A theater and associated ensemble that engages in showy and outrageous humor seven nights a week, the Annoyance has served as a launching pad for many successful stage and screen actors. Back to the stage to celebrate the 20th anniversary is the comedy “Coed Prison Sluts,” the flagship show of Annoyance Productions, every Friday and Saturday at 10:01 p.m. ($20). Don’t be afraid to wait around for the racy “Skinprov” at midnight ($7) on Saturdays. On Tuesdays, the improv supergroup “Chicagoland & Fish Nuts” ($8) performs at 8 p.m. “Oprah! The Last Show!” ($15) is half sketch show, half satire, and it’s performed on Friday evenings at 8 p.m. On Thursdays at 10:30 p.m., “Messing with a friend” ($5) is a collection of self-edited improvised scenes based on a single suggestion. Located at 4830 N. Broadway. Call 773-561-4665 for entire show listings or visit www.annoyanceproductions.com.
iO, formerly referred to as Improv Olympic, boasts two theaters, two bars and more than 25 improv and sketch shows a week. There is seriously something for everyone on iO’s schedule. Performers from the iO theater have gone on to work for shows like Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, MADtv, 30 Rock and more. Tickets range from free to $18. Located at 3541 N. Clark, just steps from Wrigley Field. Call 773-880-0199 or visit www.iOimprov.com.
John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, John Candy, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Steve Carell, Tina Fey…the list of proven veteran stars goes on and on at the nation’s most famous comedic theatre company. Generating laughs since 1959, Second City boasts a touring company that takes the show on the road, a training center and expansions to Toronto and Hollywood. But to experience this true Chicago landmark, it’s all about catching a performance by a resident troupe that writes and performs original revues. Intelligent, physical, timely and hilarious, the
Second City is as reliable as it comes in the world of comedy. “South Side of Heaven,” the 99th mainstage revue, has been called “groundbreaking, intelligent, knee-slappingly hilarious and richly textured” by critics. From the cultural divide between Cubs and White Sox fans to a troubled president, creepy TSA agent and the delicate distinction between dancing and stripping, it’s all just part of the natural flow of “South Side of Heaven.” Performed Tues.-Thurs. at 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and Sun. at 7 p.m. Go back to the good old days at “The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life,” the 34th revue on the e.t.c. stage. Travel back to the ’90s, when the economy wasn’t such a mess and life was a little simpler. Performed Thurs. at 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and Sun. at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $22-$27. “Fair and Unbalanced” a sketch show about politician and celebrity mishaps, hits the stage Mondays at 8 p.m. ($16) and Saturdays at 4 p.m. ($22). The Second City e.t.c. stage is located at 1608 N. Wells St., on the second floor of Piper’s Alley. Free improv sessions follow the last show of the evening every night except Friday. Located at 1616 N. Wells, at North Ave. Call 312-337-3992 or visit www.SecondCity.com.
THE COMEDYSPORTZ THEATRE
Shows, or matches, as they’re called, involve two teams of three comedians each competing for laughs, with a ham of a referee keeping things moving by inviting suggestions from the crowd and calling fouls. Matches consist of more than a dozen different games. It’s a unique blend of fast, funny and smart improv, and points are awarded based on how hard the improvisers make you laugh. The battle of Red vs. Blue is completely improvised six times a week, and the show is never the same twice. Clean, quick-hitting comedy for the whole family. Tickets are $21, and shows are Thurs. at 8 p.m., Fri. at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Sat. at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
If you’re looking for some more adult-style entertainment from the folks at ComedySportz, well, they’ve got that covered too. “The Hot Karl,” ($10) a brand of no-holds barred, long-form improv, is dirty, politically incorrect and at times offensive — not to mention as much fun as it sounds. It’s been around since 1999 and regularly plays to packed houses Saturday nights at midnight. On Fridays at midnight, come get “Smashed” at the improvised bachelorette party that is part improv, part dance party and all wild ($10). Starting at 8 p.m. on Wednesday nights is free improv with Free Night of Comedy. Celebrating more than 20 years in Chicago, ComedySportz’s impressive new theater is just steps from the Belmont stop on the Brown and Red lines. Located at 929 W. Belmont, between Sheffield and Clark. Call 773-549-8080 or visit www.ComedySportzChicago.com.
Celebrating its 31st year in Chicago, Zanies has a solid history of serving up the most consistent stand-up comedy in the city. Dozens of hand-drawn pictures of some of the more famous comedians to share the stage adorn the walls of the intimate space. Jay Leno, Jeffrey Ross, Kevin
Nealon, Jeff Garlin and Gilbert Gottfried make stops on occasion. Shows are at 8:30 p.m. Sun.-
Thurs., 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Fri. and 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets start at $22 but can vary based on the headlining comedian. There is a two-item minimum purchase
requirement, and seating is general admission. Located at 1548 N. Wells, just south of North Avenue, as well as suburban St. Charles and Vernon Hills. Call 312-337-4027 or visit www.Zanies.com.