OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Stage 773's 13th Annual Sketch Comedy Fest Unfolds with Funny this Weekend

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-01-18T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Stage 773's 13th Annual Sketch Comedy Fest Unfolds with Funny this WeekendBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Several Southside Chicago and Indiana residents perform this weekend at Stage 773's 13th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival.

After what I'm told was a record-breaking year for applications, 150 troupes were selected, involving 1,000 artists performing more than 170 shows in eight days. This year's funny stretch of sketches began Jan. 9 and concludes tomorrow, Sunday, Jan. 19.

Over the past 13 years, The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival has garnered international attention, attracting over 10,000 performers and audiences annually from around the world.

Of the 150 troupes performing, the sketch comedians featured from our area include: Whiting resident Di Billick of the work "Prostitute Tears" and Worth, Ill. resident Ed Toolis also in the stage spotlight and Homewood resident Quenna Lene of "Minority Report."

Highlights of this weekend include Siblings of Doctors based in Los Angeles featuring Danny Pudi from "Community," the return of festival favorites FUCT from New York, Boat of New York City and Kerpatty of Chicago, as well as two local Chicago groups who have been a part of the festival for all 13 years: The Cupid Players and Stir Friday Night. Some new groups from around the world this year include Foil Arms & Hog based in Dublin, Echo Sunyata Sibley of Italy and Fratwurst of Toronto.

The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival has garnered international attention, attracting more than 10,000 performers and audiences annually from around the world.

The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival debuted in January 2002, with 33 local Chicago Sketch Comedy groups gathering together to perform their craft. The event was met with overwhelming success, and has now grown to the largest sketch comedy festival in the nation, hosting close to 150 groups (about 1,000 artists) performing 170 shows in eight days to an average of 10,000 patrons.

Over the course of the two weeks, Stage 773 transforms into a sketch comedy oasis, with the entire building featuring simultaneous performances in all four theater spaces. The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival invites comedians from around the world perform in an atmosphere of celebration, collaboration and community.

Stage 773, located at 1225 W. Belmont, is a non-profit Chicago company.

Tickets are $15 on Saturdays and $14 on Sundays at Stage773.com, where the a schedule of performances are listed, or (773) 327-5252, and in person at the Stage 773 box office.

For the kids

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) collaborates with The Chicago Chamber Musicians (CCM) for their 13th annual family concert, presenting "Fairy Tales" by William Bolcom with just one weekend of performances at 10 and 11:30 a.m. today and tomorrow, Jan. 18 and 19 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Courtyard Theater on Navy Pier. The one-hour concert introduces families and children ages 4 and up to the joys of live performance as CST actors imaginatively retell classic fairy tales accompanied by music played by CCM ensemble members.

Bolcom's staged "Fairy Tales" includes "The Fisherman and His Wife," "The Frog Prince," "Jorinda and Joringel" and "The Hare and the Hedgehog," each selected to give children the opportunity to discover, up-close, how individual instruments are played, how they play together, and to all of the joys of live performance. These tales are based on stories by the Brothers Grimm. Also on the program are excerpts from the Simple Symphony by Benjamin Britten, composer of the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. At 11 a.m. on both days, performers are available for autographs and pictures in the lobby, while young musicians demonstrate and answer questions about the featured instruments. FYI: chicagoshakes.com/fairytales.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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