Mike Lane, Nunzio Randazzo and Amos Vernon of Boat
Mike Lane, Nunzio Randazzo and Amos Vernon of Boat Credit: Michael Courier

Born in 2002, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival celebrates its 13th birthday this winter with a marathon bar—or possibly bat—mitzvah party featuring 150 sketch troupes. Ten thousand guests are expected at Sketchfest, which unfolds over two long weekends, January 9 through 19.

Among the relatives flying in from out of town are Brooklyn’s Boat (Fri-Sat 1/10-1/11, 9 PM), whose dry, smart wit references sources from Chekhov to The Usual Suspects, and Fuct (Fri-Sat, 1/17-1/18, 10 PM), also from New York but gravitating more toward routines about shooting babies and drinking spit. In from LA are Siblings of Doctors (Sat 1/18, 7 and 9 PM), whose members—Ranjit Souri, Rasika Mathur, and Danny Pudi of NBC’s Community—are veterans of the Asian-centric Chicago troupe Stir-Friday Night (Sat 1/11, 7 PM). The trio play amusingly on Indian-American cultural dissonance, rapping, for instance, about how to tie a sari. Foil Arms and Hog (Fri-Sat 1/17-1/18, 9 PM) are coming all the way from Dublin to show us their very funny explorations of everyday surreality.

Lots of participants will be familiar to anyone who’s spent time going to Chicago clubs—or to earlier incarnations of Sketchfest, for that matter. That the Cupid Players (Sat 1/11 and 1/18, 8 PM) will be on hand is a foregone conclusion inasmuch as the musical sketch ensemble is led by Brian Posen, whose Stage 773 presents Sketchfest itself. Nobody has a better right to dance at this bar mitzvah. Other longtime friends of the family: all-woman companies Virgin Daiquiri (Sat 1/11, 9 PM), Just the Tip (Sat 1/18, 6 PM), Feminine Gentlemen (Fri 1/17, 8 PM), and Off Off Broadzway (Sat 1/18, 11 PM); LGBT-friendly GayCo (Fri 1/17, 8 PM); and Latino-amigable Salsation Theatre Company (Sat 1/18, 6 PM). The duos Urlakis and Cusick (Sat 1/18, 8 PM), Jablonski! (Sat 1/11, 5 PM), and Kerpatty (Fri 1/10, 8 PM) are also well known in these parts. The list goes on and on and extends to collegians and teens and a bunch called Hey Look a Pig! (Sun 1/19, 2 PM), who constitute the “sketch club” at York High School in Elmhurst.