Who says you need to be an actor to hit the stage?
Of course, it’s Chicago’s world-class theatrical talent that makes our city a cultural destination. But our storied history in improv has led to a bunch of entertaining shows and interactive comedies that thrive on audience participation.
You can find all types of sketch shows, improv shows and stand-up showcases at various locations any night of the week, and sometimes, the most fun productions are the ones where you can be part of it. Here are our picks for the 5 best interactive comedy shows in Chicago:
Want to go to a Cirque du Soleil show but don’t want to spring for the high-priced tickets? Check out this “underground” circus located in the Fulton River District. You’ll be awed and amazed by aerialists, acrobatics, jugglers, clowns and a very funny emcee. Shows are on the first Saturday of every month with a 7 p.m. family-friendly show and a 10 p.m. adult show. The Aloft Loft, 2041 W. Carroll Ave., Chicago , 773-507-2604
Photo: Michelle Bates
Normally, musicals take years to write. But in this production, you’ll see an original musical come to life before your eyes. The show begins by asking the audience for a suggestion of a title, and from there, the cast creates a never-before-seen musical with completely improvised songs. Since it began, the cast has featured big-name performers such as Rachel Dratch, Seth Meyers and Jack McBrayer. Every Friday at 10:30 p.m. Apollo Theater , 2540 N. Lincoln Ave. , Chicago, 773-935-6100
This show has been running for more than two-and-a-half years, and for good reason. It’s just so much darn fun! Every Friday night, you’ll see sexy ladies in skimpy costumes performing classic burlesque routines, interspersed with hilarious comedians, music, magic acts, juggling and more, while the show’s host playfully insults and harasses the audience members. Best of all, no two shows are ever the same. Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-404-7336
Photo: Trevor Kelley
Shakespeare gets royally funny in this laugh-out-loud show. These impressive performers use an audience suggestion to create a fully improvised Shakespearean-style play using Elizabethan English. Although each show is different, you can always expect swordfights, star-crossed lovers, kings, queens, rhyming couplets, and, of course, non-stop laughs! Every Friday at 8 and 10:30 p.m. iO Chicago , 3541 N. Clark St., Chicago, 773-880-0199
Photo: Ari Scott
In this literary fight club, a pair of writers are given opposing topics—fast vs. slow, birth vs. death, cat vs. dog, etc.—and each has 7 minutes to explain why his or her side is better. Then the audience determines the winner of the battle based on applause and cheers. It’s like a live version of This American Life, only funnier. Plays the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. (or the first Monday of the month at SPACE in Evanston). The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago, 773-227-4433
Photo: Evan Hanover