Cook County Social Club
Cook County Social Club Credit: Ryan Ward Thompson

Framed as something of an ode to the city’s fabled improv comedy scene (from which SNL just plucked three more performers, Tim Robinson, Aidy Bryant, and Cecily Strong), the Four-star Comedy Fest makes its debut Saturday at the east end of Navy Pier, with an afternoon of workshops, an evening of performances, and a live podcast taping for good measure. Organized by Chicago School of Comedy cofounders Ben Capraro and Jimmy Carrane, the festival offers 12 free—I repeat, free—workshops (50 minutes each, 1-4 PM) led by teachers from well-known institutions like Annoyance Theatre, ComedySportz, and iO. The latter is offering a class on long-form improv called “Yes, and . . . and More!” And the Actors Training Center is doing three “Improv for Kids/Teens” sessions geared for third graders on up.

At 5 PM, Carrane hosts a live—and, yes, free—taping of his podcast, Improv Nerd, featuring Charna Halpern, who started iO in 1981 with ascended improv master Del Close. Then SNL alum Tim Kazurinsky emcees a four-hour improv extravaganza in the Pier’s Grand Ballroom. The performance schedule includes sets by Baby Wants Candy (7 PM), Cook County Social Club (8 PM), long-form Elizabethans the Improvised Shakespeare Company (9 PM), and crafty Uncle’s Brother (10 PM), which boasts the festival’s marquee name, Tim Meadows. Expect a curveball or six as the night barrels forward.