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CIF Nine: What's So Funny?

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 20, 2006 6:25PM

The Chicago Improv Festival kicks off tonight at the Gallery Cabaret in Bucktown with Schadenfreude’s first Chicago stage performance since…probably last year’s fest. The “Schadenfreude Rent Party” is an evening of all new material from a group that routinely packed the house at past CIFs, their late night revues, and the national college circuit until Chicago Public Radio got a hold of them. Then they were too busy hobnobbing with, and making fun of, Ira Glass to perform much. Now that their show’s off the air, they’ve come crawling back. Actually, they’ve been busy podcasting, blogging, and presumably mining Aldermanic follies and the gentrification wars for comic material. Enjoy a sneak preview of their stage show here.

cifcreatures.jpgThe event also features performers from Chicago Improv Festival Nine, a magnet for the supremely funny and the up-and-coming groups taking over the Athenaeum next week. The CIF is pimpin’ big time for the headliners you’ve seen on TV like Horatio Sanz, MADtv cast members, Four Square (featuring Daily Show and SNL talent), and quirky blast from the past Emo Phillips. But not all the scheduled ensembles are funny. Or at least, not all of them are trying to be humorous. The Midnight Hellhouse (April 27), presented by Fairfax Christian Outreach Ministries, is shock therapy for non-believers conceived on the fly. They’re trying to save those of us who’d revel in the work of Pimprov, The Brothel, Full Frontal Nudity, and Let Them Ho’s Fight (all performing April 28).

The Cultural Center features free previews of CIF acts next week, but you’ll have to pony up the cash for next weekend’s shows. On a more somber note, this year’s festival is being dedicated to the memory of Marc Sinclair, Time Out Chicago’s Sports and Comedy Editor who died last week of a brain aneurysm. A moving tribute to the late champion of the Chicago comedy scene is at the TOC site.

The Schadenfreude Rent Party is tonight at the Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N Oakley. Suggested admission is a $12 donation. The Chicago Improv Festival runs April 24-30 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 W Washington St, and The Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N Southport. Ticketed shows cost $15-30. More information at

Images via Lacy Weathersbee, Schadenfreude, and the Chicago Improv Festival.