As the birthplace of modern improv, Chicago boasts a theater scene teeming with off-the-cuff comedy troupes. Laugh at the best of them with this weeklong itinerary of long-standing local improv shows. MONDAY | The Second City Improv All-Stars at UP Comedy Club It makes sense to start the week out at Second City, Chicago’s comedy mecca. Although most of Second City’s shows feature Saturday Night Live–style sketch comedy, Monday nights go off-script for 60 minutes of original goofs from the company’s top players. (230 W. North Ave.; Mondays at 8 p.m.; $17) TUESDAY | Tuesday Night Thing (TNT) at the Annoyance Theatre Venerable improv gurus TJ Jagodowski and Noah Gregoropoulos each lead their own long-form team during this late-night event at the Annoyance Theatre. Grab a drink from the bar and settle in for two 30-minute performances. (851 W, Belmont Ave.; Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.; $8) WEDNESDAY | TJ & Dave at iO Can’t get enough TJ? Catch him with with his comedic other half, Dave Pasquesi, in their critically acclaimed long-form show TJ & Dave. The duo will be christening their very own stage, The Mission Theater, at iO’s newly opened space starting August 13. (1501 N. Kingsbury St.; Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m.; $10) THURSDAY | ComedySportz Although the team at ComedySportz Theatre keeps the jokes rated PG for their all-ages audience, there are still plenty of laughs to be had. The group keeps things moving with fast-paced improv games, enacting short scenes based on audience suggestions. (929 W. Belmont Ave.; Thursdays at 8 p.m.; $22) FRIDAY | Baby Wants Candy at the Apollo Theater To date, Baby Wants Candy has produced more than 1,700 original musicals. The players create a new show during each performance based on a title shouted out from the audience. In addition to shows at the Apollo Theater, the crew and their live band also perform at the Annoyance Theatre. (2540 N. Lincoln Ave.; Fridays at 10:30 p.m.; $20) SATURDAY | Comedy Showcase with Rainbow Deli at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy This Saturday showcase is three shows in one. Two of CIC’s house teams open for the Rainbow Deli crew, delivering long-form performances in three distinct improv styles at an intimate theater with a new full bar. (1422 W. Irving Park Rd.; Saturdays at 10:30 p.m.; $10) SUNDAY | Big Yellow Bus at The Playground Theater Big Yellow Bus has been a mainstay at The Playground Theater for 10 years, but the show is always fresh. The rotating cast of players meet only once before performing a long-form show. This ever-changing mix of personalities, combined with an audience chugging BYOB drinks, makes for an evening of unpredictable hilarity. (3209 N. Halsted St.; Sundays at 9:15 p.m.; tickets are pay-what-you-can) Check Groupon first for more Chicago theater, or take to the stage yourself with acting classes in Chicago. Second City Improv All-Stars photo by Clayton Hauck; TJ & Dave photo by Jerry Schulman; ComedySportz photo courtesy of ComedySportz; Playground Theater photo by Stephanie BassosRead More
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Every year, music-festival juggernaut Lollapalooza caters to the parental crowd with Kidzapalooza, a stage dedicated solely to acts appropriate for children. But with no disrespect to School of Rock or the pop-punk whimsy of bands like Play Date, there are plenty of other artists at Lolla that appeal to all ages without being specifically geared toward kids. Here are five of our favorites. J. Roddy Walston & The Business Friday at 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. | Bud Light Stage If you say his name fast enough, it sounds like J. “Rowdy” Walston, a moniker that would fit this Tennessee rocker to a T. No, you won’t be able to decipher his lyrics, and neither will your children. What will make sense to all ages, however, is the band’s yowling brand of Southern (with a capital “S”) rock, which combines sloppy soloing, backwoods drumming, and a barroom piano to appeal to the reptile in all of us. Lorde Friday at 6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. | Bud Light Stage Pretty much everyone has heard Lorde by this point, so most Lolla attendees have probably made up their minds on whether or not they want to see the teenaged Kiwi. But if you’re a parent who’s still on the fence, we highly recommend taking your little one to her set. Even if her complex observations about youth go over younger kids’ heads, her production definitely won’t. The beats are danceable, infused with a touch of full-bodied hip-hop, and most importantly, chock-full of hooks that transcend generation. Jungle Saturday at 12:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. | Samsung Galaxy Stage Little is known about this London R & B by way of disco act, and that’s part of the fun—past shows have been shrouded in a fog thick enough to obscure the performers’ faces. Such anonymity will be difficult to achieve under Lolla’s midday August sun, which should leave Jungle’s Bee Gees–esque grooves out in the open. We doubt they’ll have the same elaborate, stone-faced choreography featured so prominently in their videos, but parents will dig the throwback sound while kids will most certainly be moved to dance. GROUPLOVE Saturday at 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. | Bud Light Stage In terms of sheer fashion sense, GROUPLOVE might be the biggest spectacle at Lolla. It’s not exactly an organized spectacle—skeleton bodysuits tend to clash with sequins, fedoras, and splatters of dayglo paint—but since when does rock ‘n’ roll have to be organized? It’s hard not to get sucked into the playful chaos, especially when the band keeps the music so catchy. Like co-lead singer Hannah Hooper, you and your kid might even be moved to headbang (not too hard, mind you) and forget that this is indie pop, not heavy metal. The Avett Brothers Sunday at 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. | Samsung Galaxy Stage Most of The Avett Brothers are fathers themselves, resulting in some of the best songs about parenthood this side of Ben Folds’s “Still Fighting It.” The band’s introspective lyrics are sure to resonate with anyone raising kids, if not with the kids themselves. Luckily, the Avetts also know how to keep things fun for younger audiences. It’s not uncommon for them to play out in the crowd, incorporate breakneck bluegrass tempos, or even cover Beyoncé. Photo courtesy of Republic Records Lollapalooza takes over Grant Park August 1–3. Regular and VIP passes are sold out, but you can still get Platinum and VIP packages online. Want to explore more music in the Windy City? Read our guide to the summer’s best outdoor music. And, as always, check Groupon for concerts in Chicago. Photos: Annette Geneva (Lorde); Dan Wilton (Jungle) ; Joseph Llanes (Grouplove). J. Roddy Watson photo courtesy of the artist; The Avett Brothers photo courtesy of Republic Records; Lollapalooza photo courtesy of Ashley Garmon.Read More
The Avengers. Captain America. X-Men. The Amazing Spider-Man. Marvel Comics has been dominating the box office with a slew of summer blockbusters in recent years. So, in the name of anyone feeling burned out on Marvel, we asked Eric Thornton, chief executive operating officer of Chicago Comics, to pick his favorite non-Marvel superheroes.RobotmanPublisher: DC ComicsPowers: Superhuman strength and speed, flight, shape-shiftingBrief history: After he was severely injured in a car accident, Cliff Steele’s brain was inserted into a robotic body. He uses his powers for good as one of the founding members of weirdo superhero team the Doom Patrol.What makes him cool: “He’s just one of the characters that I’ve always loved,” Eric said. “In the DC Universe, everyone’s so clean-cut, and he’s just so cranky.” He also loves that the character frequently “deals with existential problems” due to being a man in a robot’s body.Brainiac 5Publisher: DC ComicsPower: 12th-level intellectBrief history: An alien from the planet Colu, Brainiac 5 is a descendant of Brainiac, one of Superman’s original and most deadly enemies, who chose to atone for his ancestor’s crimes by fighting with the Legion of Super-Heroes.What makes him cool: Unlike some of his more classically good companions, Brainiac 5 is “just this kinda crazy, supersmart asshole who thinks he’s better than everyone else.” But he’s not without his charms. “He’s got a crush on Supergirl … which is adorable.”Dick GraysonPublisher: DC ComicsPowers (or, more appropriately, abilities): peak athlete, master martial artist, acrobat, detectiveBrief history: Most people know Grayson as Batman’s original Robin, but what they might not know is that little Dick grew up to become Nightwing and even took over the cowl of the Dark Knight himself for a time.What makes him cool: For Eric, Grayson stands out among other heroes for his maturity. “He’s just gone through so many iterations—he’s one of the few characters to have really evolved. They’ve actually allowed him to grow up.”The TickPublisher: New England Comics PressPowers: superhuman strength and agility, “drama power” (the power to become stronger as situations become more dramatic)Brief history: The Tick has little to no memory of his past and is known for his overzealous sense of duty, bizarre inspirational speeches, and dim, childlike nature.What makes him cool: “There was a short-lived show on Fox in the late '90s, but everyone should know the Tick! He’s hilarious!” Eric said. And with a battle-cry of “Spoon!” and an odd host of companions such as Batmanuel, Sewer Urchin, and, of course, his moth-suited sidekick Arthur, who’s to argue?Animal ManPublisher: DC ComicsPower: the ability to harness the power of any animal that has ever existedBrief history: Caught in the blast of an alien spacecraft, Buddy Baker gains his phenomenal powers and uses them to fight crime with the Justice League.What makes him cool: “He’s a guy who used to be kind of a joke of a character for like 30 years until Grant Morrison reinvented him,” Eric noted. “He’s a unique superhero with these crazy, dumb powers.”All of these characters can be found at Chicago Comics (3244 N. Clark St.) or anywhere else comics are sold. Check Groupon for great deals on movies in Chicago.Read More
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