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100-Proof Comedy

Open run: Mon 8 PM

Local standups perform. $10

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

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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 11/2: Sat-Sun, performances begin every 15 minutes from 1-2 PM

Staged in the shops and alleyways of Andersonville, this loose adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland features interpretations of each of the book’s chapters by an array of visual and performing artists. Audience members are led to each site by a white-rabbit docent, encountering Alice-related graffiti and charming street tableaux along the way. Of the longer pieces—curated by Noelle Krimm, revisiting a project she created for the Neo-Futurists in 2004—the ones in the production's first half most closely approximate Carroll's brand of uncuddly whimsy. The highlight is Josh Zagoren's puppet show starring a Lewis Black-like dodo. Later efforts slip into performance-art cliches or strain to impart a meaningful message. Can't we have nonsense without a moral anymore? —Zac Thompson $20, $15 for students

http://upendedproductions.com
Neo-Futurarium (map)
5153 N. Ashland Ave.
Andersonville
phone 773-275-5255
Alice

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All Girl Edgar Allen Poe

Through 11/8: Fri-Sat 8 PM
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The Chicago Mammals’ third production for its All Girl Project, this compilation of six Poe-inspired one-acts is devised, directed by, and stars women. Pieces range from a wordless "Masque of the Red Death" to a more straight-up adaptation of "The Raven," but only "The Pit and the Pendulum," adapted and directed by Charlotte Drover, gets under your skin in a terrifying and sensory-addling way. On the comedic side, Amy Harmon has spot-on timing and deadpan delivery in "The Tell-Tale Heart," while Liz Chase is appropriately clingy and slavish in "The Black Cat." Overall, the production shows impressive breadth on the Halloween spectrum, but "Imp of the Perverse" feels too slow and wordy, "Masque" too abstract to make much impact. —Marissa Oberlander $20

http://chicagomammals.com
Zoo Studio (map)
4001 N. Ravenswood Ave., Ste B-1
North Center
phone 312-404-9931
All Girl Edgar Allen Poe

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All My Sons

Through 11/15: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM

Arthur Miller's 1947 Broadway hit, deeply influenced by Greek drama and Henrik Ibsen, focuses on the family of a prosperous factory owner, Joe Keller, who's hiding a guilty secret: he allowed defective airplane parts to be shipped to the military during World War II, resulting in the deaths of 21 pilots. The secret comes to light—with tragic consequences for the whole Keller clan—when Joe's son proposes marriage to the daughter of Joe's former business partner, who went to prison for the crime while Joe himself beat the rap. This heavy-handed but undeniably powerful American classic crackles under Michael Menendian's direction thanks to intense and honest performances by the entire cast—in particular Chuck Spencer as Joe, Matthew Klingler as his son, and the superb JoAnn Montemurro as Joe's wife, who clings desperately to the hope that her other son, an airman reported MIA, is not among the war dead. —Albert Williams $36, $15 for students

Raven Theatre (map)
6157 N. Clark St.
Edgewater
phone 773-338-2177
All My Sons

Amazing Grace

Through 11/2: Tue and Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Wed 2 and 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM

Who would have thought that a musical based on the life of John Newton, a British slave trader turned clergyman, abolitionist, and hymn writer (yes, he wrote "Amazing Grace") would turn out to be such a ripping yarn? True, Arthur Giron and Christopher Smith (who's also behind the music and lyrics) embellish his story, fashioning a carefully crafted plot out of a chaotic if fascinating life. But who cares? This is theater, after all, not a classroom. And this "pre-Broadway" Equity production packed with fine songs, stirring adventure, and amazing stage effects—not to mention an ensemble's worth of terrific performances—is absolutely riveting. From the moment charismatic Josh Young enters as Newton, we want to know the story of this gifted young man, who told no lie when he called himself a wretch. —Jack Helbig $32-$87

Bank of America Theatre (map)
18 W. Monroe St.
Loop
phone 312-902-1400
Amazing Grace

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The American Revolution

11/8-11/28: Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 4 PM

Theater Unspeakable retells the story of the American Revolution with seven actors suspended two feet in the air on a 21-square-foot platform. $17

http://adventurestage.org
Vittum Theater (map)
1012 N. Noble St.
West Town/Noble Square
phone 773-342-4141

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Angela of Death

9/12-11/7: Fri 8 PM

It may not have the best timing, what with the flurry of celebrity and international deaths in the news, but the Annoyance's latest dark musical comedy has some potential. Billed as "a musical about surviving high school," it stars Marybeth Kram as Angela Ostrowski, a girl whose boyfriends all die in mysterious fashion (you know—helicopter explosion, too much body spray next to a lit cigarette). Her love may be a death sentence, but Angela's just looking for "Mr. Gives a Shit," as she sings in the opener, "Angela's Song." Matt Griffo and Jillian E. Mueller's numbers are fun and wide-ranging, including some unexpected rap bits, but they could use some focus and polish in execution. —Marissa Oberlander $20, $15 for students

Annoyance Theatre (map)
851 W. Belmont
Lakeview
phone 773-697-9693

Animal Farm

10/18-11/9: Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3 and 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM

George Orwell's biting 1945 barnyard allegory of totalitarianism is propelled by a sharp sense of moral outrage. Despite roping in the novel's author as a character to deliver a prologue and epilogue, this respectful, by-the-numbers adaptation by Althos Low lacks that essential Orwellian quality. Sporting animal heads and olive-green fatigues, the cast members make an admirable effort to capture the body language of the various winged and four-legged farm animals they play. But due to the somber tone and plodding pacing of Hallie Gordon's production for Steppenwolf for Young Adults, the overall effect is stilted and remote. Only Blake Montgomery, as a Stalinesque pig, reaches the appropriately grotesque level of hypocrisy and inhumanity that Orwell decried with such passion and precision. —Zac Thompson $20

Steppenwolf Theatre (map)
1650 N. Halsted St.
Old Town
phone 312-335-1650
Animal Farm

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The Anyway Cabaret

Through 11/16: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2 PM

The red stars adorning several performers’ chests in TUTA Theatre's puzzling music-hall menagerie suggests the show's half-baked "animal acts" stepped out of "The Sneeches." The oblique Dr. Seuss reference appears apt, but beyond the critters’ cute names—the Fish With a Wish, the Skunk in a Funk—all similarities end. While Seuss filled his simple verses with wit and wisdom, Slovenia's Martin Marion, who wrote music, book and lyrics, opts for simplemindedness. Each of the 17 songs repeats one or two modest points—cows moo, kangaroos poo—which coalesce into one easy, unearned sentiment: live fully despite death's inevitability. Director Jacqueline Stone's unfortunate cast can't sell the empty songs, while a fussy, disgruntled deer all-too-accurately tells them how bad their show is. —Justin Hayford $15

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Storefront Theater (map)
Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph St.
Loop
phone 312-742-8497
The Anyway Cabaret

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Apes of Wrath

Open run: 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

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 PM

A lot has changed for iO in the past month, but an old standby, the Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience, remains as entertaining as ever. The weekly show, which was originated by David Koechner, Adam McKay, and, yes, Armando Diaz during the trio's heyday at iO, uses performer monologues as inspiration for a night of masterful long-form improv. $12

iO Theater (map)
1501 N. Kingsbury
Wrigleyville

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Assemblers 3: Countdown to Assemblers 4!

Through 11/21: Fri 9:30 PM

A sketch show inspired by the world's obsession with superhero movies. $15, $10 for students

pH Comedy Theater (map)
1515 W. Berwyn Ave.
Andersonville

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Asylum Sundays

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