Setting up camp in all four theaters at the Stage 773 complex on Belmont, the annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival returns for its 11th edition with a whopping 162 performances by 138 troupes.
Sketchfest came from the brain of Brian Posen, who still produces it. He’s also artistic director of Stage 773, program head at Second City Training Center, and a member of the Reader‘s 2008 pick for best Chicago sketch group, Cupid Players, which will perform on both of the fest’s two weekends (Sat 1/7 and 1/14, 8 PM). Novelty folk duo Gretchen & Regina—described by Reader contributor Brian Costello as offering a “rather silly, charming parody of Lilith Fair fare”—also pull double-weekend duty (Sun 1/8 and 1/15, 4 PM), as do the folks from Gayco Productions (Sat 1/7 and 1/14, 7 PM).
First week highlights include New York-based musical comedy duo Reformed Whores (Fri 1/6-Sat 1/7, 8 PM), playing rustic tunes with unabashedly crude lyrics, Portlanders Sweat (Fri 1/6-Sat 1/7, 9 PM), and eight-year Sketchfest vets the Cool Table (Fri 1/6-Sat 1/7, 10 PM).
Among the local troupes scheduled for the second week are all-Asian-American Stir Friday Night! (Sat 1/14, 7 PM) and all-female Drew’s Tumbler (Sun 1/15, 3 PM). The east coast will be represented by Fuct (Fri 1/13-Sat 1/14, 10 PM) and the west by Heavy Wait (Fri 1/13-Sat 1/14, 9 PM).
The fest also presents Kids, Teens, and Family programming on Sat 1/7, during the 1 and 2 PM slots: six shows by groups with a better-than-usual excuse for catering to the juvenile sense of humor. Some of those groups are even made up of juveniles. Code Red Vines (1 PM) features nine- to 13-year-olds, while S Cubed (2 PM) is a posse of students from York Community High in Elmhurst.