The seasoned and bourgeoning comedians featured at the King Day Comedy Tribute rattle off knee-slapping anecdotes while audiences indulge in Club E’s drink specials. Established funnyman Shawn Morgan, who has appeared on BET’s series Comic View, courts chuckles while discussing relatable topics such as salvaging relationships and making a birthday cake that can conceal a rattlesnake. Emerging jesters Laroyce Hawkins, Meechie Hall, and Calvin Evans—the latter of whom is the winner of WGN’s Next Big Comic Contest—open the evening with ice-breaking standup routines, prepping audiences and stomach muscles for an evening of belly laughs.
Hailed by the Chicago Reader as the Best New Play of 2011, Musical of the Living Dead takes audiences on a rip-roaring journey beyond the grave with its satirical send-ups of classic zombie films and musical theater. Now that their bodies have had one more year to decay, the play’s zombies return for a triumphant second run that promises even more brain-eating mayhem than the last. The curtain opens on 10 survivors of a recent zombie apocalypse, trapped in a farmhouse and willing to try anything to escape. Directors Marc Lewallen and Brad Younts gleefully fulfill horror-film conventions in selecting which cast members survive and which succumb to the screeching songs of the zombies, who have sewn up their larynxes to perform harmonized ditties in honor of Halloween. As musical trends rarely reach the deaf ears of the undead, the play’s soundtrack gathers inspiration from such disparate sources as George Gershwin, Green Day, and the werewolf doo-wop group that sometimes practices out of The Charnel House’s basement.
At The ComedySportz Theatre, audience suggestions keep an all-ages, family-friendly and fast-paced vortex of scenes, games, and songs spinning in competitive shows that pit two improv teams against each other. Inside the intimate, 149-seat theater, spontaneity rules as a referee moderates the all-ages-appropriate hilarity pitched between the Chicago Bosses and The Evanston Express. At the end of each comedic duel, the points and audience votes are tallied to determine the winning team, sentencing the losers to feed the doves that live inside the winners' top hats.
The ComedySportz Training Center's seasoned instructors also teach six-week courses in the art of improvised hilarity and the essential virtues of spontaneity, risk taking, and engagement with the moment. Through scene work, ComedySportz games, and short- and long-form improv, students learn to keep audiences roaring in order to jump-start a career or become a more affable bank robber.
The mission of The Sidebar Show is simple: host club-caliber comedians without the club. Inside Riverview Tavern's laid-back showroom, three Chicago standups produce sets featuring hand-picked talent from the local and national scenes. The relaxed atmosphere allows guests to kick back, sip on a beer, and watch the witty performers, free from worries such as drink minimums and bouncer-enforced laugh quotas.
There's cheap beer on tap and live entertainment onstage every night at the Gallery Cabaret. This winning formula has earned it the title of Corner Bar of the Week by Metromix and one of the Best Bars for New Bands by CBS Chicago. Local art on the walls, some of it by owner Ken Strandberg himself, gives the place a creative, after-hours- coffee-shop vibe, a spell quickly broken by frosty mugs and pitchers of suds such as Three Floyds, Bass, and Harp.