The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, January 4 through January 10, 2017

1 Bowie Ball

Party:This twice-a-year club night toasts the Thin White Duke (three days ahead of what would have been his 70th birthday) with DJ sets, Bowie-inspired looks, Stardust-style makeup, and, at the end of the night, Bowieoke.
1/5 at 10 p.m. $7–$10. Berlin Nightclub, 954 W. Belmont.

2 SketchFest

Comedy:This annual sketch festival is notable not only for its size (1,000 performers each year) but also for historically groundbreaking shows. Keep an eye out for famous alumni, like T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley) and Danny Pudi (Community).
1/5–15. $37–$165. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont.

3 Her America

Theater:A story by Brett Neveu penned specifically for actor Kate Buddeke makes the world premiere of Her America a must-see. The one-person drama follows Lori, a Midwestern woman who holes up in her basement to sift through artifacts from a life gone awry.
1/6–2/12. $34–$48. Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln.

4 A Closer Look at the Ordinary

Photography:Lebanese photographer Serge Najjar’s shots of Beirut’s modernist architecture could be mistaken for colorful cubist paintings. But look closely, and you’ll spot faces staring out of windows and people strolling down the street—the 43-year-old ex-lawyer is fascinated by the ways humans interact with their environments.
1/6–2/25. Free. Catherine Edelman Gallery, 300 W. Superior.

5 Chicago Chamber Musicians

Classical:After almost 33 years presenting impeccable chamber music—and a 2014 change in name and management that many feared meant the end of the group—this veritable ensemble marches forward, here with a Mozart flute quartet, Schubert’s variations for flute and piano, and Dohnanyi’s sextet for clarinet, horn, violin, viola, cello, and piano.
1/9 at 7:30 p.m. $40. Ganz Hall at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Brian Posen Photo: Courtesy of Brian Posen

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know-locals: Brian Posen, executive producer of the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, which kicks off Thursday evening.

“We open the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Each day, we’ll have four shows running simultaneously every hour on the hour in Stage 773’s four theaters. You have to make a little Sophie’s choice, but you’ll see every flavor of comedy. It runs through January 15.

“We have a couple celebrities popping in this weekend. I’m super excited to see Danny Pudi Thursday night—he’s doing a solo set. He’s been performing at the festival for 10 years. Then T.J. Miller will be in on Friday and Saturday, performing with the group Heavy Weight at 10 p.m. They’re just amazing, because they’ve worked together for 20 years. T.J. will come in 20 minutes before the show with his cues written on a napkin. They could read out of the phonebook and it’d be funny. It’s nice to see T.J. again, especially now that he’s a “famous guy”—it’s like, ‘Oh, you still poop?’

“Friday, I’m super excited for Patti Vasquez’s one-woman show, Patti Melt, at 8 p.m. She’s a talk show host at WGN, and is just incredible. I’m also really looking forward to seeing Peter N Chris, on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; they’re these two dudes from Canada who are very, very seasoned. There’s a tremendous amount of competition for the out-of-state groups to get into the festival, because we only have so much space on the weekends. I’m also looking forward to Hot Thespian Action on Friday and Saturday 9 p.m. The dynamic between those two is so smart, playful, and refreshing. We’ll also have Fuct, from New York, Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m. They do shock-value sketch comedy, so you’ll see stuff on stage that is painful and extreme.

“Saturday, there’s a group called the Defiant Thomas Brothers. They’re a black and white team that does a lot of racially-motivated sketch comedy. They won the HBO Comedy Arts Fest in Aspen a few years ago, and their show is so good. They’re at 10 p.m.

“After the shows Saturday, at midnight, we do a performers-only show called the Sketchubator. Performers perform for other performers in five-minute slots. We’re sponsored by a beer company, and we give away our talent for free alcohol. It gets really crazy. We’ve had people propelling off the ceiling. We’ve had live chickens. It’s a time for us to let our hair down.

“Past that, my musical sketch group, the Cupid Players, will do a whole new show on Saturday at 7 p.m. We have a show, Cupid Has a Heart On, that’s been running for thirteen years, but we create a whole new show for Sketch Fest every year. Could be incredible. Could be disastrous.” —As told to Matt Pollock

Freebie of the Week

Brendan Fernandes

Art:This Canadian artist and choreographer moves dance out of its comfort zone. Take 2016’s Art by Snapchat, in which he sent instructions to dancers via Snapchat as they performed in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. At his first solo exhibit in Chicago, Fernandes conveys movement by using unlikely materials, including glass sculpture and crystal coat hangers hanging in a storefront window.
1/7–28. Free. Monique Meloche Gallery, 2154 W. Division.