Lakeview’s nightlife scene just got that much better with the opening of the new ComedySportz Theatre, tucked away on the second floor of the old Ann Sather location. It’s a killer spot—foot-traffic galore, right near the El—and frankly, it’s nice to see something other than a restaurant or clothing boutique open on this stretch of Belmont. Inside, the revamped space has a similar setup to Second City’s main stage; a wide room with cabaret seating and wait service, and bar out in the lobby. The ceilings are high, the ductwork artfully exposed, the sight-lines tremendous. In short, it’s a whole lot nicer than anything ComedySportz has been able to offer in the past. So bring your corporate outings and bachelorette parties—everyone will be extremely comfortable and well-cared-for. What you won’t get is improv that develops characters and stories, but that has always the case with the theater games that ComedySportz specializes in (think “Whose Line is it Anyway?”). Lots of jokes, lots of short-form. Whatever the drawbacks, it’s a hugely upbeat, high-energy formula. Audience suggestions are constantly required to keep this thing moving—more than I remember from shows past, and it grows tedious as the night wears on—but the guys running this shop (managing director Greg Werstler and artistic director Matt Elwell) have cast performers who often transcend the limitations of improv-as-party-trick. The comedy hovers around a medium boil, and if the sardonic-exuberant Tara DeFrancisco happens to be on stage, all the better. And here’s something to look forward to: Later this month, ComedySportz brings back their R-rated late-night shows. Let the Hot Karling begin. (Nina Metz)
At ComedySportz Theatre, 929 W. Belmont, (773)549-8080. This production is now closed.