Whether you’re a sketch, stand up or improv fan you’ll find plenty to laugh about right here in Lakeview. Chicago is known of course for Second City – the breeding ground for so many world renowned comics but here in our neighborhood we have venues of equal measure. And in a neighborhood with lots of small stages you can often find a surprisingly good show for less than $10! Top that off with several local venues hosting shows for TBS’s “Just for Laughs Chicago ‘12” and you’ll be chuckling all the way home.
Lakeview’s iO Theater was founded in 1981 as the Improv Olympic. The name was relinquished under pressure from International Olympic Committee during Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid and changed to the initials that many performers and regulars already used as the theater’s nickname. iO, located at 3541 N. Clark St., has two stages, both with bars, and specializes in the “long form improvisation” created by the theater’s founders Charna Halpern and Del Close. Like Second City, iO boasts a long list of comedic alumni including Tina Fey, Mike Myers and Adam McKay. iO has shows seven nights a week; prices range from free for student shows to $20 for well known troupes.
A newcomer on the scene, Laugh Factory, opened its doors at 3175 N Broadway just a few months ago. The original Laugh Factory opened in southern California in 1979. Robin Williams, Damon Wayans, Ellen DeGeneres, Andy Kaufman and Bob Hope are just a few of the famous comics that have appeared on their stage. Here in Chicago a lot of local talent entertains audiences with special guests, such as Mike Marino and Kevin Nealon, making week-long appearances. Laugh Factory renovated the former Lakeshore Theater making a fairly large space seem rather intimate. Ticket prices average around $20 – $30 per night and there is a two drink minimum.
One of the cheapest laughs you’ll find in Lakeview is at the non-profit Studio Be, just down the street from the Old Chicago Inn at 3110 N. Sheffield. On Tuesday nights, check out Potential Boyfriends featuring Peter Corey, Pat Ivansek, Nick Johnson, and Joey Lesiak . These guys are just that – guys being quintessential guys, while popping back and forth between sketch comedy and improv. The theater is BYOB so take a bottle of wine if you like. You innkeeper David will be happy to provide you with a wine opener and plastic cups to take along.
If you are staying with us the second week in June be sure and pick up a festival schedule for TBS’s “Just for Laughs Chicago ‘12”. Laugh Factory, iO, Playground Theater and the Vic Theater all are hosting shows during the festival and are all in walking distance of the Inn.
So come visit Lakeview and laugh a little (or a lot)!