Riddles Comedy Club has been rolling out the laugh-barrels for more than 20 years, propelling standup stars such as Ellen DeGeneres, Drew Carey, and Martin Lawrence into the spotlight. Today’s deal treats visitors to the show of their choice between now and the end of May, plus tickets to any future show attended after the first show. In addition to entertaining the troops in Iraq, Al Del Bene (October 14–15) has accompanied Dane Cook on his Isolated Incident tour. Political satirist Tim Slagle (October 21–22) will give funny bones a pre-election tickling, and Trial by Laughter champ Mike Baldwin (October 28–29) plans to fill bellies with laughs before guests pack them with Thanksgiving stuffing. Instead of rehearsing their own standup routines for crowds of fickle mannequins, club-goers can practice them on Riddles’ friendly bartenders as they sip beers, martinis, or Long Island iced teas.
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.
Renovated in 2006, the nearly century-old Wilmette Theatre entertains theatergoers with a rotating slate of current and classic offerings, including Hollywood blockbusters and niche art films. Cylindrical light from a whirring projector flickers across two auditoriums, where movie-going duos can snack on buttery tubs of popcorn while sipping a soda and whispering spoilers into the facility’s pristine Soundfold curtain. The Wilmette underwent a key renovation in 2006, fortifying the century-old venue’s commitment to quality art with fresh coats of paint, an overhauled concessions center, and screenings of feature-length still lifes.
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.
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 quick-witted troupe of performers at pH Productions stirs up a rollicking concoction of comedy that bubbles with equal parts improv and audience interaction. Founded in 2002, the troupe's scientific moniker celebrates the onstage chemistry that leads to a great night of improv and leaves nothing but a neutral puddle of goo when incompatible performers accidentally touch. Classes teach would-be improvisers the arts of extemporaneous comedy with a focus on hands-on learning, and a slate of shows delight audiences with long- and short-form sketches, many of which have been recognized with the Chicago Reader's Critic's Choice award.