iO Chicago Theater

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Formerly called ImprovOlympic, this Wrigleyville comedy theater, founded by Charna Halpern and Del Close, features teams of players who create often-elaborate "scripts" from audience suggestions. Bill Murray, who worked with Halpern and Close, wryly calls the ImprovOlympic "the most important group work since they built the Pyramids." At the heart of the work that flourishes here is the Harold, a long-form improvisation that discards sketch comedy in favor of variations on a theme of suggestions. The Harold usually loops around to complete the story it began a half-hour before. The non-smoking, air-conditioned venue offers good sight lines in a 125-seat upstairs theater, where set shows are performed, and 100-seat, cabaret-style theater for the improv shows. There are now about six shows going on at the ImprovOlympic, original one-acts or improvised journeys into the unknown.