Chicago comedy clubs: The best places to find the funny in Chicago

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



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  • Chicago comedy clubs: The Second City has occupied its Wells Street address since 1967.

  • Photograph: Dave Rentauskas

    Chicago comedy clubs: Annoyance Theater marked 25 years of Co-Ed Prison Sluts and similarly twisted fare in 2012.

  • Chicago comedy clubs: iO is soon to give up its longtime Wrigleyville digs for a reported relocation to Lincoln Park.

  • Photograph: Mark Wright

    Chicago comedy clubs: Jokes & Notes owner Mary Lindsey was previously co-owner of All Jokes Aside, where comics like D.L. Hughley, Steve Harvey and Craig Robinson honed their chops in the �90s.

  • Photograph: Scott Regan

    Chicago comedy clubs: Laugh Factory, with two longstanding locations in southern California, opened its Chicago outpost in the former Lakeshore Theater space in 2011.

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

  • Photograph: Mark Colomb

    Chicago comedy clubs: The Upstairs Gallery in Andersonville has quickly become the top spot for weird, wonderful word-of-mouth shows.

  • Chicago comedy clubs: Zanies's Old Town outpost hosts a steady lineup of touring comics with support from local acts.

  • Chicago comedy clubs: The Public House Theater's new Wrigleyville digs hosts the slosh hit Bye-Bye Liver on the weekends while small sketch groups get stage time on off nights.

Chicago comedy clubs: The Second City has occupied its Wells Street address since 1967.

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

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.

  1. 1616 N Wells St, (at North Ave)
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iO Cabaret

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

  1. 3541 N Clark St, (between Cornelia and Eddy Sts)
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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.

  1. 851 W Belmont Ave
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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.

  1. 3175 N Broadway, (at Belmont Ave)
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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.

  1. 1548 N Wells St, (between Schiller St and North Ave)
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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.

  1. 157 W Ontario St, (at LaSalle Dr)
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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.

  1. 4641 S King Dr, (between 46th and 47th Sts)
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The Public House Theatre

  • Price band: 1/4

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.

  1. 3914 N Clark St, (Clark St and Byron St)
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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.

  1. 230 W North Ave, (at Wells St)
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  1. 1515 W Berywn Ave, (at Clark St)
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  1. 157 W Ontario St, (at LaSalle Dr)
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The ComedySportz Theatre

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. 929 W Belmont Ave, (at Wilton St)
More info
  1. 230 W North Ave, (at Wells St)
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