Comedian Esteban Touma
Ecuadorian comedian Esteban Touma visits Second City on Sunday for the World Comedy Expo Credit: Courtesy World Comedy Expo

Looking for some fun? We’ve got you covered for the next seven days, read on!

FRI 3/25 

It’s the tenth annual presentation of Jeezy’s Juke Joint: A Black Burly-Q Revue. Billed as the “only Black burlesque festival in the world,” this variety show celebrates a rich and diverse lineage of Black nightlife performers. In addition to traditional burlesque and modern stripteases, there will be stand-up, drag, and other entertainment that fuses the historic and the contemporary. It’s all hosted by cabaret legend and Jeezy’s Juke Joint founder, Jeez Loueez. Held at the Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park West), there are two opportunities to catch the show: tonight at 7 PM and again at 10:30 PM. If you’re 21 or older, grab tickets ASAP ($25, $20 in advance)—they’re nearly sold out! (MC)

If you need some laughs (and if you didn’t, we’d be worried about you!), the World Comedy Expo has you covered. Today through Sunday, you can check out over 170 comedy artists—stand-up, sketch, and improv—from over 18 countries at venues such as the Annoyance, the Den, Second City, and the Laugh Factory. Tonight, you can see Comedy Dance Chicago (which, as the name implies, uses dance and physical comedy as a key ingredient) at Donny’s Skybox at Second City (230 W. North, 4th floor) at 7 PM; they’re sharing the bill with Subject to Change, a long-form improv troupe from Orlando, Florida. On Saturday at 9 PM, comedian and Expo cofounder and artistic director Saku Yanagawa (from Osaka, Japan) hosts a comedy showcase at Laugh Factory (3175 N. Broadway) that includes several Chicago comedians, as well as Michael Sengazi from Kigali, Rwanda and Allie Pearse (a writer on the sitcom Letterkenny) from Toronto, Canada. Pearse and Yanagawa repeat on Sunday at 9 PM at UP Comedy Club at Second City, along with John Naifa Muyenzi of Kigali, Pedja Bajović of Zagreb, Croatia, and Esteban Touma of Quito, Ecuador. There are also panels and workshops; on Sunday at 1 PM, the Annoyance (851 W. Belmont) hosts a panel on the history of Chicago comedy, moderated by Anne Libera and Kelly Leonard of Second City. On Saturday at 11 AM, the Annoyance also hosts a workshop from longtime Chicago performer Jimmy Carrane on his “art of slow comedy” method. Panels and workshops require preregistration; tickets for all performances ($20) are available online at (No tickets will be sold at the door, but you can purchase via a mobile device immediately ahead of time). All the venues are accessible; see the FAQ page for more information. (KR)

YouTube video
A demo video from Comedy Dance Chicago

Sideshow Theatre Company returns to live performance with a one-night-only staged reading of Drive-In to the End of the World. Preston Choi’s comedy involves the title establishment in a small crumbling town, besieged by Mothman and “a cavalcade of cryptids.” Remy Bumppo artistic director Marti Lyons directs. (Sideshow will mount a full production of Brynne Frauenhoffer’s PRO-AM, staged by artistic director Regina Victor, in August.) The reading takes place tonight at 7:30 PM at Victory Gardens Theater (2433 N. Lincoln); tickets are pay what you can ($6.22-$39.35, including service charges) at (KR)

SAT 3/26

Looking for a kid-friendly art activity today? Smart Museum of Art (5550 S. Greenwood) hosts Family Day: Kid-You-Topia!, an interactive afternoon of hands-on projects geared for children ages 4-12, with all art-making supplies provided for free. Artist Laura Shaeffer will be on hand to lead children and their adult guardians as they create 3D paintings and other items inspired by the current exhibition on view, “Bob Thompson: This House is Mine,” as well as the 1970s sculptures and public work of Hyde Park resident Cosmo Campoli. Family Day is presented as part of a series of events today and tonight that celebrate the legacy of Campoli, who was associated with the Chicago Imagists and passed away in 1997. The Family Day event happens today from 1-4 PM. It’s free, but pre-registration is requested. (SCJ)

Fulton Street Collective has been continually supporting jazz musicians, visual artists, and other community creatives since 2002 with their membership and educational programs and live event programming (with most events in the last few years offered both to a smaller in-person audience as well as a broader group of online watchers as the Collective committed to live streaming). Tonight’s Unity Night fundraiser at the Collective’s space (1821 W. Hubbard, Suite 307) celebrates the people and projects that have kept Fulton Street alive and well while banking some money to support new efforts such as an online marketplace for local artists and the development of more educational programs. There’s a $60 entry fee tonight, which includes food, beverages, and live music from Nick Mazzarella’s jazz quartet, plus a live art auction. Pre-buy tickets at Eventbrite, and go to the Collective’s Facebook page for more information. (SCJ)

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Scenes from inside Fulton Street Collective’s West Town digs

Visceral Dance Chicago opens their brand-new dance center (3121 N. Rockwell) with a two-weekend celebration, SpringNine. The program includes two works by Visceral artistic director Nick Pupillo (Mad Skin and Awake) along with Madre by Mike Tyus and Ruff Celts by Marguerite Donlon. This weekend’s performances include tonight at 8 PM and tomorrow at 3 PM; you can catch the program next week from Thursday-Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets are $25-$60 at (KR)

SUN 3/27 

Today is World Theatre Day, sponsored by the International Theatre Institute, and in addition to checking out local live performances (see current reviews from our critics here), you can peruse an online collection of messages from over 30 emerging artists from around the globe in honor of the celebration’s 60th anniversary, along with a message from opera and theater director Peter Sellars. The site also serves as a repository of videos offering a taste of theater from international companies, which makes celebrating at home feel like a trip around the world. (KR)

March is going out like a lion this season (and that’s nothing new for Chicago weather—at least it’s not predicted to snow again this spring . . . we think!) so the water temperature in Lake Michigan is still no tropical dream. Think mid 30s fahrenheit, which is a pretty chilly prospect for even the bravest of swimmers. Fortunately, the supporters of charities like Alive Rescue are happy to push past the cold in order to raise money for homeless pets, and today’s Shelter Shiver marks the 13th year that Alive Rescue’s friends have joined up at the lakefront to jump in and pledge their love for the animals. Pre-registration is requested for those who’d like to join in (and you’re expected to gather some donations in honor of your crazy ass getting in the water). The plunge happens today at 10 AM at North Avenue Beach, with an after party scheduled for 11 AM-1 PM at Off Color Brewing (1460 N. Kingsbury). The Off Color party is restricted to plunge participants and one guest of their choice only, so sign up if you’d like to jump for the cause. (SCJ)

If you missed Gossip Wolf this week, here’s your reminder. Today from 2-10 PM, the folks at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar are teaming up with their sister restaurant Kimski (960 W 31st St.) to host a birthday party for Howard Bailey, a veteran of the restaurant and nightclub business who turned 50 on Friday March 25. As resident wolves J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil explain: “Bailey got his start in the late 1980s working the door at Lakeview hotspot Medusa’s; from the 90s into the 2000s, he ran Wicker Park record shop Beat Parlor and Goose Island nightclub Slick’s Lounge; in the 2010s he opened Englewood restaurant Dream Cafe & Grille. Sunday’s party doubles as a Slick’s Lounge pop-up, selling favorite dishes from the long-gone nightclub’s menu. The music lineup is top-notch too, with DJ sets by Tyree Cooper, Tone B. Nimble, Aryun Dismuke, and Lee Farmer.” (MC)

MON 3/28

It’s going to be a first-come, first-served event tonight for most visitors to the Reader’s Monday Night Foodball pop-up at the Kedzie Inn (4100 N. Kedzie), as pre-orders of “gooey Desi-cheesesteak” from Dhuann BBQ Company and items like French silk pie and pecan chocolate chip cookies from Maa Maa Dei are now sold out. Limited amounts of food will be available for walk-ins, from 5-9 PM. You can get more information about the menu and the chefs as well as future Foodballs from Reader senior writer Mike Sula here. (SCJ)

One of the consistently best ways to catch emerging musical talent in the city is free Mondays at the Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western). Tonight ambient dream-pop duo Kiwicha headline. They’re joined by Louisville-based indie rocker Ted Tyro and local band Patter. The show kicks off at 8:30 PM, and it’s open to those 21 and up. Proof of vaccination is required. For more on upcoming free Monday lineups, check out the Bottle’s website. (MC)

Tonight’s the last chance to check out the Three Stooges: Knucklehead Marathon, a weekend series hosted at Logan Theatre (2646 N. Milwaukee) that puts the spotlight on the classic trio of Moe, Larry, and Curly as they make their way through the tumultuous world of the 1930s while consistently managing head trauma. (“Oh, a wise guy, eh?”) This 90 minute program features four M/L/C shorts (much to the relief of any of you who are wary of an accidental Joe DeRita sighting). The event starts at 11:10 PM and advance tickets are available here. (SCJ)

TUE 3/29

Writer and activist Sarah Schulman will be in conversation this afternoon as part of the Voices series curated by Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois Chicago. Schulman will talk with Dr. Karyn Sandlos (who heads up the BFA in Art Education program at UIC) about the newly published Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, NY 1987-1993, an exploration of the activist group that required Schulman to interview over 200 participants. Perhaps best known for her books Conflict is Not Abuse and People in Trouble (which was famously appropriated for RENT), Schulman has turned her attention to organizing during the AIDS crisis. Drawing on her time as a member, Schulman presents one of the most comprehensive histories of the era—a document rich with successes and failures that can benefit generations of activists to come. This online program starts at noon and is free to watch, with registration required. (MC)

Rogers Park’s PO Box Collective hosts a poster making class followed by a memorial program tonight in honor of Anthony Alvarez (age 22), Travon Chadwell (age 18), and Adam Toledo (age 13), who were all slain by the Chicago Police Department at the end of March 2021 in three separate incidents. Community members are invited to join together at the Collective’s space (6900 N. Glenwood) at 3:30 PM to make posters, or just stop in at 6:30 PM for a community-led memorial service for the three young men. More information is available at PO Box Collective’s Facebook page. (SCJ)

Head down to the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State) tonight to catch the 7:45 PM screening of Atlantis. It’s presented as part of the center’s tribute to Ukrainian cinema, which runs through Thu 4/7. Set in 2025, the dystopian sci-fi Atlantis imagines eastern Ukraine as a desert unfit for habitation where water is brought in by trucks and the state is building a wall to separate inhabitants from the rest of the world. Here, ex-soldier Sergiy falls for a woman named Katya, and together they struggle to find a sense of normalcy where love can exist. Tickets for the screening are $12, and a portion of the proceeds goes to Voices of Children, a Ukrainian-based non profit which provides art therapy and resources to young people in Ukraine. For a complete list of festival programming, click here. (MC)

WED 3/30

At noon today, Chicago Methodist Senior Services (CMSS) hosts a free online screening of the documentary I Remember Better When I Paint, which looks at how arts therapy improves coping with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related memory loss. Afterward, there will be a roundtable discussion moderated by Constance Brasher, the director of memory care program development at CMSS, featuring Hilgos Foundation founder and I Remember Better When I Paint codirector Berna Huebner, Institute for Therapy Through the Arts board member Judy Holstein, neurologist Dr. Daniel C. Potts, and CMSS memory care corporate director Jeanne Heid-Grubman. This is a great opportunity to learn about holistic treatment options and ask questions about elder care. Register here. (MC)

The Adler Planetarium is open late on Wednesday nights, and it’s a good time to catch up on their award-winning sky shows and get to know the night space above Chicago. And every Wednesday free entry is offered to the Planetarium for Illinois residents who provide proof of residency. Additional fees may apply for some of the exhibits and shows. Check out all the details and buy advance admission at the Planetarium’s website, and consider stopping by tonight anytime from 4-10 PM. (SCJ)

THU 3/31

Fannie Lou Hamer was an outspoken and fiery twentieth century advocate in the both the civil rights and women’s rights movements. A new documentary, Fannie Lou Hamer’s America, collects footage from her public speeches and interviews to create an intimate portrait of the woman who started as a Mississippi sharecropper and grew up to be a human rights leader of her time. The film was produced by Hamer’s grand niece, Monica Land, who will appear along with director Joy Davenport for a Q&A after the screening. Illinois NOW is hosting this online event, which is technically scheduled for tonight at 7 PM, but viewers will be able to watch the documentary anytime before tonight’s free event with the watch page and passcode they’ll receive after completing registration. (SCJ)

The latest Gossip Wolf column told us about a benefit concert happening tonight at the Burlington (3425 W. Fullerton) to assist Kacie Peters and Erik Stanley, an ex-Chicagoan couple who have both unfortunately been diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Stanley played bass for the band Swearwords during his time living in Chicago, and the band pays tribute to Stanley, Peters, and their family tonight by headlining a show which also features Hlday Magik, Hoarse Heckler, and Fern Teal. The show starts at 8 PM, and tickets are $10 at the door for those 21 and over. If you can’t make it in person, you can also support the couple and their son by visiting their GoFundMe. (SCJ)

Chicago has its share of comedians that are considered local gems, but few support their fellow comedians like Taneshia “Just Nesh” Rice. She’s been featured on Comedy Central and Def Comedy Jam, and has been the opening act for Cedric the Entertainer, Paul Mooney, Dick Gregory, and Mike Epps, but she manages to find time to host showcases and weekly nights that attract the best of her fellow stand ups. Tonight you can see Just Nesh as she hosts Laugh Therapy Thursdays, a weekly show usually with two features hosted at Q’s Lounge and Bar in the Ashburn neighborhood (8406 S. Kedzie). There’s a $10 cover, and patrons must be 21 and over to enjoy the full service bar and extensive patio. Check out Q’s Facebook page for more information. (SCJ)