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.
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.
For more than 20 years, comedians of all levels of notoriety have peddled their laugh-inducing verbal wares on Riddles Comedy Clubs? stages. An airbrushed city skyline sits behind the corner stage, where such comedians as Jeff Dunham, Louie Anderson, and Drew Carey slung jokes to side-split audiences. A full bar with overhanging LCD TVs dispenses alcoholic and nonalcoholic whistle-wetters in between sets. Additionally, Riddles' lots house free parking for those driving from far-off locales or patrons who can't find a limo service that takes knock-knock jokes as payment.
Hand-cut and -rubbed with award-winning seasoning, the wings at Cigars and Stripes are smoked for more than four hours before pit masters reheat them on the grill. Then, they toss them in your choice of homemade sauces, including a buffalo-style sauce made with cayenne and a super hot sauce made with peppers and molasses. The process is emblematic of the culinary team’s barbecue mastery, which they further showcase with entrees that change throughout the week, including hand-pulled pork marinated with pineapple and mango, slow-smoked for 13 hours, and topped with chipotle corn salsa. To complement those sauce-soaked bites, bartenders keep 13 beers on tap and stock tons more by the bottle, including Delirium Tremens and Founders Breakfast Stout. Comedians grace the bar’s stage twice weekly as part of a calendar that also includes regular movie nights, TV-nights, live music, and trivia, and once a year Cigars and Stripes trades chuckles for chills with their annual Freaktober Fest, which features beer tastings, tarot card readings, and screenings of scary movies, such as Beaches.
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.