Literally hundreds of stage productions across Chicago beckon theater fans this winter. Same with bars. But if you’re juggling overdue holiday expenses and next month’s rent, who’s got money for a show and drinks? You do!
We’ve found seven options for a great night of theater and drinking with a low (or non-existent) price tag. The best part? You don’t have to worry about blowing your rent check on a bar tab because they’re all BYOB.
The City Life Supplement
Bootstraps Comedy Theater introduces its new series, a Chicago-centric satire of a satire—the long-running National Public Radio program “A Prairie Home Companion”—which is recorded for podcast. The debut show’s agenda features sketches, songs and stories with subjects ranging from overwhelmed tourists to a hipster soap opera.
Go: 8:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at Transistor Chicago, 3819 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: Pay what you can; citylifesupplement.org
Ever wonder if performing comedy is as much fun as it looks? Find out at this interactive show, which starts out with a 30-minute workshop during which you learn the basics of an improv “form”—essentially, a comedy structure in which to improvise. Then, jump onstage with the cast if you like and join in on creating an improv scene.
Go: 10 p.m. Thursday at The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted St.
Tickets: $5; 773-871-3793; the-playground.com
Double your fun with a stop at this drop-in-drop-out literary salon where guest writers read new and published work every half-hour, with breaks in between for socializing. Author Brendan Detzner (“Scarce Resources”) hosts the monthly series at his courtyard gallery in conjunction with Chicago Arts District’s 2nd Friday art walk.
Go: 7-10 p.m. Friday at Detzner Studio, 1743 S. Halsted St.
Tickets: Free; 773-397-5979; brendandetzner.com
Chemically Imbalanced Theater house team 1941 kicks off a new show tonight featuring improv comedy fueled by audience suggestions. A rotating roster of acts opens—this week, it’s local musician Heather Perry plus an original radio play by Andrew Tisher, a cast member from teams at iO and Annoyance.
Go: 8 p.m. Wednesdays at Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1420 W. Irving Park Rd.
Tickets: $5; 773-865-7731; cicomedy.com
Oracle Productions continues its tradition of public access theater—supported by sponsors so it’s free for you—with this avant-garde dark comedy penned by British playwright April De Angelis—in verse, no less—about the adventures of a Victorian-era widow, her daughter and a mysterious peasant woman on their journey to an iron foundry that the widow inherited from her husband.
Go: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday; 8 p.m. Monday through Feb. 11 at Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway
Tickets: Free; 773-244-2980; oracletheatre.org
Jersey Shore the Musical
Comedy troupe 4 Days Late returns from a holiday hiatus this Friday with their hit parody—it’s been extended twice already—of the trials and tribulations of those perpetually tanned Guidos and Gaieties.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield Ave.
Tickets: $22; 773-248-5900; studio-be.org
Corn Productions presents Sophomore Album
Get ready for a one-two comedy punch as ensemble Sophomore Album—the Season 14 winners of Corn Productions’ The Original Improv Gladiators contest—performs a high-energy set that changes each week to include long form improv, sketch comedy, game shows, drinking games and improv team battles. The troupe is joined by special guests, including Season 14 runner-up team Vegetable Demon.
Go: 11 p.m. Fridays, Jan. 20-Feb. 10 at The Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $10; 773-650-1331; cornservatory.org
Julia Borcherts is a RedEye special contributor.