Want to get good at stand-up? You've gotta hit open mics. That's it. That's the science of it in a nutshell. Hit as many as possible. Not just your buddy's mic and not just the mic at that dive bar near your apartment. Get out of your comfort zone. Chicago has so many quality open mics right now, there's just no excuse not to be working at this craft every night. But with more than 50 rooms in the city alone, it can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated. Here's a list of ten great Chicago mics for the aspiring comedian.
Open Mic @ Jokes and Notes This is the best open mic in Chicago, hands down. You want stage time at a real club? Want a pro DJ, an authentic crowd and a veteran host? J&N is the real deal. Audiences pay a cover with a two drink minimum to get in this legendary Urban comedy club. So you better bring your "A" game, or you might get booed off the stage a la the Apollo Theater. But in terms of real world experience it gets no better. Wednesdays. Sign up 8pm sign up, show 9pm.
Chicago Laugh Factory Open Mic If you want to perform stand-up for the most famous comedy brand in the world, then be sure to sign up at LF. Sure, you'll have to wait in line, you can only sign up for next week's show, and the crowd is mostly other comics—but it's worth it. It's a beautiful space and has all the trimmings of a professional theater. Plus it's one of the few mics watched by real bookers. Getting "passed" at the Laugh Factory has immediate benefits and opens the door for opportunities at others clubs. Wednesdays. Sign up 6pm, show 6:30pm.
3 Dead Moose Open Mic at Will's Northwoods Inn This super fun and silly mic is truly a workout room. Produced by two veteran Chicago comics that are as supportive as they are hard core microphone assassins. There's never a dull moment and pretty much everybody in the scene likes to hit this mic so it does get crowded. Get there early. Sundays. Sign up 7pm, show 8pm.
Power Hour! Open Mic at Gallery Cabaret This open mic is absolutely bananas. It's a packed house with crazy hosts and a cheap bar. The place looks and feels like a crazy bag lady decorated it, and the energy in the room usually matches the decor. It's a great practice room. What more could you ask for? Fridays. Sign up 6pm, show 7pm.
iO's Stand-UP Open Mic at the iO Theater Check out iO's brand new $7 million space built just for you to tell dirty jokes. Another professional theater that has recently jumped into the stand-up game. Great hosts, great space. Bring four minutes of material and jump on stage. Mondays. Sign up 7:45pm, show 9pm.
The Chaser Open Mic at Comedy Sportz Theatre Comedy Sportz is another famous brand comedy venue with a super solid mic. Proper theater with great hosts and a super legitimate pedigree. A full bar, top notch lights and sound round off the pro vibe. Mondays. Sign up 7:30pm, show 9:30pm.
Candela Comedy Open Mic at Candela Restaurant This Thursday night mic kind of came out of nowhere, but has slowly became a favorite. There's a lot of space, great lighting, full bar and tasty Latin food if you get the munchies. 2451 North Milwaukee Ave. Thursdays. Sign up 8pm, show 9pm.
The American Dream Open Mic at The Blarney Stone You wont know what to expect when you first walk into Blarney Stone. It's kind of a shabby bar in the heart Wrigleyville, but never fear, this is a great room. There's a separate side room for comedy and a nice rotating cast of host comedians. The producer work hard to make all feel welcome and it's become know as a solid workout room with comics getting up to five minutes. Thursdays. Sign up 8:30pm, show 9pm.
Rockwood Place Open Mic This is a super fun late night open mic. The crowd gets a little rowdy, but what a great way to test your crowd work skill set—if you can keep 'em listening you're doing great. Mondays. Sign up 11pm, show 11:30pm.
Open Mic at Cole's This is a hipster-centric open mic in Logan Square and is the best dive-bar mic in the city. If you're looking for a great looking, professional theater–type mic, this is exactly the opposite. There's spotty sound, terrible lighting and it's noisy as hell. But it's well loved, the hosts are great and some of the best comedians in the city come here on the regular. You need to sign up super early if you want a chance to get on stage. Wednesdays. Sign up 7:30pm, show 9:30pm.
Click here to see a complete listing of Chicago open mics.