Tucked away inside Gurnee's Holiday Inn sits Juz Jokkin Comedy Club, a new venue with a respectable pedigree. Although young, the club has already attracted heavy hitters such as Dave Chapelle and Gabriel Iglesias to its Friday and Saturday night shows. Each of these performances is hosted by Sonya D, a native Chicagoan who's appeared on BET, Showtime at the Apollo, and on stage with Kanye West.
Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
When it originally opened in 1929, the Raue Center For The Arts was dubbed "El Tovar," though no one knew what that meant?it was jut a term overheard by one of the venue's founders on a trip to the west coast. Regardless of its meaning (or lack of one), the name seemed to accurately define the theater's elegance, from the star-filled sky of its ceiling to the facades of Spanish buildings lining its walls.
El Tovar drifted into deterioration over the years, undergoing several different monikers as it switched from owner to owner. Luckily, a generous bequest from Crystal Lake resident Lucile Raue led to a much-needed restoration. A two-year renovation left the theater looking as glamorous as it did when it was El Tovar?seats were reupholstered, and every android usher received an oil change.
Formed by a group of Judson University playmakers more than a decade ago, GreenRoom Productions delights showgoers with full seasons of musicals, plays, improv, and original sketch comedy. GreenRoom's signature 90-minute Unscripted Improv Show employs its side-splitters to mine the audience for laugh-affirming anecdotes before transforming them into hilarious, family-friendly narratives devoid of plodding preshow speeches from scarf-ensconced authors. Each improv show boasts competing teams, improvised songs, and audience participation for those foolish enough to look performers in the eyes. Live music soundtracks the evening and patrons can fill laugh lairs with vittles and drinks from the on-site concession stand.
Laugh Out Loud Theater sprays the suburban fringes of Chicago with a thick foam of world-class improv comedy. An extensive, experienced cast brings a highly interactive, audience-assisted experience to the intimate Schaumburg stage, drawing on hive-mind suggestions to kick off its inevitably LOL-worthy sketches. Shows rely heavily on audience participation, and LOL's indefatigable ad-libbers make it a point to invite willing audience members up on stage to help them achieve exponential levels of funny. Though eschewing egregiously blue humor, Improv for Grownups' cast refuses to turn down any suggestion, no matter how risqué, which leads to raunchy riffs that retain the group's trademark wit. On Thursdays, Prime Time performances mix the group's regular ensemble members with in-training improvisers, delighting audiences while giving tomorrow's rib-ticklers on-the-job training.
Laugh Out Loud Theater has a full kitchen and bar—and there is no drink minimum—so guests can fill guts until they bust with each new course during the night's improvised feast of tomfoolery. Well-suited for date nights, group outings, or a way-funnier-than-usual family-bonding experience, Laugh Out Loud's improv comedy will inspire even the most nonspontaneous audience members to put down their cue cards and bust out a few jokes of their own.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood tickle ribs in an evening of improvised comedy. Starting with suggestions form the audience, Mochrie and Sherwood fashion witty sketches that free guffaws from bellies and remind sad clowns what they've given up for their craft. Interactivity spices up the evening, with the comedic pair calling audience members to the stage to assist in chuckle-making scenes. The Hemmens Cultural Center ensconces guests in main-floor seats guaranteed to be within 100 feet of the stage, affording straight sightlines to onstage action and comfortable distance from the occasional gargoyle infestations of the balcony.