Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play/The Public House Theatre

Comedy, Improv/Sketch Reviews, Improv/Sketch/Revues, Recommended Comedy Shows Add comments
Photo: Patrick Lothian

Photo: Patrick Lothian

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Before this hour of booze-soaked sketch comedy even starts, the audience spends plenty of time drinking in the lobby. And again in their seats after the house opens. And don’t worry, there are plenty of waitstaff dashing around throughout the show ready to serve you more shots, cocktails and buckets of beer. Unsurprisingly, there’s a telling scent of alcohol in the air as the show starts, with an emcee (Josh Dunkin, charming and smarmy in equal measure) who broadly states, “I’m assuming everybody here enjoys drinking… otherwise you’re in the wrong show!”

What follows is a cocktail of comedy scenework and interactive drinking games (name that tune, anyone?). The bits are laugh-out-loud funny (particularly a lengthy one between Sherra Lasley and Mike Barton that showcases the effects of various alcohols on a three-year-anniversary date) and the audience participation is engaging and just rowdy enough to remind you that most of the audience is buzzed, if not downright drunk (there’s a reason everyone in the cast is miked). Keyboardist Tilliski Ramey provides a skillfully comedic soundtrack throughout.

But when you get down to it, this is really just a solid hour of comedy that happens to be about booze. Still, that’s a pretty big “happens to be.” As winning as it is, without that hook it’s doubtful that this show would still be running to sold-out audiences after seven years (and expanded into five other cities as well). That being said, “Bye Bye Liver” doesn’t just coast on its history—this very funny ensemble works to sell every joke, truly explores and responds to the audience interactions and even drinks with the audience in the lobby after the show. That’s dedication. Or alcoholism. (Zach Freeman)

At The Public House Theatre, 3914 North Clark, (800)650-6449, byebyeliver.com. $20. Every Friday and Saturday at 8pm and 10pm.

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