2005_07_artsDEL.jpgThis week is rife with comedy possibilities, thanks in part to the 7th Annual Del Close Marathon at the UCB Theatre. The festival is named for the guru-junkie-genius who helped found Chicago’s ImprovOlympic. If you want to put a face with the name, Close was also the teacher in Ferris Bueller who wasn't Ben Stein. The fest has grown in size and stature over the last 7 years and to accommodate there will be a second stage at the Abingdon Theatre, which has been putting up additional shows all week with some big names from New York and Chicago. The Chicago based groups listed below tend to attract huge, loyal audiences that pack the house as they generally don’t perform in New York more than once a year. Gothamist recommends you check them out during the week to avoid having to stand in a packed, overheated theater with an obstructed view.

Baby Wants Candy is arguably the biggest draw at the marathon every year. If musical improv makes you shudder and causes hallucinations of Wayne Brady’s tight shirts, BWC will change your mind. The Chicago based group performs an hour long musical that are often beyond description, they are perfect. While the cast is now split between New York, Chicago and LA, they have reconvened for New York audiences this week. 8pm tonight and Thursday, 10pm Friday $10

TJ and Dave – TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi are two of Chicago’s best improvisers. Veterans of Second City and Improv Olympic, they are the kind of performers who make improv look easy and make you wonder if it really is unscripted. They have already sold out tonight’s show but will be performing tomorrow at 9:30pm and Friday at 8:30pm. $10

Carl and the Passions – The players in Carl and the Passions are a melding of the best students and teachers from ImprovOlympic. Sitting in with them are their old Chicago friends Jack McBrayer and Conan writer Kevin Dorff. Friday 11:30pm

Abingdon Theatre – 312 W. 36th Street, 1st Floor.
For a full schedule of marathon events check out www.ucbtheatre.com or www.delclosemarathon.com.