The sketch group Hijinks has never settled for just being funny. In fact, the five-person troupe has never done the same show twice, no matter how many laughs it might have gotten on a particular night. Having for the past year put on monthly experimental shows utilizing offbeat formats and styles in nontraditional venues, Hijinks this month moves to a permanent home at iO. As a housewarming in its new digs, the group is doing something else it's never done before—a 12-hour marathon production dubbed Hijinks Fest: We're All Gonna Die.
"It's an endurance test just to do it for 12 hours, but what's happening in the shows will [also] take it out of us," says Hijinks member Alex Hanpeter. She along with Mike Klasek, Clayton Margeson, Kyle Reinhard, and Jude Tedmori will stage each of the group's dozen hour-long sketches from the past year back to back to back to—well, you get it.
While some parts of the performances are less physically intensive, like a collection of solo routines, others will put the cast members' endurance to the test. One show involves Hanpeter and Tedmori boxing. Another is a nightmare game show. Yet another takes place on an actual party trolley that will stop at the theater to pick up the audience and cast before going on a tour of comedy landmarks in Chicago. Along with its usual rehearsals, Hijinks has lately been focusing on fitness to ensure its players can go the distance without hitting the proverbial wall.
"We're all working out together now," Tedmori says, "so we have the stamina to go the 12 hours." The audience need not have the same staying power; festival wristbands will be available so people can come and go throughout the day. Performance artists and musicians who are friends of Hijinks will provide additional entertainment in iO's adjacent event space.
Despite the extraordinary circumstances of their production, Hijinks members share the primary concern that afflicts all comedians. "I just hope people don't stop laughing," Tedmori says. "Laughing is so exhausting."