The Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival runs through Sunday showcasing circus talent that goes way beyond overstuffed clown cars. See acrobatics, contortionists, jugglers, aerialists, and yes, some clowns, at large shows and smaller cabaret-style performances. There are also workshops for circus folk. Tickets are available here. Shows are at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., and Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave.
Chicago was the birthplace of sketch comedy (think Second City) and it’s time for the annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival. The 14th annual event, which bills itself as the biggest sketch comedy fest in the country, runs form the 9-19. The schedule of acts is here. All shows are at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Illinois residents get free admission all weekdays in January at the MSI.