Chicago SketchFest | Festival | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Festival

Chicago SketchFest

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

The fourth annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, presented by Lukaba Productions, features more than 80 local and out-of-town ensembles, including folks from Toronto, Vancouver, New York, LA, Seattle, Cleveland, Portland, Dallas, Denver, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Some well established, some new to the scene, they represent a remarkable range of styles and viewpoints. SketchFest runs 1/6-1/16 at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, in the venue's west, south, and north theaters. (In addition to the schedule below, comic puppeteer Harvey Finklestein entertains in the lobby before shows.) Admission is $12 per show except where otherwise noted; $30 provides admission to all performances any single Friday or Saturday evening; and a festival pass costs $75. For reservations, call 773-327-5252; tickets are also available through Ticketmaster at Hot Tix booths (www.hottix.org for information) or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For updated fest info, visit www.chicagosketchfest.com. Following is the schedule through 1/13; a complete schedule is available online at www.chicagoreader.com.

THURSDAY 6

Hans and Robyn and CarniKid Productions

Hans Holsen and Robyn Norris's show Murder on the Comedy Express isn't a crime, but it's not much of an experience either. The duo come up with a bunch of odd conceits--usually involving small behaviors taken to an extreme--then play them out without developing them. (TA) CarniKid Productions offers "humorous observations about life on the road and abroad." 8 PM, west theater.

The Uncomfortables and The Perfect Gentlemen

The Uncomfortables preview their new show, Chicago Transient Authority. Dave Taylor and Jeff Madden, aka the Perfect Gentlemen, "analyze and celebrate trivialities and unhealthy human obsessions." 8 PM, south theater.

The Embassy and Head Cheese Fat Boss

The Embassy describes its show Blue Laws as "an evening of sketch comedy that is Good for America." Head Cheese Fat Boss, the company that just closed its annual holiday show The Hipmas Carol, invites viewers to "hang it up and see what tomorrow brings." 8 PM, north theater.

Waste Management and Shecky Kulhan

Waste Management "attempts to make people forget about the everyday crap in life," according to a press release. Shecky Kulhan's one-man show combines "physicality with raw passion and fantasy animal emotion." 9:30 PM, west theater.

Triplette and Teatro Bastardo

Triplette is a trio of women who've improvised together since 1998. Teatro Bastardo satirizes the news media. 9:30 PM, south theater.

The Mike and Duane Show and Cheetarah

Mike Ferbrache and Duane Freeman perform miniature rock operas. Cheetarah, an all-female ImprovOlympic team, presents Cheetarah: 6 Girl Stall. 9:30 PM, north theater.

FRIDAY 7

Boiled Wieners

The Toronto ensemble has just released its first comedy CD. 8 PM, west theater.

Punch Drunk Comedy

This Dallas group pushes a message of "sharp, innovative comedy and responsible oral hygiene." 8 PM, south theater.

Flaming Box of Stuff

Seattle's Flaming Box of Stuff will explore the mythology of the American west. 8 PM, north theater.

Last Call Cleveland

This Ohio ensemble promises that its show Never Never Shake Your Baby is "without pretension, social commentary, or any discernible message whatsoever." 9 PM, west theater.

Ten West

Jon Monastero and Stephen Simon comprise this LA duo. 9 PM, south theater.

Frank Ford and Shane Estep

These Dallas writer-performers present excerpts from their latest effort, Feetprints (Don't Fail Me Now). 9 PM, north theater.

Olde English

Based in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, this troupe combines live comedy and video. 10 PM, west theater.

Bald Faced Lie

The Seattle-based company presents Speechless, a "show without dialogue." 10 PM, south theater.

The Waitstaff

The Waitstaff claims to be "Philly's premier sketch comedy troupe." 10 PM, north theater.

Meat

Meat is four women from New York. 11 PM, west theater.

Superpunk

In Superpunk Live, this local group promises, it won't "get hung up on through lines, forced opinions, and a message." 11 PM, south theater.

The Mantasticks

The all-male local group performs. 11 PM, north theater.

SketchFest 2004 Documentary

Screening of a 50-minute documentary about last year's festival. Midnight, west theater. Free.

SATURDAY 8

Monsters From the Id

This Chicago group has been performing and making short films for close to ten years. 7 PM, west theater.

Eclectic Muse

Holy Moses: Take Two Tablets and Call Me in the Morning is "the real story behind the Ten Commandments." 7 PM, south theater.

Stir-Friday Night!

The Asian-American ensemble performs a "best-of" show. 7 PM, north theater.

Boiled Wieners

See listing for Fri 1/7. 8 PM, west theater.

Punch Drunk Comedy

See listing for Fri 1/7. 8 PM, south theater.

Flaming Box of Stuff

See listing for Fri 1/7. 8 PM, north theater.

Last Call Cleveland

See listing for Fri 1/7. 9 PM, west theater.

Ten West

See listing for Fri 1/7. 9 PM, south theater.

Frank Ford and Shane Estep

See listing for Fri 1/7. 9 PM, north theater.

Olde English

See listing for Fri 1/7. 10 PM, west theater.

Bald Faced Lie

See listing for Fri 1/7. 10 PM, south theater.

The Waitstaff

See listing for Fri 1/7. 10 PM, north theater.

Meat

See listing for Fri 1/7. 11 PM, west theater.

Defiant Thomas Brothers

This delightfully dysfunctional duo features brainy black comic Seth Thomas and his lunkheaded, not-so-silent white sidekick Paul Thomas (no relation). (LB) 11 PM, south theater.

Maximum Party Zone

These ImprovOlympic veterans perform a new screenplay. 11 PM, north theater.

Sketch-U-Bator

Late-night open mike for SketchFest participants. Midnight, west theater. Free.

SUNDAY 9

Open Forum

Performers, writers, and directors discuss such subjects as creating shows and building audiences; the public is welcome to attend. 1 PM, west theater. Free.

Men of God and Persimmony Whispers Two local groups share a bill. Men of God base their sketches on audience suggestions, creating new material for each show. The members of Persimmony Whispers are "deeply rooted in the bowels of the comedy world." 4 PM, west theater.

Sassafrass Productions and The USA Bagel Players

Sassafrass Productions promises "old timey sketch comedy." The USA Bagel Players take on corporate evil in CC: Jim From Accounting. 4 PM, south theater.

Afro and Ohly and Soul Fools

Afro and Ohly say "the world will stop as you know it," whatever that means. Soul Fools is an African-American ensemble taking on issues "current as well as historic." 4 PM, north theater.

Rhythm Method and FuzzyCo

These are two local groups. 5:30 PM, west theater.

Cathcart and Olson and Dani Sher and Katie Watson

The husband-and-wife team of Jay Olson and Melissa Cathcart presents Pairs, a "sketch comedy show about symmetry." Dani Sher and Katie Watson evaluate "sex, drunkenness, and Hall & Oates." 5:30 PM, south theater.

Ton Def and Your Little Ponies

There's no denying that Brad Norman and Joey Tilton, aka the rock band Your Little Ponies, can play guitar and carry a tune. Their jokey songs are fairly well constructed, the lyrics somewhat clever. Unfortunately neither duo nor shtick is very funny. Maybe the problem is that send-ups of rock 'n' roll pretension have grown both tired and redundant. (BN) Ton Def, whose members studied at the Second City training center, combines musical sketch comedy with improv. 5:30 PM, north theater.

MONDAY 10

OctaSketch: The Eight Hour Project

Four groups of performers who don't usually work together are each assigned a director and given eight hours to create a 30-minute show. The results are presented at 8 PM, west theater. $5.

THURSDAY 13

The Backrow and Whizgiggers

The Backrow promises "a commitment to sincerity in character, dialogue, and theme." The Whizgiggers insist "the energy level will start high and continue to go up" in their show. 8 PM, west theater.

Flambango and Big Kids Comedy Hour

"Our shows range from smart to silly, realistic to absurd, fat to very fat," says a mission statement from Flambango. Big Kids Comedy Hour offers "a children's television show that's adult-themed," hosted by ventriloquist John Baptista Jr. and his dummy, the Amazing Luggah (played by Marz Timms). 8 PM, south theater.

Alamo Basement and Jazz Hands Across America

Alamo Basement invites the audience to decide what sketches it will perform. Jazz Hands Across America performs a scripted musical developed through "improvisation, reimprovisation, some more improvisation, and a boatload of editing." 8 PM, north theater.

Real Good Turbo and Malice

Two local groups perform. 9:30 PM, west theater.

The Patel Leads and Outsiders

Molly Hale and Bryan Irzyk, aka the Patel Leads, promise "sketch comedy that deconstructs the underdog and raises him up to the heavens as a sacrifice to the gods." The Outsiders is an improv group making its first foray into sketch comedy; T.J. Jagodowski directs. 9:30 PM, south theater.

Asterisks and A Million Monkeys

Asterisks promises "characters and moments that are awkward, ridiculous, and funny." A Million Monkeys performs its most recent show, Sketchual Harassment. 9:30 PM, north theater.

Add a comment