If laughter is the best medicine, then the best comedy clubs in Chicago IL only serve to underscore the point that the town must be one of the healthiest cities in the country. Legendary comedians from all over the world have graced the stages of Chicago’s top comedy venues at one time or another, and returned to mentor others, providing training in the tools of the funny trade. Some major comedians started in the Windy City. Improv is a Chicago comedy specialty as well, and you’ll find no shortage of that on this list. You can find places that offer improv classes also, if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself. If you think you are the next Tina Fey or John Mulaney in the making, witness the art for yourself at some of the best comedy clubs in Chicago, IL.
Even if you’re not from Chicago, The Second City should ring a bell. Lot of SNL alums, including Bill Murray, Aidy Bryant and Mike Myers have graced the Second City stages, along with other notable, successful, famous alums Stephen Colbert and Joan Rivers. This is one of the most prolific comedy clubs in Chicago, though, so plan ahead and get tickets early.
Laughter brings people together — but so does alcohol. Combine the two, and you get Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play. Every Friday and Saturday night you can sip a beer with your fellow Chicagoans and feel a little less embarrassed about your own drunken escapades by laughing along with someone else’s.
The shows at iO are great for a night out with friends. They focus on long-form improv with their headlining show being the Harold. In addition to the calendar of performances, they also offer improv classes and training. So hey, if iO alumnus Amy Poehler could do it, why not you?
Zanies hosts nationally known comedy headliners. The venue holds just over 100 people, but the intimate space will bring you closer together with your fellow comedy patrons. First-come, first-serve seating here, folks, so get there ahead of the crowds to claim your spot.
Annoyance Theatre is serving up unconventional comedy in a new Belmont location. What brought them to the Chicago comedy scene was their show, Co-Ed Prison Sluts. Intrigued? Two stages and the bar invite you to witness this raunchy comedy for yourself.
You’ve heard of improv, of course, so now get ready for… Pimprov? It’s “pimps “who improv”: simple as that. If unscripted pimps don’t have you interested, CiC also host open-mic nights, sketch, and other theatrical forms of comedy. You can find something to get you laughing Wednesday through Sunday at their Lakeview location.
Who said improv isn’t competitive? ComedySportz welcomes all ages to their improv competition shows. Two teams collide head-to-head (not literally, or maybe…), as they compete for audience applause to determine the winner. The referee will keep this battle of wits in check and ensure a fair fight.
Laugh Factory hosts well-known comedians and also puts on specialty shows. The Nasty Show is the one you can’t miss, as Chicago’s best comedians bare all (figuratively, not literally). You may surprise yourself by laughing along to this pretty twisted show.
UP Comedy is host to The Second City, in addition to a variety of other improv, music, and comedy shows. Getting to the venue early is the only way to make sure you get a front-row seat. You can drink, sip, and savor at UP: They have a full dinner menu and bar. PS: No drink minimum.
Standup alt-comedy is The Comedy Bar specialty. Besides alcohol, of course. You can get dinner and a show here, as they have a full-service kitchen. Checking out cutting-edge comedy sounds like a night out in Downtown well spent, doesn’t it?
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David Podgurski has written about travel, books, fashion + entertainment for digital and print media. He’s hunted down vintage finds in crumbling attics, published poetry, worked for the New York MTA, and likes to haunt museums, cafés and shops. When he isn’t traveling or writing, he’s thinking about his next trip — and what to enjoy when he gets there.