Theater Thursday: ComedySportz vs. Theatahh

 

Theater Thursday – October 14th

 

Comedy Sportz vs. Theatahh

at The Comedy Sportz Theatre, 929 W. Belmont (map)

comedysportz2ComedySportz vs Theatahh is a great event running the entire month of October.  Every Thursday, guest players from local ensemble theaters will join a team in the 8 p.m. ComedySportz shows. For the event on October 14 there will be a very special guest.  One of the long-time performers at Blue Man Group!   Join ComedySportz at 7 p.m. for a reception with drink specials and, in honor of having a Blue Man (albeit out of make-up) in the house, free Twinkies and Cap’n Crunch!

Event begins at 7 p.m.  Show begins at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $22

For reservations call 773.549.8080 and mention code "Theater Thursdays."

   
   

REVIEW: ComedySportz!

       

Take out normal. Put in family-friendly wacky

        

ComedySportz bows

   
The Comedy Sportz Theatre presents
  
ComedySportz!
   
at The Comedy Sportz Theatre
929 W. Belmont Ave. (map
Open Run  |  tickets: $21  |  more info

Reviewed by Oliver Sava

When ComedySportz begins, the improv competitors run throughout the theater, tossing high-fives to the audience as red and blue lights flash erratically and Darude’s “Sandstorm” blares over the speakers. If that doesn’t sound appealing, then ComedySportz is not for you. Audience participation, flashing lights, and dance music are the formula for this “interactive improv experience,” and are repeated throughout the evening as a reminder that yes, you are having fun. The experience appears to be aimed at the tourist and birthday party crowd with its over-the-top tech and family friendly material, but leaves something to be desired when it comes to real laughs. (fyi: Though not their mainstage show, Comedy Sportz also offers adult-humored late-night shows as well)

ComedySportz is a short-form improv competition between two teams, meaning the actors play games dictated by audience suggestions with points gained by audience applause. It’s basically Who’s Line Is It Anyway? but whereas Who’s Line was presented in half hour segments, the two hour long ComedySportz doesn’t have enough substance or momentum to stay captivating.

I applaud ComedySportz for trying to do family friendly improv, but a rhyming game to the tune of “Da Doo Ron Ron” and a person’s day reenacted as a Shakespeare play aren’t very funny. The humor stays inoffensive by being simple, and it feels like the actors have done the games so many times that the spontaneity of the improv experience has begun to wear off. After a while it becomes the Mad Libs style of improv, where something wacky is inserted for something normal and magically comedy is born, and that gets old very quickly.

The points mean nothing, but the show banks on the illusion of competition to keep the momentum going. The second half was saved by a timed game where everyday tasks were reenacted with absurd substitutions and then guessed (ex. Skiing down a pencil with mashed potato skis and Lego goggles), and while the recreations were standard charades material, the added time limit made the actual challenge a nail biter. The problem is that it still isn’t funny, but they are able to hide behind the thrill of competition.

While the actual games are lacking, the enthusiasm of the actors helps elevate the experience. The seven people on stage (3 on each team, 1 referee) never drop their energy and have great chemistry with one another. The most laughs of the night came from the other players’ criticism of the Red Team’s Kate Cohen for not knowing what the Apostles are, showing that some potentially offensive humor might not be such a bad thing. That kind of freedom is what makes improv exciting, and ComedySportz needs to have games that allow the actors full use of their imaginations if they want to create a worthwhile experience.

   
   
Rating: ★★
   
   

Latest ComedySportz News

FYI: Let ComedySportz host your Bachelor/ette Party today – with the option of clean fun or offensive hilarity. 

   
   

30-Hour Improv Marathon to benefit Child Literacy program

Playground Theater - 30-hour Improv marathon

The Playground Improv Marathon:

30 Hours of Comedy Benefiting Child Literacy

 

“9 Actors. 30 Hours. No Script. No Sleep. No Sanity.”

When: 6 p.m. Friday, September 10 – Midnight Saturday, September 11
Where: The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted St.
Cost: $5-$10 per hour-long show, $25 for a full 30-hour pass
Contact: Dave Maher (daphima@gmail.com, 773-706-5890)

On September 10-11 at The Playground Theater, local improv troupe K.C. Redheart will perform 30 straight hours of comedy as part of the inaugural Playground Improv Marathon, a charity event benefiting the Illinois Coalition of Reach Out and Read and the Playground Theater.

The nine members of K.C. Redheart will test their wits, endurance, and sanity as the core group of “Marathoners,” going without sleep while performing for the Marathon’s entire 30 hours. Additionally, each hour will mark the start of a new show, as the Marathoners welcome guests from around the city to improvise with them, including performers from Second City, ComedySportz, the Annoyance Theatre, iO, and K.C. Redheart’s home, the Playground Theater.

With the help of so many different performers, the Playground Improv Marathon will showcase the diversity and vitality of Chicago’s improv scene. There will be short-form games a la “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” experimental and narrative long-form shows, family-friendly shows during the day, and anything-goes sets during the late-night hours. As an added bonus, the audience will witness the Marathoners’ transformation from well-adjusted adults to sleep-deprived comedy nutjobs by the end of it all. And most importantly, all of the proceeds go to a great cause.

The Playground Improv Marathon begins Friday evening, September 10, at 6 p.m. and ends Saturday night, September 11, at midnight. Tickets are available at the door, and prices are as follows: $5 for matinee shows, $10 for prime-time shows, and $25 for passes to the entire Marathon. Tickets to the Marathon include entry in a raffle to win prizes donated by local businesses, with drawings held every hour. Extra raffle tickets will be available for purchase.

kcredheart1 - marathon

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REVIEW: Cougars! The Musical

She is cougar, hear her roar!

 

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Fireworx Productions presents
 
Cougars! The Musical
 
by Gillian Bellinger and Chuck Malone
directed by
Corey Rittmaster
at
The Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
through May 22nd  |  tickets: $15  more info   

reviewed by Paige Listerud

Gillian Bellinger and Chuck Malone both have long, august (if that is the word) careers in comedy. Their collaboration on their latest creation, Cougars! The Musical has bourn the strangest, wildest, funniest fruit. By all indications, Cougar-fever has hit the Chicago comedy scene with a vengeance. Who needs critical accolades when your second night’s performance is packed to the rafters?

aaa-cougarsposter Three elderly gal pals, Kate (Gillian Bellinger), Lana (Rebecca Montalvo), and Bette (Madeline Wager) are on the prowl for fresh young meat. They even rename their favorite young bartender Meat (Justin Schumann), even though his real name is Kevin. (Hey, it’s good for the meat to know their place.) Meanwhile, Bette’s ex-husband, Frank (Brian Finley), who she divorced 40 years ago over his trysts with a geisha in Nam, still carries a torch for Bette and wants her forgiveness. Can Frank save Bette from Michael (Paul Barrett Ford), Bette’s hot, new, young beau, who has a dark and sinister agenda?

Director Corey Rittmaster’s remarks in the program say it all about Bellinger’s book and lyrics: “ . . . never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that out of that sweet, fresh-faced Texas girl’s imagination would come this incredible homage to depravity and vulgarity.” What must also be acknowledged is the sophistication of Malone’s compositions for this raucous, in-your-face farce. While most comedy reviews content themselves with slap-dash and simple-minded arrangements for tunes, Cougars’ songs sound like they come from, well, a composer. Plus, choreography for the smaller tunes seems on the usual sloppy side of schlock comedy, while in bigger numbers the whole cast pulls together with sharper, more impressive performances.

Here’s where the picky theater reviewer comes in with her annoying critique – but Bellinger and Malone have brought it on themselves. By setting the bar higher in writing and composition, they’ve introduced greater demands upon the cast than might usually be expected from lesser fare. I have no idea how much time was taken in rehearsal, but if any remount of Cougars! The Musical is planned for the future—and why not—then greater care should be taken in more accurate, fully formed characterizations for each role. There’s still more juice to be squeezed from this juicy fruit and there’s no reason to think the current cast couldn’t take it all the way.

Cougars the Musical Cougars the Musical Cougars the Musical

Finally, the slow start to the show on its second night was noticeable—and low energy is always death to comedy review. Ford, as the swindler Michael, picked up the pace considerably with his rocked-out, rotten plans for Bette–“Off That Cougar Whore.” From there, the rest of the cast picked up and took flight. In particular, the cast brought down the house with Frank and Michael’s testosterone sparing match, “Dick to Dick.” Now top that off with acting that echoes the meticulous inflections with the script that Alaina Hoffman shows as Jennifer, Bette’s daughter, and you’ve got sex-crazed comedy that practically passes for ART. OMG! That could be a sign of the Apocalypse—a happy, joyful, cougar-y sign!

 
Rating: ★★★
 

Cougars! The Musical performs every Saturday, April 3rd-May 22nd (Saturday April 17th moved to Friday April 16th)

 

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Show openings and closings this week

chicago

show openings

All My Sons TimeLine Theatre

The Darkest Pit Prop Thtr

Texas Sheen Chemically Imbalanced Theater

The Thin Man City Lit Theater

Under Milk Wood Caffeine Theatre

 

chicagoatnight

show closings

Aladdin Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

The Arabian Nights Lookingglass Theatre (our review)

Boys Life Hangar 9 Theatre

Charlotte’s Web Theatre-Hikes

Deal, New Deal Greenhouse Theater Center

Draft Gorilla Tango Theatre

Dual Duel ComedySportz

Frankenmatt The Second City etc

Idiot Tango Annoyance Theatre

Improv Children of the Corn 2 Cornservatory

Improv Open Mic ComedySportz

Lies & Liars Theatre Seven of Chicago (our review)

Misanthrope, or the Impossible Lovers Vintage Theater Collective

My Fair Lady Light Opera Works (our review)

The People in Your Neighborhood ComedySportz

Six Degrees of Separation Eclipse Theatre (our review)

Yellow Gorilla Tango Theatre

Opening and Closing this week

chicago-withboat

show openings

All My Sons TimeLine Theatre

The Darkest Pit Prop Thtr

Texas Sheen Chemically Imbalanced Theater

The Thin Man City Lit Theater

Under Milkwood Caffeine Theatre

 

distant-chicago-skyline

show closings

Aladdin Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

The Arabian Nights Lookingglass Theatre (read our review)

Boys Life Hangar 9 Theatre

Charlotte’s Web Theatre-Hikes

Deal, New Deal Greenhouse Theater Center

Draft Gorilla Tango Theatre

Dual Duel ComedySportz

Frankenmatt The Second City etc

Idiot Tango Annoyance Theatre

Improv Children of the Corn 2 Cornservatory

Improv Open Mic ComedySportz

Lies & Liars Theatre Seven of Chicago (read our review)

Misanthrope, or the Impossible Lovers Vintage Theater Collective

My Fair Lady Light Opera Works (read our review)

The People in Your Neighborhood ComedySportz

Six Degrees of Separation Eclipse Theatre (read our review)

Yellow Gorilla Tango Theatre

Opening and Closing this week

chicago_skyline1

show openings

The Adventures of Nervous Boy Gorilla Tango Theatre

Diva! Diva! Divas!Northwestern University Theater

Jinx Appetite Theatre

The Siren Song of Stephan Jay Gould Gorilla Tango Theatre

Juno and the Paycock The Artistic Home

Savage/Love The Viaduct Theater

A Walk in the Woods Redtwist Theatre

 

Chicago_skyline

show closings

The 9/11 Report La Red Music Theatre

Battleprov ComedySportz 

The Bucktown Stand-Up Show Down Gorilla Tango Theatre

Dead Wrong The Factory Theater

Get Comfortable, a Night of Shorts Gorilla Tango Theatre

Girls vs. Boys American Music Theatre Project and The House Theatre of Chicago

The Great American Nudie Spectacular! Theatre Building Chicago

The Hollow Lands Steep Theatre

Never the Sinner Project 891 Theatre

Scientology! The Unauthorized Musical Annoyance Theatre

Sodomites!!! A Musical of Biblical Proportions Annoyance Theatre

Somewhere in Texas Dream Theatre

Steel Mags Chicago Center for the Performing Arts

Storybox Piven Theatre

Two Spoons Bailiwick Repertory

Walker and Dunn Gorilla Tango Theatre

White Rainbows Gorilla Tango Theatre