Chicago has a reputation for being a city where comedians cut their teeth before shipping off to a coast. But the richness—and weirdness—of our homegrown comedy cannot and should not be overlooked. These five stand-up comics are crafting exciting, smart, strange comedy that’ll get you off the couch and going to more shows.
Sammy Arechar The comic’s affable, charming stage persona makes him the kind of performer audiences see themselves befriending. But Arechar’s comedy is far from pedestrian; his signature bit involves beatboxing his way through a three-minute pizza order. You have to see it for yourself at Stand Up Stand Up. See him Stand Up Stand Up at Crocodile Lounge: Thu at 8pm; free.
Joel Boyd Coupling witty cultural takes with a feel-good, boy-next-door vibe that just makes you smile, Joel Boyd is a comedic jack-of-all-trades. A founding member of the stand-up group MLKs of Comedy, you can also see him performing sketch and stand-up with Second City in UPscale. See him UPscale at UP Comedy Club: Jan 12 at 8pm; $15.
Alex Kumin This comedian is all over the place: She’s a regular in the Lincoln Lodge show, frequently opens for big names and performed in the 2016 NBCUniversal Second City Breakout Comedy Festival. Her fearlessness in tackling big social issues (racism! reproductive rights!) is only rivaled by her unabashed discussion of life’s minutiae (body hair! thigh chafing!). See her The Lincoln Lodge at SubT Lounge: Fri at 8pm; $10.
Rebecca O’Neal One of the hardest-working stand-up comics in Chicago, O’Neal performs almost every night of the week—including at her free, monthly show in Logan Square, Have Fun with Rebecca O’Neal. The South Side native seamlessly puts the audience in her shoes with her no-nonsense, introspective storytelling. When we laugh at O’Neal’s jokes, we’re also laughing at ourselves. See her Have Fun with Rebecca O'Neal at Cole's: Every third Thursday of the month at 8pm; free.
Sarah Sherman When you think of conventional stand-up comedy, you don’t think of Sherman. This theatrical comic creates surprisingly endearing bits by wrapping astute observations in blood, guts and dick jokes. Sherman’s monthly show, Helltrap Nightmare, bundles laughs and noise music in “a night of comedy terror.” See her Helltrap Nightmare Birthday Funeral at the Hideout: Jan 12 at 9pm; $12.