The third annual edition of this showcase of sketch comedy, presented by Lukaba Productions, features more than 70 local and out-of-town ensembles. Some well established, some new to the scene, they represent a remarkable range of styles and viewpoints. The festival runs January 8-18 at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, in the venue's west, south, and north theaters. Performances are Thursdays at 8 and 9:30 PM; Fridays at 8, 9, 10, and 11 PM; Saturdays at 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 PM; and Sundays at 4, 5:30, and 7 PM. Admission is $10 per show; a festival pass costs $60. For reservations, call 773-327-5252.
Following is the schedule for January 8; a complete schedule is available online at www.chicagoreader.com.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 8
Hans & Robyn and Giants in the Sky
"Comedy team Hans Holsen and Robyn Norris are both attractive young people, the former exhibiting a Wodehouse-ian aplomb and the latter an elfish allure. Most of their material is pretty clever too, and what isn't is redeemed by its quirky charm," said Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge of Hans & Robyn's show at ComedySportz last summer. Giants in the Sky present Darnit You're Special, Charlie Brown. West theater, 8 PM.
Maximum Party Zone and Mantasticks
"On the one hand, the Mantasticks undeniably know their way around a joke. On the other, they're so well schooled in these mechanics that every idea, whether desperately offbeat or tried-and-true, threatens to dissipate into a comedic equation. But rather than turning up the volume or jiggering the show's structure ... these guys dish out their shtick like the meat-and-potatoes fare it is," said Reader critic Brian Nemtusak when he reviewed the troupe's run at Victory Gardens Theater last fall. Local trio Maximum Party Zone's show features "superheroes, vampires, doctors, children's folk-singers, and an administrative assistant." South theater, 8 PM.
Dolphins of Damnation and Big Kids Comedy Hour
Big Kids Comedy Hour features Marz Timms as the dummy in an adult-oriented tale of a ventriloquist trying for a comeback. "The show is silly and unfocused ... but overall this is an audacious, bizarrely inventive, and amusing production," said Reader critic Jenn Goddu when the show played last year. Dolphins of Damnation is a local group also. North theater, 8 PM.
The Backrow and Real Good Turbo
The Backrow "examines what it means to get older when you clearly have no business doing so," according to a press release. Real Good Turbo presents Adolph Fishler, the Hillbilly Racist Fish. West theater, 9:30 PM.
Supper Club and Anton Chekhov's Bastard Child
Anton Chekhov's Bastard Child features writers and improvisers creating a show based on an audience suggestion and a line of the playwright's dialogue. Supper Club makes their debut at this year's SketchFest. South theater, 9:30 PM.
Patriautism and !Salsation!
The all-Latino comedy group !Salsation! "aims to be political and timely. However, their sometimes sharp insights are buried within sketches too keen on easy laughs," said Reader critic Jenn Goddu when she reviewed the troupe's revue at Teatro Luna last fall. Patriautism's stated goal is to "turn our nation's sacred cows into hamburger patties." North theater, 9:30 PM.