Letts Takes a Turn
Tracy Letts‘s new play, August: Osage County, is burning up the stage at Steppenwolf. Those who’ve seen it and are hungry for more-or those looking for a more affordable introduction-can opt for Cop Show, a TV pilot from Letts and one of Chicago’s best-known improvisers, David Pasquesi. The episode screens Friday as part of this weekend’s first-ever Chicago Comedy TV Pilot Competition, a contest that aims to inject some life into that pool of unimaginative drek known as TV sitcoms (we’re talking to you, Two and a Half Men). The competition screens 12 pilots total, with programs at 8:45 and 10:30 p.m. Friday the 20th and Saturday the 21st. Network execs pick the winner of a $5,000 prize. The contest is held in conjunction with the Chicago Short Comedy Video and Film Festival, featuring 41 comedic shorts, with showings at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Our favorite on paper? Butter, which comes with the simple description “Breakfast and metaphysics don’t mix.” Both the contest and the festival take place at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.; 866-468-3401). Admission is $10 per show, or $25 for three same-day shows.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

• Peter Sellers would be so proud-bizarre, absurdist comedy has made a comeback. Exhibit A: Stop Not Going, a fast-paced show of offbeat characters in disparate scenes woven together using only two chairs as props. The new show from The Pajama Men, a.k.a. Shenoah Allen and Marc Chavez, reprises many of the characters from last year’s sold-out run at Steppenwolf Garage Theater. Stop continues Wednesday through Sundays at Storefront Theater (66 E. Randolph St.; 312-742-8497) through August 19th. Tickets run $15 to $20.

• “Life moves pretty fast,” the wise sage Ferris Bueller once said. Need a break from the bustle? Grab a patch of grass and catch an alfresco screening of the 1980s classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, shown on the lawn behind the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.; 312-642-4600) at 8 p.m. Wednesday the 25th.

• Speaking of pop-culture throwbacks: It’s often referred to as the city’s no. 1 meet market, but Old St Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party (Madison Street and Des Plaines Avenue; 312-648-1590) is also your one-stop weekend shop for 1990s alt-rock. Rusted Root takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. Friday the 20th, and Big Head Todd and the Monsters perform Saturday the 21st at 9 p.m. The fest runs 5 to 10:30 p.m. both days. Tickets are $35 to $40 at worldslargestblockparty.com.

• Rub elbows with local literati at the third annual Printers’ Ball. Hosted by Poetry magazine and 80 other organizations, the bash toasts alt-presses, zines, lit clubs, and more (from the blog Bookslut to the pet-friendly mag Chicagoland Tails). The all-ages party starts at 8 p.m. Friday the 20th at Zhou B. Art Center (1029 W. 35th St.) and includes music from The Magic Lantern, The Blue Ribbon Glee Club, and the 1900s. Admission is free; visit printersball.org for more information.

Geek Out
• It’s inevitable that at least one Harry Potter party makes our list, and Oak Park, which devotes half its real estate to Britain’s most famous fictional wizard, hosts the best celebration around. The Countdown to Midnight starts mid-day Friday and continues through midnight, when the book becomes available at The Magic Tree Bookstore (141 N. Oak Park Ave.; 708-848-0770). From 2 p.m. to midnight, Oak Park Avenue businesses convert into Diagon Alley; local cafes and restaurants sell Potter’s beverage of choice, nonalcoholic “butter beer”; and the Oak Park Main Library (834 Lake St.; 708-383-8200) stands in for the Hogwarts library, with face painting and wizard training. Find a full schedule at visitoakpark.com.

• Ready the invisible plane. Kit Kat Klub (3700 N. Halsted St.; 773-525-1111) celebrates Lynda Carter’s 56th birthday starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday the 25th. Wonder Woman episodes play on five screens; drink specials include the Lasso of Truth martini; and the best Wonder Woman lookalike wins a $250 gift basket.

PLEASE NOTE: Events may be postponed or simply canceled. Please call ahead to make sure they are still scheduled to take place. Send tips or comments to marquee@chicagomag.com.