Improv heroes return to Chicago for opening of new iO

SHARE Improv heroes return to Chicago for opening of new iO
SHARE Improv heroes return to Chicago for opening of new iO

The grand opening of iO’s new space at 1501 N. Kingsbury brought a bevy of comedians back to Chicago to celebrate the theater that taught them how to create great theater on their feet.

Among the night’s performers: David Koechner of the “Anchorman” movies, Jack McBrayer and Scott Adsit of “30 Rock,” Joel Murray of “Mad Men,” Jordan Klepper of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and Lucas Neff of “Raising Hope.”

A red carpet was set up outside the main door Saturday night where the esteemed guests could pose in front of a backdrop, some seizing the moment to screw around and some just acting sheepish. All of it was captured by actors pretending to be paparazzi.

Video: iO owner Charna Halpern leads a tour of her new digs

The events capped a two-day celebration that included 10 or so special shows starring the visiting improvisers. The centerpiece of Saturday’s lineup was a performance of iO’s regular weekly showcase “The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience,” this one packed with a cast of around 40.

Playing off personal memories recalled by “Mad TV” player Stephnie Weir and “Pitch Perfect” writer Kay Cannon, the players charged through scenes about a family of cheaters, a Home Depot staffer’s birthday party and a bridge where people relieve themselves.

When “Late Night with Seth Meyers” writer John Lutz played a stranger wandering into the home of Cannon and Mike Coleman, this exchange ensued:

Cannon: “Can I get you something to drink, like …”

Coleman: “… spicy soup?”

Later, McBrayer played the searcher of a lost cat. The lonely hermit he encountered (current iO performer Brett Lyons) offered him a drink from a barrel of rainwater and asked if the meat was still available from the snake who died to make his belt, among other odd things. McBrayer, always the pro, just let him carry on.

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