iO Theatre

Comedy Club / Theater
iO Theatre Searching for plays, musicals, or performances at iO Theatre in Chicago? Check out Party Earth for schedules, photos, videos, & more for this incredible theater! Chicago United States 41.946727 -87.655991
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iO Theatre - Comedy Club | Theater in Chicago.
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INFO Improv comedy has a big history in Chicago, and multiple venues, like the iO Theater, are devoted to the art form. Across the street from Wrigley Field and sharing a block with some of Wrigleyville’s most popular bars... ... read more

iO Theatre Information

iO Theatre - Comedy Club | Theater in Chicago.

Improv comedy has a big history in Chicago, and multiple venues, like the iO Theater, are devoted to the art form. Across the street from Wrigley Field and sharing a block with some of Wrigleyville’s most popular bars, the iO Theater is a smaller cousin to famous Second City farther south. The “iO” stands for Improv Olympic, the comedy troupe that has called the theater home since 1981. Famous alumni of the iO Theater include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Chris Farley, and Andy Richter.

The iO Theater has a total capacity of 125, but it is divided into two theaters, each with its own full bar. Tickets can run as low as $5 and can usually be bought right up to show time. Several shows run every night, 7 days a week, with around 25 shows total each week. Each show has its own theme or format, with most involving some kind of audience participation.

During the day, the iO Theater runs classes in improv comedy for everyone from beginners to professional performers. Some of the classes perform for a paying audience in the evening. Classes in comedy writing and musical improv are also offered.

iO Theatre User Reviews

Average rating:
Great atmosphere, affordable drinks and a hilarious show
Michael D. Aug 8, 2013
Next time you're in Wrigleyville and are feeling some late-night improv, you should check out the iO Theater. Sure, Second City is the big name that Chicago is known for, but iO is just as entertaining, if not moreso. The setup is on the smaller side, but I think it enhances the theater's cozy atmosphere. That being said, you should probably get there a little early to make sure you get a good seat. The drinks are also decently priced, with draft beers going for under $10 for the most part. Have a drink and have some laughs, what's better than that? P.S If you're worried about Wrigleyville being too fratty for you, your fears will wash away once you enter this safe haven free of thumping bass and laser lights.
Funny like Virgins, Fresh Like Daquiris
Sharee A. Apr 11, 2013
Passing through Chicago for a few days in January, I jumped at the chance to check out their famous Improv scene. The friends I was staying with found a FREE (yes, FREE, no drink minimum or anything) show at iO. Having been to iO West classes out in LA, and not having much of a budget, I agreed. We arrived a bit early, got a front row table, took advantage of the cheap beer specials and prepared to be entertained. Although all of the teams were great, the definite highlight of the night was all-girl-group Virgin Daquiri, proving once in for all that yes, women can be funny. On top of being crazy good improvisors, they're all musical, and just had an album come out. A couple of the girls, like the hilarious Kate Lambert, were also featured in other teams throughout the night, which was awesome. We were also lucky enough to see Cecily Strong and (my favorite) Aidy Bryant, who were recently made featured players on SNL. Seeing SNL-calibur comedy -- and I mean that as a compliment: think of the best sketches -- at no cost and in person, sounds too good to be true, but in Chicago, it's pretty doable. You just have to know where to look, and iO is one of those places. So follow them on twitter, sign up for their mailing list, do what you've gotta do to get there. Oh yeah. And tip your bartenders. They're all struggling comedians too.
Awesome spot for improv!
Christina W. Dec 13, 2012
What a cute little improv theatre! I have only been to the downstairs theatre, but I had such a wonderful time. My coworker was in an improv group that performed there, so a bunch of us went after work to see her. We drank tons of lemon drop martinis and laughed ourselves silly. It was a wonderful time. I highly recommend iO for a few reasons. The first is that it is small and intimate, with little bar tables (much like Second City) where you can sit and have drinks with your friends during the show. The second is that it is a really inexpensive improv venue! Most shows are between $5 and $10, and some of them are totally free! Definitely worth checking out if you’re into comedy at all.
Great location, great laughs, great price.
Sammie S. Nov 6, 2012
While New York and Los Angeles have plenty of improv spaces, Chicago is the improv Mecca. I knew that I had to see an improv show or forever call my trip a wash I was traveling with friends who weren't as fired up about it and needed convincing. Luckily, iO is located in a great area for young people (Addison is home to bar after bar...after bar) and we serendipitously walked past it while we were out one night. After convincing my comrades that it was fate, not to mention $5 for that night's show, we saw two student groups and had an amazing time. The Del Close stage is dark, cramped by tables and chairs and delightfully small. There are newspaper clippings and signed head shots all along the walls showing just how deep the alumni talent goes. Everything about the space feels gritty and genuine and made me feel like I was at the heart of improv culture. Our bartender saw our California IDs and mentioned that he got his start at an improv space just down the street from my LA apartment. It’s true that people travel from all over to study in this city. iO is a training space so there's a mix of new students groups and more established teams. If you're really concerned about the quality of show I recommend researching individual groups. But for the price, I think it’s worth going in with a grab-bag mentality. Yes, Second City is more professional and you can go for dinner and a show, but iO is exactly what I wanted as a poor college student visiting Chicago for the first time.
The best improv in...the world?
Chris M. Aug 5, 2012
I've seen improv all over Chicago as well as a bunch of spots in LA, NYC, and Toronto and I would put iO at the top. Certainly the night depends on which group you are seeing but if you see one of the more established groups it will be great (student shows are a real grab bag). There are 2 stages, Cabaret and Del Close, with the downstairs usually having slightly bigger names but that is not a hard and fast rule. The BEST show is TJ and Dave every Wednesday at 11pm and this is one show that consistently sells out and requires you to get their early in order to get in. You'll recognize TJ from Sonic commercials (and a few other iO'ers) and this two-man show is hilarious and truly incredible. Also highly recommended are Deep Schwa, anything with Susan Messing, and Revolver, but with shows every night you are bound to end up with something good whenever you show up. The list of famous alumni is ridiculous so I won't go into it now, current SNL'er Vanessa Bayer being one of the most recent to make the jump from iO to the big time. iO also offers a ton of improv classes which are a lot of fun at any level.
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