Chicago has an illustrious sketch comedy tradition. Everyone knows about the Second City and its prestigious alumni, but the art is performed all over Chicago—from storefront theaters to DIY shows to YouTube channels. Each year, Stage 773 celebrates scripted comedy with Chicago SketchFest. From January 11 to 21, over 180 sketch teams take over the Lakeview theater's four stages, averaging out to 20 shows per night, with about 11,000 patrons each year. Now in its 16th year, SketchFest is a bright light in the dead of Chicago winters; it’s as good a reason as any to brave the January cold. Tickets are $15 per show, while all-festival passes are $250, weekend passes are $125, and nightly passes range from $35 to $50.
Need help deciding who to see? Here's who we can't wait to check out at SketchFest 2018.
Recommended: The best comedy shows to see in January in Chicago
5 acts to see at Chicago SketchFest 2018
The Gayme Show
Matt Rogers and Dave Mizzoni return to Chicago SketchFest (last year they performed with musical comedy group Pop Roulette) with another hour of high-energy hilarity. Gay Me Show! combines trivia and games to find out which straight audience member is honorarily "GAY AS FUCK!" Which, of course, is a good thing.
Jan 19, 20 at 9pm
Hot Thespian Action
Hailing from Winnipeg, Hot Thespian Action is a friendly reminder that not all Canadians are polite and buttoned-up. The group has been nominated for three Canadian Comedy Awards, including "Best Sketch Comedy Troupe in Canada." The foursome is a heavily physical group—and often undressed, too.
Jan 12, 13 at 8pm
ThatShitRay Presents: Rachel Joravsky Is A Thirsty White Ally
New York-based comic Rachel Joravsky dissects her white privilege and allyship through sketch and stand-up in this hour-long show featuring Rachel Pegram. Joravsky takes on "woke" white culture, ironically congratulating her own social awareness.
Jan 19, 20 at 8pm
Rehner & Nixon
They may just be a two-person group, but Mollie Rehner and Katie Nixon fill the stage with their huge character choices and hysterical original songs. Catch the local group's fearless comedy at this late-night engagement.
Jan 12 at 10pm
American Candy says everything you don't want to say out loud—in the best way possible. The sharp, Brooklyn-based group makes social commentary through character-driven (sometimes) musical comedy.
Jan 19, 20 at 10pm