Everybody loves improv: the zaniness, the scenes created on the spot from audience suggestions, and the potential for the funniest (and most unexpected) moments to happen in real time. But did you know that Chicago—with its renowned troupes and stages—is where the rules of modern improvisational comedy were formed? So really, there’s no better place to introduce your offspring to the magic of this hilarious art form. Thinking that improv is strictly a kids-free endeavor? Thankfully, you get to think again.
The best improv classes for your little comedian
For exceptional ways to get your lil comedian (or comedienne) into the action even more, check out these three programs tailor-made for the funniest person you know. (Your kid.)
A one-hour improv workshop for your birthday kiddo (and a crew of his or her incredulous friends) will teach the basics, while giving everyone the chance to work their voices, bodies, and imaginations. Who needs cake? (Seriously, though, you should still bring cake.)
The Second City
From the basics to a stage-ready performance, The Second City offers a multitude of classes for all ages (as young as 4!) and abilities. Between communication, respect for fellow performers, and self-confidence, theyll be learning life skills alongside the funny, too.
Whether your teen has what it takes to be the next SNL superstar or simply could benefit from the great habits of teamwork, sportsmanship and listening skills, the High School League at ComedySportz is a program for just about everybody. They send a professional improv coach to your area high school for workshops. Your kid gets to dominate at league-wide competitions with her teammates.
1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
Kids have lots of opinions. The professional (and energetic) “Townies” at Storytown harness those great ideas to create a truly unique theatrical experience each Saturday at Stage 773, their home in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. How unique? Once they take audience suggestions, the story is fully improvised by actors, the set and props are whipped up by resident artists (and lucky theatergoers!), and the score is crafted up on the spot by ready-and-waiting musicians. Can’t make a Saturday morning show? You’re in luck. Storytown travels—and does birthdays.
1501 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago
The world-famous iO Theater has opened its doors to the most discerning and vocal audience yet: 3- to 11-year-olds. Their hit show, The Greatest Story Never Told, invites that same tough-to-please crowd to create a show (and then improvise it alongside seasoned pros, if they so choose). Want to preserve your kid’s star turn? The story gets written down as it’s being performed and is later beautifully illustrated, giving your child a souvenir a heck of a lot cooler than any T-shirt.
The Second City
230 W. North Ave., Chicago
A brand-new improv show from the company who brought John Belushi and Tina Fey into the public eye? Always a solid bet. Even better: Go Improv Go 2.0 is a rollicking experience full of audience suggestions, the style of humor that put Chicago on the map, and one which you can actually bring your kids to. (No, really, it’s rated G!)
929 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
At ComedySportz, two teams face off in a battle of the funny, using audience suggestions and a “rule book” featuring hundreds of games. It’s anyone’s guess what gets played next, but there’s a decided absence of inappropriate material, which would preclude you from bringing your kid. (It’s good, clean fun for ages 7 and up!)