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The best Chicago comedy clubs

Chicago comedy clubs abound. These are our favorite full-time venues for stand-up, sketch and improv comedy.

Chicago comedy clubs: The Comedy Bar relaunched in 2012 with Jim Belushi as a high-profile new partner.

Chicago's reputation as a comedy town is well deserved. Comedy clubs dot the city's map. We're the city where improv comedy was born and sketch was refined, where SNL comes looking when it needs to replenish the well; it was here that Nichols met May and Poehler met Fey. The Chicago comedy scene is so pervasive that sketch troupes and stand-up comedy nights regularly crop up in bars, pubs, music clubs and theaters. But as full-time venues for improv, sketch and stand-up go, from grandaddy Second City to its newer cousin UP Comedy Club, these are the cream of the crop.

RECOMMENDED: Best Chicago comedy nights

Best comedy clubs

The Second City

Even if you know nothing about improv, chances are you've heard of Second City. This is the place that put both sketch and improvised comedy on the map.

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Old Town

iO Cabaret

There's no doubt about it, the house that improv legend Del Close and founding partner Charna Halpern built rules.

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Lincoln Park

Annoyance Theatre

Annoyance put itself on the map with its famously distasteful gross-out musical Co-Ed Prison Sluts. Twenty-plus years later, it still cranks out bizarre, unconventional comedy.

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Laugh Factory

Jamie Masada's SoCal comedy club empire established a Chicago foothold in 2012, refurbishing the former Lakeshore Theater space.

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Remember the olden days when comedy clubs with a two-drink minimum policy ruled? That era is long gone, but this venerable laugh factory has managed to hang on.

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Old Town

The Comedy Bar

Local headliners rule at this downtown stand-up room housed inside Ontourage night club. Jim Belushi is a partner in the venture, and occasionally shows up to host special lineups.

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River North

Upstairs Gallery

This casual, BYOB Andersonville room has become ground zero for the city's underground improv scene.

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Jokes & Notes

This Bronzeville spot opened in 2006 as the city's sole black stand-up club, filling the void left by owner Mary Lindsey's former home, the late, lamented All Jokes Aside.

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The Public House Theatre

The producers of the long-running Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play now have their own venue a few blocks north of Wrigley Field, where the flagship drunkfest fits right in.

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UP Comedy Club

The Second City's third stage in Pipers Alley mixes touring stops by well-known stand-ups with tourist-friendly improv showcases and collections of archival sketches performed by Second City–trained stage vets.

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Old Town