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Chicago comedy nights: The best comedy shows at bars and pubs

These Chicago comedy nights at alternative venues are among the best bets for up-and-comers in stand-up and sketch comedy.

Photograph: Melissa Mamroth
Comedians You Should Know

Chicago is host to a bevy of dedicated comedy clubs, from such institutions as improv mecca iO Chicago and the legendary Second City to stand-up joints like Jokes & Notes. But some of the most daring Chicago comedy can be found in bars and pubs, bookstores and comics shops, on stages where bands might be playing most nights. Following the example of the Lincoln Lodge, which began its life in the back room of a greasy-spoon diner (though it now makes its home at Wicker Park's SubT), regular comedy nights have sprouted in a number of Chicago's watering holes over the last decade and a half. These are the places you're most likely to spot the next Cameron Esposito or Kumail Nanjiani.

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The Lincoln Lodge

Critics' pick

Having relocated to Subterranean after the loss of its longtime space in the now-closed Lincoln Restaurant, the country's longest continuously operating home for alt comedy continues to be a fine place to see emerging stand-ups. As of December 2015, the Lincoln Lodge has a second weekly night at the new Hyde Park venue, the Revival.

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Subterranean , West Side Friday September 2 2016 - Friday December 30 2016

Chicago Underground Comedy

Critics' pick

This outstanding night of comedy takes in four to five comics each week. Keep your eye on some of these folks: they're going places.

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Beat Kitchen , Roscoe Village Tuesday August 2 2016 - Tuesday April 25 2017

Congrats on Your Success

Critics' pick

Since its start in 2012, stand-up comedy showcase Congrats on Your Success has steadily built up an audience of dedicated regulars, who pack every bit of available space in Logan Square's Uncharted Books. The show's loose, friendly vibe is reinforced by interactive bits and between-set segments that engage attendees with the show's hosts and producers, who describe their audience as "DTF."

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Uncharted Books , Logan Square Thursday August 4 2016

The Yeah Buddy Awesome Time Comedy Show

Critics' pick

Dave Losso and Jason Melton produce this free monthly show at Brainstorm Comics, on the third floor of the Flat Iron Arts Building. In its first months it's hosted solid lineups of established and up-and-coming local stand-ups, along with some non-traditional acts. And free + BYOB = never not worth checking out.

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Impossible Industries , Wicker Park Saturday August 13 2016 - Saturday October 22 2016

Best Night Ever

This weekly comedy showcase at Wrigleyville's Gman Tavern features a mix of local and touring stand-ups, all at no cost to the audience.

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Gman Tavern , Wrigleyville Monday August 1 2016 - Monday April 24 2017