It’s easy to take sketch comedy for granted here in the home of Second City and a seeming million other regular sketch shows. But the growing success of Sketchfest, now in its fourth year, belies that. Where else can you see 100 shows in eight days? Or how about fifteen shows in one night? With eighty-three groups performing this year (including twenty-two out-of-towners), you’d think they’d pretty much taken all comers—but about eighty groups got turned away. According to festival artistic director Brian Posen, the out-of-towners create an especially fertile environment for cross-pollination, since they do not come from the influential Chicago School of sketch. In opposition to usually spare and talky Chicago style, Posen points to The Third Floor from Portland, Oregon, where, in every show, “something will always blow up.” Also look out for local troupes Superpunk, the U of C’s Off Off Campus and New York’s Meat, Elephant Larry, and Fearsome. (Brian Hieggelke)
Chicago Sketchfest runs at the Theatre Building, 1225 West Belmont, (773)327-5252, through January 16.