Baby Wants Candy: A Completely Improvised Musical

As arguably the comedy capital of the world, Chicago is home to a variety of improv and comedy shows to please anyone looking for a good laugh. Sure, there are the usuals you’ve probably already been to. There’s Second City, the Annoyance, and Improv Olympics. There’s Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind and there’s Bye, Bye Liver.

But what’s out there for those of us who want singing, who want dancing, who want to determine the direction of an entire two-hour musical? That’s where Baby Wants Candy steps in to fill the gap. Located in Lincoln Park at the Apollo Theater, Baby Wants Candy actors and musicians put on a completely original, never-before-seen and never-to-be-seen-again musical every Friday night with uproarious results.

With four locations around the world in Chicago, New York, London, and Edinburgh, Baby Wants Candy has spread musical and comedic joy to over 1,700 audiences. They record memorable quotes from each of their shows on their official blog, and it’s a great way to get inspiration for future musicals and to keep up with the casts. Recent shows include “Disney Princess Whorehouse: The Musical!” and “My Left Foot Looks Like a Dinosaur: The Musical!”

Baby Wants Candy is a breeding ground of topnotch Chicago comic talent, with a list of previous cast members to prove it. The Apollo Theater is where excellent improv performers go to foster their talents, sing, be merry, and do what they do best: make people laugh. Several Baby Wants Candy performers, including the following names, have graduated from the show to do amazing things: Stephnie Weir and Nicole Parker (MadTV), Rachel Dratch and Seth Meyers (SNL), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Garry Tallent (Bruce Springsteen and the E St Band), and Mark Pender (Max Weinberg 7).

The concept is simple enough. The two-hour show is entirely improvised. The band and actors get on stage and take suggestions from the audience. The band jams and the actors sing along, sometimes well, sometimes not. Sometimes they rap, sometimes they sing sweet love ballads. Sometimes they miss their cue, and sometimes they can’t think of the perfect rhyme (nothing rhymes with the word “month,” guys). But they are always having fun with it, rolling with the punches, and doing all the ridiculous things audience members shout to them.

The musical is best for a group of friends out on the town looking for a good laugh before hitting the bars in the area. The Apollo Theater has a full service bar, so you can get your night started right there, but be careful not to spit out your drink on the person sitting in front of you as the actors crack jokes about bodily functions and celebrities.

The end result of this apparent chaos is surprisingly catchy. I went to an exceptional Baby Wants Candy musical over a year ago, and I still can’t get the song “Lady Gaga Ate My Baby” out of my head.

The quality of the show is really determined by you and the rest of the audience. Whoever shouts out a musical title first gets an entire musical made up on the spot.  So get there early. Think of a musical title. When the actors come on stage, bolt out of your seat, raise your arms to the heavens, and scream it at the top of your lungs. Or you might get stuck with someone else’s musical pick. And that musical just might be about Justin Bieber.

The Essentials:

Location: Apollo Theater, 1 2540 North Lincoln Avenue
Price: $15 at the door (or bring your student ID for a discount)
Phone: 773.935.6100

Getting there:

Driving: Street parking available.
Bus: #8, #92
Train: Red, Brown, and Purple Lines — Fullerton Stop

About Molly Tranberg

Molly Tranberg loves discovering new things in Chicago–especially all of its wonderful food. She is a freelance writer and editor currently working from her very comfy couch on the Northside of Chicago. Her dream is to one day ride a segway around the city and heli-ski in Alaska.

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