• Get up-close-and-personal with Chicago’s legendary comedy scene
• Meet the future stars of improv (and perhaps even SNL)
• Watch a Shakespearean-style drama unfold entirely from scratch
Chicago has long been known for its fertile comedy scene, not least for its improv troupes—chief among them the legendary iO Theater, whose alumni include Mike Myers, Seth Meyers, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. Founded in the early 1980s by Charna Halpern and renowned improv guru Del Close, the iO (the name stands for “ImprovOlympic”) moved in 2014 to much larger digs in a converted warehouse space in Lincoln Park’s Clybourn Corridor. The iO’s Improvised Shakespeareshow is a cult sensation: The cast creates an impromptu Elizabethan drama—in iambic pentameter, no less—riffing off a suggestion from the audience; performances typically happen Thursdays and Fridays. Another great offering is The Scene, in which the troupe starts with a random word (say, karate) and develops a fully improvised story in multiple scenes, with each player taking turns directing the action. Cast members gather in the bar after the show, so buy them a drink and say hello.
The iO Theater is a 10-minute cab ride from the Conrad Chicago, on Kingsbury Street near Blackhawk Street. The Conrad concierge can book tickets in advance or (often) the day of the performance; check the iO website for the current schedule. Note that most shows contain adult language and are not necessarily appropriate for kids.
iO THEATER: 1501 N. Kingsbury St.; 312-929-2401; ioimprov.com