This two-month showcase of Chicago sketch comedy features more than 30 local ensembles--some well established, some new to the scene--representing a remarkable range of styles and viewpoints, with two to four groups sharing the bill at each performance. Participating troupes include Stir-Friday Night!, Annoyance Productions, Weaselicious, Brick, ÁSalsation!, GayCo Productions, the WNEP Theater, and many others; the festival is presented by Posin' at the Bar.
Sketch Fest runs through March 2 at the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. Performances are Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays-Saturdays at 7 and 9:30 PM, and Sundays at 6 PM. Admission is $18 per show, $26 for a Friday or Saturday double bill, and $75 for a festival pass. For reservations, call 773-327-5252.
Following is the schedule for January 31-February 7.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 31
Eclectic Muse Productions, Weaselicious, and Wrap the Chair Productions
Eclectic Muse Productions seeks to present character-driven comedy from a female perspective in Explosive Diary. Wrap the Chair Productions presents Hey Love, Where You At?, a set of comic monologues. Also on the bill is Weaselicious in Weaselicious V: Anti-Kamadie. 7 PM.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1
Rooftop Players and Brick
The Rooftop Players, an ensemble of Second City Conservatory graduates, employ song, dance, and improvisation as well as scripted material. Also on the program is Brick, which says it's "dedicated to the fusion of sketch comedy and theatrical presentation." 7 PM.
Broad Comedy and Teenage Sports Parade
Teenage Sports Parade, an all-male ensemble presented by Annoyance Productions, shares the bill with the all-female troupe Broad Comedy, which performs its show Gynecology. 9:30 PM.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2
Sirens and Paper Monkeys
The all-female comedy group Sirens presents Chicken Scratch, a program of character-based improvisation. "Most improv troupes use audience suggestions, but the Sirens have invented their own form. Each of the nine women has a binder filled with monologues she's written and that no other ensemble member has seen. She picks one, reads it in character, and her cohorts offer several sketches riffing on the underlying themes. . . . The monologues are hit-and-miss. . . . But the talented ensemble twists the ideas in the monologues into fresh, exciting comedy about relationships, family, sex, and beauty. The sketches are so perfect in their specificity . . . and boast such well-realized characters that they sometimes resemble scenes from a well-written play. There are some outrageous moments . . . and many ribald ones, but they arise naturally from the characters. It turns out the Sirens are as enticing as their name suggests," says Reader critic Jennifer Vanasco. Also on the bill is Paper Monkeys, whose show The Monkey in Winter combines live and video segments. 7 PM.
Galileo Players and Maximum Party Zone
The Galileo Players' An Evening With Galileo features comedy on themes of science and philosophy. It's paired with Maximum Party Zone, a three-man show that "tackles the ups and downs of revolutions and anarchists and miscarriages of justices," according to a publicity statement. 9:30 PM.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3
Monkey Etiquette Institute, Funny How, Backrow, and 4 Letter Productions
Thirty-Percent Fate is the title of 4 Letter Productions' program of "dysfunctional, fart provoking, orgasmic relationship comedy." Also on the bill: Funny How in Postpartum Recession, the Backrow in Your Fan Club, and the Monkey Etiquette Institute in More for Your Monkey! 6 PM.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7
Weaselicious, Eclectic Muse Productions, and Wrap the Chair Productions
See listing for Thursday, January 31. 7 PM.