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.
Giggles' laughter-rich atmosphere recently earned it a pick as Milwaukee's Best Live Comedy Club on CityVoter in 2009. Upcoming headliners include HBO and Comedy Central veteran Tracy Smith, bringing her sassy blend of honest reality March 18–20. On April 8–10 Giggles will feature its debut of Everybody Hates Chris actor and comedian Mike Estime. The pleasingly varied lineup enables audiences to confidently leave tomatoes at home.
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.