Chicago is known for comedy. You can see some of your favorite stand-ups at The Laugh Factory, explore famous sketch shows at The Second City, venture to the lesser-known improv shows at iO or laugh it up at local drinking shows. This city is filled with so many options; sometimes it can be overwhelming, so let's break it down. Here's a quick overview of your "back-to-school" basics - the Chicago comedy syllabus.
CHAPTER 1: STAND-UP
One of the most popular stand-up venues in Chicago, The Laugh Factory is guaranteed to deliver. Located in the heart of Lakeview, you can see featured stand-ups as well as locals, so you can get a taste of what Chicago has to offer.
UP Comedy Club is located in Piper's Alley, the same building as The Second City. UP hosts both improv and sketch shows on a regular basis, but they also have a stellar line-up of stand-ups coming this Fall. For a full list of upcoming performers, click here.
This place is located just down the street from UP and hosts a variety of stand-ups as well. Be careful, Zanies will get you with their two "item" minimum. Don't say I didn't tell you.
CHAPTER 2: SKETCH
Few places do sketch comedy better than The Second City. Second City has two great shows gracing their stages right now, "A Clown Car Named Desire" and "Let Them Eat Chaos." With shows Tuesday through Sunday, you're guaranteed to find a date and time that works for you and whatever posse you roll with.
CHAPTER 3: IMPROV
iO, formerly Improv Olympic, is the home of long form improvisation. This place does improv and only improv and it does it well. They have shows seven nights a week, but if you haven't seen TJ and Dave yet, do yourself a favor and pay the $5 to see the show. Yes, it's at 11pm on a Wednesday, but it's been running for 11 years and it's improv at its finest. Trust me, just do it.
iO might be the home of long-form improvisation, but ComedySportz is one of the best theatres in the city to see short-form and they are family friendly (which isn't always easy to find in comedy). Their house ensemble puts on shows Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays filled with high-energy games, songs, bits and audience interaction. It's a safe bet for all ages to be entertained.
CHAPTER 4: DRINKING
Bye Bye Liver is a really fun drinking comedy show. It's a sketch show mocking all of our drinking stereotypes with copious amounts of consumed alcohol scripted into the show. It's a great night out for an "of age" crowd and will definitely leave you reminiscing about all the best decisions you've ever made while under the influence.
Thirsty is an improvised drinking show where almost the entire show is created on the spot by numerous audience suggestions. Audience members also have the opportunity to join cast members to play short drinking games. Thirsty runs Friday and Saturday nights and, unfortunately, doesn't start until Friday September 20, but mark your calendars and get your tickets now because it sells out regularly.
EXTRA CREDIT: STUDENT DISCOUNTS
SmarTix is a FREE theatre ticket service offered by The League of Chicago Theatres to university and college students. Current Chicago area students can visit www.chicagoplays.com, join the mailing list and sign up to receive FREE ticket offers from Chicago area theatre companies. Students will be required to show their ID at the box office when picking up tickets. Student can contact Ben Thiem, Director of Member Services at the League of Chicago Theatres, questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HotTix.org is another discounted ticket site. You don't have to be a student to buy tickets here though. Tickets change all the time, so feel free to check back regularly to see what's on sale and save some money. Who doesn't like saving money? That's what I thought.
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