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How to support the Chicago comedy scene

How to support the Chicago comedy scene
Photograph: Scott Regan

Being involved in the Chicago comedy scene is a little like sticking your head in a goldfish bowl. Once you're in, it's pretty much all you're gonna be able to deal with; anything outside this strange new world gets drowned out rather quickly. When aspiring comedians in Chicago get bitten by the comedy bug, they get it bad. But it's also a very insular world. "Regular folks" who love comedy are usually completely ignorant about the dynamic Chicago scene and don't know that stand-up comedy happens seven days a week in this town. I'm always a little surprised when I come across "comedy fans" who love the art form but have never been to a show in Chicago. With that in mind, here some tips on how you can support the Chicago comedy scene.

Do a little research: I sometimes get a little reluctant to inform someone brand new to Chicago that there are over 50 open mics in this town—it can be a bit overwhelming. What I usually do is tell folks to go online. Six years ago there were few online resources that supported this scene. Now there's a ton. Google "Chicago comedy" and you'll find a plethora of resources to point you in the right direction. Do a little research and you can find the perfect fit, like a comedy club near you, a show on a specific night or even a themed showcase.

Check out the clubs: In theory, a decent comedy club has done all the quality control work (hopefully), and all you have to do is show up to watch a great lineup of professional comics. Just be aware that some clubs have a drink minimum and prices may be a bit higher than a normal neighborhood bar.

Check out the open mics: If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, then you should definitely check out the local open mic scene, which is arguably the best in the country. Sure, the quality of comedy is going to vary, but remember that mics are the engine of the scene and they're how comedians tighten up material and get better. Some of Chicago's top veterans work out material on stage at open mics in ways you don't get to see at the established clubs.

Follow comedians on social media: If you start attending shows on a regular basis and are able to watch Chicago comics in action you will probably develop some favorites. A lot of Chicago's best comedians are extremely social media savvy and have Twitter and Facebook accounts worth following. This is a great way to stay in the know about upcoming shows and performances.

Tell your friends: The best comedy shows and clubs in Chicago live and die by word of mouth. Regulars are the lifeblood of the city's most successful shows. Producers count on these fans spreading the word, so be sure to tell your friends about that great show you went to.

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