revue, No Country for Old White Men, boasts plenty of verbal wit, clever running jokes, and hilarious physical comedy. But underneath the fun is a serious concern: the anxiety generated by extraordinary political, technological, economic, and cultural change. A key theme of several sketches is the dehumanization that accompanies instant communication. Under Jim Carlson's fast-paced direction, however, the ensemble's communication with one another and the audience is lively and personal. (AW) aOpen run: Tue-Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, Sun 7 PM, Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 312-337-3992 or secondcity.com, $19-$25.

O.I.N.K.! Also knowns as Othy's Improv Night Kabaret, O.I.N.K.! includes stand-ups, improv/sketch groups, and musicians, hosted by Othy Schwering and Kannan Arumagum and featuring the house improv troupe Las Madres del Futbol. aOpen run: Wed 10 PM, Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com, $5-$7.

Old Town Clowns Showcase of stand-ups and a sketch group; Patrick Flanigan and Leah Eva host. aOpen run: Tue 9 PM. Angelo's Taverna, 1612 N. Sedgwick, 312-397-1900. F

Open Court Audience members can sign up for a one-night-only improv team, or to watch the fun. Open run: Thu 10:30 PM, Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com, $8.

Overstock A rotating lineup of improv teams. aOpen run: Mon 9:30 PM, $3, The Spot, 4437 N. Broadway, 773-728-8933 21+.

pHamily the Musical pH Productions amps up its long-running improv show, pHamily, by adding melodramatic musical asides and operatic flair. The ensemble embraces a challenging form in which offstage cast members interrupt scenes for new audience suggestions, which can result in funny bits within bits. The players don't always edit themselves well, but they really connect with the crowd. (RH) a Open run: Fri 11 PM, Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield, 773-732-5450, $5-$10, BYOB.

pHrenzy This competitive improv show whittles down contestants in reality-TV style. In early rounds elimination is governed by the host, whose arbitrary rules are concealed from the cast but not the audience. After that things get more democratic—the players fall prey to audience whim. Throw in random "refereeing" and you get the most athletic idiocy you'll find on a late-night stage in Chicago. (BN) a Open run: late Fri 12:30 AM, Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield, 773-732-5450, $5-$10, BYOB.

pHrenzy pHucked Described as a "decidedly R-rated (or worse)" version of pHrenzy. aOpen run: Sat 12:30 AM, pH Productions Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield, 773-732-5450 or whatisph.com.

Pimprov aOpen run: Fri 10:30 PM, Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1420 W. Irving Park, 800-838-3006 or cicomedy.com.

Quit Your Job Quit Your Job flatly channels office angst into improv. At the show I saw, the audience's anecdotes about terrible bosses and annoying coworkers were usually funnier than the bits they inspired. Fixated on obvious punch lines, the low-energy cast frequently fails to develop character flaws and deliver plot twists. But the quick-witted Jeff Reidy proves the show has a potential it's not reaching. (RH) aOpen run: Thu 8 PM, Pub Theater Company, Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 N. Green, 312-733-6000.

Raucous Caucus: The Lesser of Two Evils An improvised presidential debate in which the audience suggests the issues and votes on the winner aThrough 11/2: Sun 8:30 PM, Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 773-561-4665 or annoyanceproductions.com, $10.

The Reckoning The ten performers of the Reckoning have now been together longer than any other group at iO (six years). Individually their talent is obvious, and together they're remarkably consistent at giving audiences something to laugh at and students something to study. On Thursdays they do long-form improv, and on Tuesdays they experiment; past shows have included stage versions of films and stand-up sets. (RH) aOpen run: Tue 10:30 PM, Thu 8 PM (with two openers), iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $5-$12.

The Sandbox An improv showcase. aOpen run: Mon 8 PM, Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com, $5.

The Sickest F**king Stories I Ever Heard At each The Sickest F**king Stories I Ever Heard show five performers "play poker, drink beer," and tell "true" stories. aOpen run: first Sat of month, midnight, Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-871-3793 or the-playground.com, $10.

Sip and Giggle in Diane's Back Room Variety showcase hosted by Diane Corder. a Open run: Tue 9 PM, Red Pepper's Masquerade Lounge, 428 E. 87th, 773-873-5700, 21+, 2 dr. min. F

SKETCHseries A showcase of sketch revues, with each revue given a limited run. aOpen run: Wed 8 PM. Through 9/24: 100 . . . Years of Losing, about "our national pastime, the lovable losers on the north side, and all the little people that made this whole century-long losing streak possible." $5-$10, BYOB.

Stand-Up Squeeze Comedy Showcase aOpen run: Sat 8:30 PM, Pressure Billiards and Comedy Cafe, 6318 N. Clark, 773-743-7665, $5-$10.

3033 A comedy supergroup consisting mainly of former members of People of Earth, 3033 creates some of the liveliest, most consistently solid improv around. Unlike most troupes at iO, 3033 doesn't stick with the Harold improv format. Instead, they play it loose, letting an audience suggestion and Jason Chin's playful music and light effects steer them. At a one show the topic of gangs inspired a hilarious 70s-era game show. (RH) a Open run: Sun 10:30 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $5.

Too Soon? A showcase of comics doing their "most topical and offensive material." a Open run: Tue 9 PM, Silvie's, 1902 W. Irving Park, 773-871-6239, $5, 21+.

Wheel of pHortune In Wheel of pHortune an audience member spins a wheel showing improv forms; where it stops is what the cast must perform. Open run: Sat 11 PM, pH Productions Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield, 773-732-5450 or whatisph.com.

Whirled News Tonight Presents Newspeak This satire of current events, based on audience contributions of news stories, features players who exhibit a genuine rapport: articulate dialogue unfolds logically, swiftly, and concisely. (MSB) a Open run: Sat 8 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $14.j

Your Sunday Best Showcase, followed by an open mike; Prescott Tolk hosts. a Open run: Sun 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, 21+.F

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