A strange and unruly group of people gathered in a Diversey Avenue storefront on a recent Thursday night, including a funnel cake purveyor named Mary, a clown for adults, two men bent on avenging themselves against a hive of bees, a three-headed stingray hunter, and a New Zealand man with a baby that turned out to be a small dog.
There were also some 30 guests in the crowd, filling the warm, dark air with laughter, applause and the hiss-pop sound of opening beers as they took in The Thursday Show at Logan Square Improv (2825 W. Diversey Ave.), which is technically in Avondale. With no entrance fee and a BYOB policy, the weekly revue—which features a mix of improv, stand-up and sketch comedy—is easily one of the best deals in the neighborhood for a cheap night out.
Logan Square Improv first opened its doors in April in the former site of Cigar Box Music, and on a recent night its buzz of activity—people coming and going, the pulse of music, performers smoking on the sidewalk to ease their pre-show jitters—offered a welcome change on a usually empty stretch of Diversey Avenue.
The non-profit theater was founded by improv comedians Alex Prichodko and Andrew Lemna, who had formerly been operating out of a bar in Lakeview but decided to move to Logan Square after noticing the dearth of live comedy options in the area.
“We chose Logan Square because we have a lot of performer friends who live over the west side, so we were aware there wasn’t really a comedy theater on that side of town,” said Prichodko. “It seemed like a good idea… and I feel like it’s been proven out so far. The shows have been awesome, and people have been really supportive.”
In addition to The Thursday Show, Logan Square Improv also offers a variety of other regular programming, including Friday night stand-up comedy sets, weekly long and short-form improv shows on Saturdays, a showcase for Chicago’s Latinx comedy talent called Viernes en Logan Square, and Hot Reads, which “combines two of Chicago’s most beloved pastimes: bad sketch comedy and drinking.”
Besides its location, Prichodko said another thing that sets Logan Square Improv apart is the lack of an official house team of comics. Instead, the theater draws in improv acts from across the city.
“Andrew and I are involved in a lot of other theaters, and through that we see all kinds of different comics and teams and shows,” he said. “It’s kind of a cool thing—we get to pull from the whole city.”
Like other, more established improv theaters, Logan Square Improv also offers classes. The LS1-level course, which welcomes performers of all experience levels, meets Mondays from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. The cost for the 8-week class is $175.
With a little practice, participants can experience the joy and sense of flow that makes improv a healthy addiction for long-time practitioners.
“At a good improv show, you get to see people truly just playing on stage,” Prichodko said. “As a performer that’s the most fun, when you can make up an entire show with other people and see that teamwork happen on stage before you. It’s also really cool for the audience to see. You’re all on the same wavelength…it just feels like the whole room is connected.”
The theater’s BYOB policy is good seven days a week and, other than Thursdays and Sundays, the cost for most shows is $5. Tickets can be purchased at the door or on the Logan Square Improv website.
Featured photo: Tom Vlodek.