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100-Proof Comedy

Mondays, 8 p.m.

Local standups perform. $10

ComedySportz Theatre (map)
929 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212

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3peat

Open run: Wed 10:30 PM

A night of long-form improv based on monologues inspired by audience suggestions. $5

iO Theater (map)
3541 N. Clark St.
Wrigleyville

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Action Comedy

Open run: Thu 8 PM

Comics are not always funny—but in those cases, they can be claimed as high art, like The Walking Dead or Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Comics—the other kind—aren't always funny either. They either curl up like dead spiders and disappear beneath a dresser forever, or they soldier on to another open mike. That quick homonym demonstration aside, here's the deal with a new stand-up comedy show happening at Challengers Comics + Conversation on the last Thursday of every month. Action Comedy is a nod to Action Comics, the series in which Superman first appeared, published by what would become DC Comics. The show's produced by a five-boy team of Kevin Brody, Mitch Kurka, Ian Abramson, Jeff Scheen, and Zach Peterson, and joins an already pretty stellar line-up of live programming at the shop. Continue reading >>

Challengers Comics + Conversation (map)
1845 N. Western Ave.
Logan Square
phone 773-278-0155

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Alice

Through 8/10: Sat 2 and 5 PM, Sun noon and 3 PM

Michael Monteiro Wise's free-wheeling adaptation of Lewis Carroll's unhinged 1865 children's tale transforms Alice from an idle Victorian preteen to a contemporary American young woman bewildered by urban chaos on her first day in Chicago. It's a strained premise, but Nothing Without a Company's decision to stage the piece as an escapade running through the park is inspired, as characters—both human and puppet—appear in the most unexpected places. But while director Anna Rose li-Epstein honors the irrational and nonlinear aspects of Carroll's writing, she disregards its hallucinogenic clarity, leaving her cast to flail through 75 minutes of largely indiscriminate, impersonal, bellicose lunacy. Taylor Dariarow's fuzzily defined Alice has little personality beyond excessive exuberance, and it's never clear why any of us should follow her. —Justin Hayford

http://nothingwithoutacompany.org
Lincoln Park (map)
Cannon, north of Fullerton
Lincoln Park

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Alice in Wonderland

Through 8/10: dates, times, locations, and prices vary; see website

Staging Lewis Carroll's well-known tale is demanding, and this Theatre-Hikes show rises to the outdoor (which is to say, sweaty, noisy, variable) occasion: with just a few props and costume pieces, the actors create the sea of tears, the dodo race, the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the grinning Cheshire cat. Alice (the perfectly cast Madalyn Mattsey) of course attends the Mad Hatter's tea party, and is given a baby by the Duchess (when the baby become a pig, it's tossed out into the audience). My six- and seven-year-old companions were enthralled by Alice's wandering journey through this sometimes scary, always surprising world, while I marveled anew at Carroll's intellectual playfulness—his language, particularly his tale of the Jabberwock (recited impressively by Sam Fain), is thrilling, playing with received ideas of rationality, the self, time, and authority. —Suzanne Scanlon $13-$19

http://theatre-hikes.org

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All Our Tragic

8/15-10/15: Fri and Mon 8 PM (parts 1-4 only), Sat-Sun 11 AM

There are 32 surviving Greek tragedies, and the Hypocrites theater company figured, why not do ’em all at once? All Our Tragic links the plays into one 12-hour-long epic. There are shorter versions on the schedule for the weak of will, but today features the whole shebang with breaks for feasting and boozing—just as the Greeks intended. $30 for Fri and Mon, $75 for Sat-Sun

http://the-hypocrites.com
Den Theatre (map)
1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Wicker Park/Bucktown
phone 773-609-2336
All Our Tragic

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Anna, in the Darkness

Through 8/2: Sat 10 PM

Dream Theatre's celebrating Halloween year-round at its new Lincoln Square digs by running Jeremy Menekseoglu's classic one-woman thriller weekly between main-stage shows. Megan Merrill embodies Anna, a tortured southern schoolteacher, as fearlessly and unnervingly as she did when I saw this performed in 2012. And the anxiety of being trapped in the basement with her as angry, fanatical townies seek to punish her for "that thing" she did was very real—all the more so when the lights flickered and a brick sailed through the window. The basement, reimagined in a new theater, is a reminder how much of Dream Theatre's magic is in the eerie spaces it creates. The company is already cluttering up this one, and I suspect it will settle in soon with alternate universes more creative than our nightmares. —Marissa Oberlander $20

Dream Laboratory (map)
5026 N. Lincoln
Lincoln Square
phone 773-552-8616

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Apes of Wrath

Ongoing: Tue-Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, Sun 7 PM

The six spritely, mercurial, wholly engaging performers behind Second City E.T.C.'s Apes of Wrath work overtime to make their show appear to be about something. But just what remains a mystery. And an unnecessary one at that. Press materials describe the two-hour sketch comedy review in vaguely dystopic terms. "In the world of high stakes, we become a more heightened version of ourselves," the PR asserts, "which can sometimes resemble more simian behavior than human." Despite the syntactical tangle, the point seems clear: this will be a series of skits about our baser selves, in which "the dark and light sides of our human devolution" will be showcased. Except for the most part, they're not. Unitard-clad performance artists improvise poetry about the World Cup and cigarettes for inmates at Louisiana State Prison. The Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies, on a collision course, seduce each other by singing about their impending billion-night stand. The attention-span-challenged BuzzFeed staff try to concoct daily lists with social significance, like "The 15 Vegetables That Don't Make Me Greenhouse Gassy." Continue reading >> $23

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Second City E.T.C. (map)
Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells St.
Old Town
phone 312-337-3992
Apes of Wrath

AracaWorks: Chicago

8/8-8/9

A group of Broadway producers from the Araca Group host staged readings of new works including Ask/Tell by David Bar Katz and The Realness by Idris Goodwin.

http://araca.com
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American Theater Company (map)
1909 W. Byron St.
North Center
phone 773-409-4125

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Arguments and Grievances

Open run: first Sun of each month, 8 PM

As the country faces deep, divisive questions about the nature and direction of our shared society, some issues are in perilous danger of falling through the cracks. Phish vs. Insane Clown Posse. Friend Zone vs. Bone Zone. Star Trek vs. Star Wars. Curated by Zach Peterson, this excellent debate series enlists some of the city's funniest underground comedians to hash out the overlooked questions of our day. The lineup and topics rotate each week, but on opening night the comics came doubly armed with hard facts and potent bits. Politicians take note: Showing up to a debate in ICP greasepaint is one sure way to polarize a crowd. On the Juggalo question, there can be no middle ground. —Keith Griffith

Schubas (map)
3159 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-525-2508

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The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience & Hootennany

Open run: Mon 8:30 PM

A monologist tells personal stories that inspire the improv. $12

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iO (map)
3541 N. Clark St.
Wrigleyville
phone 773-880-0199

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Asylum Sundays

Open run: Sun 7 PM
phone 708-932-0652
,

Poetry and performances with live band accompaniment by Verzatile. Includes networking. $10

Le Fleur de Lis (map)
301 E. 43rd St.
Bronzeville
phone 773-268-8770
Asylum Sundays

Avenue Q

Through 7/27: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 6:30 PM

The brilliance of this foulmouthed 2003 Broadway musical comedy (book by Jeff Whitty, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) is not just that it skewers a certain long-running PBS kids' show, but that it does so while telling a compelling story, about a callow recent college grad coming to grips with the real world and all the downwardly mobile misfits he meets in his edgy New York neighborhood. L. Walter Stearns packs his production with adept quadruple threats (they sing, they act, they dance, and they work puppets). Jackson Evans earns lots of laughs as the hapless hero who finds himself all the way out on Avenue Q. But the heart of the show belongs to Adam Fane and Daniel Smeriglio, playing closeted knockoffs of Sesame Street's odd couple, Bert and Ernie. —Jack Helbig $20-$59

Mercury Theater (map)
3745 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-325-1700

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Baby Wants Candy: The Rock Musical

Open run: Fri 10:30 PM

Baby Wants Candy—a tight troupe now famous for its improvised musicals—began in 1997 as one of the dozens of ImprovOlympic teams formed every year. Somehow they've avoided the usual dissolution of such groups. More impressive, they've never experienced the artistic conservatism that paralyzes improvisers eager to "do it right"—and reap the reward, presumably, of a career in NYC or LA. Instead the troupe has become the very model of smart, physical, quick-thinking, and just plain silly long-form improvisers; they still play well together and manage to entertain. Inspired by the improbable suggestion "So this is it" at the show I saw, nine actors (backed by the five-member Yes Band) improvised a complicated, hilarious, tongue-in-cheek tale of three partnerships on the rocks--two marriages and a professional relationship--and the narrator who helps bring the couples back together. —Jack Helbig $15

Apollo Theater (map)
2540 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-935-6100

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Ball at the Savoy

Through 8/3: Fri-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2 PM

This jazz-inflected comic operetta was a big hit for composer Paul Abraham when it opened in Berlin in December 1932 (a month before Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, which prompted Abraham, a Jew, to leave the country). This long-overdue American premiere by Chicago Folks Operetta—directed by Kristen Barrett and conducted by Anthony Barrese, well-regarded pros on the regional opera circuit—reveals Ball at the Savoy as a musically inventive work that fuses lyrical waltzes with bouncy jazz, sensuous tangos, and even a few hints of Hindemith-style dissonant counterpoint. The libretto (by Fritz Lohner-Beda and Alfred Grünwald, in a new English translation by Gerald Frantzen and Hersh Glagov) mixes operetta sentimentality and screwball comedy in the tale of an aristocrat's wife who (almost) cheats on her husband in revenge for his supposed infidelity. A farcical subplot involves a Turkish diplomat who falls for a free-spirited American songwriter. Racy stuff for its time, the work is quaint and even a bit sexist now, but a historically significant piece of musical theater nonetheless, and a wonderful vehicle for the superb soprano Alison Kelly as the (almost) unfaithful wife. Frantzen, Kelly's spouse, is in fine tenor voice as the husband, and the chorus and orchestra are excellent. —Albert Williams $35-$40

http://chicagofolksoperetta.org
Stage 773 (map)
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-327-5252
Ball at the Savoy

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