Hosting their 88th annual Christmas production, The Chicago Bar Association casts aside its collective briefcase in favor of costumes and comedy for a laughter-packed revue. Throughout the show, a talented lineup of performers legally splits sides with well-tuned ditties, choreographed dances, and irreverent parodies that poke fun at local and national legal figures, politicians, sports stars and more. Leaving no stone or gavel unturned, acts will also address many of the year's top headlines, allowing audience members to discard silly-putty replicas of newscasters and relive 2011 in style.
The Arie Crown Theater—named after Lithuanian-native business tycoon, Arie Crown, and Theater, his loyal shar pei—has been a Chicago staple since 1960. Although its home at McCormick Place caught fire in 1967, somehow the theater was spared. It emerged from the smoke to welcome the biggest names in entertainment to its stage, acts including the Rolling Stones, the Temptaitions, the Bolshoi Ballet, and Jerry Seinfeld as well as stagings of Hello Dolly with Carol Channing and The King and I with Yul Brenner.
Amid Chicago's capricious and ever-changing bar scene, Lonie Walker's Underground Wonder Bar has remained a downtown fixture for more than 20 years, and it's no wonder why. Whether it's the live blues, jazz, world, and funk music that echoes through the bar each night, the 4 a.m. closing hour, or the fact that the owner herself regularly takes the stage to sing with her band, the bar seems to embody the Chicago nightlife. An eclectic set of live acts plays to an equally eclectic crowd every night of the week at the spot's two-level, three-stage River North location.
In December, The Second City—Chicago's go-to haven for improv—will open a sister theater, UP Comedy Club, whose packed calendar lists original performances by Second City comics, standup from visiting comedians, and fast-paced improv revues. In the theater’s inaugural month, visitors can indulge in giggles at the holiday season's expense during The Second City's Dysfunctional Holiday Revue, a full-length show lampooning Yuletide staples, from holiday gift exchanges to pulling clumps of white hair out of the chimney. In The Second City's History of Chicago, the troupe culls the best moments from decades of performances to create a hilarious seminar on Windy City lore. The selection of shows rotates with changing seasons and visiting performers. Every show is rated for appropriate audiences, letting parents know when to bring the kids to fine-tune their funny bones, and when to bring pet parrots to update their repertoire.
Embedded within Chicago's famed venue for sketch and improv comedy, The Second City Training Center hosts performances from a corps of jokesters culled from faculty, alumni, and current students. The productions encourage innovative works of comedy and experimental theater that adhere to The Second City's teachings, which include the development of new voices and points of view, and no fewer than four references to alumnus George Wendt.
Speak Easy’s edgy brand of comedy is literally underground. The brainchild of seven local comics—many of whom have sharpened their teeth at Second City, iO, and The Edge Comedy Club—the weekly showcase is held in the basement of Stanley's Kitchen and Tap. Five comedians and one headliner fill the stage with everything from one-liners to oddball storytelling. Drinking is highly encouraged—Goose Island is the sponsor—and burgers and other savory bites are served throughout the show. Though the feel is informal, “the headliners are solid, so don’t write this one off too quickly,” Time Out Chicago noted in its 2012 Student Guide.