12 Great Places to See Comedy in Chicago

The city's dynamic comedy scene and rich history make it a breeding ground for the top names in funny business

May 28, 2024 6:45 am
four people on stage performing sketch comedy
Second City
Timothy M. Schmidt

Why did the comedian bring a hammer to the comedy club? Because she wanted to nail her punchlines! We can practically hear the groans, but don’t worry: you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear far better jokes at the clubs and theaters listed here, thanks to Chicago’s dynamic comedy scene and rich history as a breeding ground for the top names in funny business. The next time you’re in need of a laugh, pay one of these spots a visit.

Annoyance Theatre


“Co-Ed Prison Sluts” put Annoyance Theatre on the Chicago comedy map 35 years ago, and it’s been producing one-of-a-kind, irreverent comedy since — from “The Real Live Brady Bunch,” live-acted episodes from the classic sitcom, to “Shark Tank the Musical.”  See musicals, sketch comedy, stand-up, improv and more seven days a week at the theater, which has a full bar. You can also sign up for a variety of classes at the company’s training center. 

851 W. Belmont Ave.

The Comedy Bar

Magnificent Mile

This performance space, featuring local stand-up comics, is housed on the third floor above deep-dish pizza icon Gino’s East, and guests have access to the restaurant’s full menu during the show. In warmer months, an outdoor terrace is open, too. 

162 E. Superior St.

The Comedy Clubhouse

Wicker Park

One Group Mind, a guild for comedians and improvisers, manages this casual space where you can see stand-up, group improv and scripted acts. There’s beer and cider on self-serve taps, and ticket prices are a very wallet-friendly $15 ($12 online). The Comedy Clubhouse offers classes for kids and grown-ups, as well as private events and fundraising options. 

1462 N. Ashland Ave.

The Den

Wicker Park

This multi-theater venue that’s home to a variety of stage and musical productions also hosts regular comedy showcases featuring rising local stars and solo gigs by nationally-known comics like Dave Atell, Alex Moffat and John Mulaney, all in small settings.

1329 N Milwaukee Ave.

A woman stands on a stage with a microphone in front of a crowd.
Humboldt Jungle
Humboldt Jungle

The Humboldt Jungle

West Humboldt Park

Events at this plant-filled, no-frills basement venue, including monthly comedy showcases and local stand-up acts, are donation-based (reservations suggested) and BYOB. Bonus: local pizzaiola Professor Pizza is often there selling slices, too. 

N. Central Park Ave. and Potomac Ave.

Two men perform on a stage in front of a blue background.
iO Theater
iO Theater

iO Theater

Clybourn Corridor

Countless famous comedians, including Jordan Peele and Seth Meyers, have passed through iO since it was started in 1981. Known as the founder of long-form improv, the theater closed in 2020 because of Covid-related financial hardships but reopened under new management in 2022. See signature shows like Improvised Shakespeare and Escándalo —a variety show featuring Latin comedians, musicians, poets, and in-house improv teams — five nights a week. From July 25 to 28, the theater is hosting the inaugural iO Fest, an improv comedy festival, featuring Tim Meadows, Matt Walsh, Ryan Asher, Tien Tran and many more. 

1501 N Kingsbury St.

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Two people perform on a stage.
Lincoln Lodge
Lincoln Lodge

Lincoln Lodge


A staple on the Chicago comedy scene since 1999, the nonprofit Lincoln Lodge has an impressive list of alumni, including Fred Armisen, Kristen Schaal and Natasha Legero. You can see live comedy most nights of the week in one of three theaters. Shows typically run 80 to 90 minutes and include Friday and Saturday night variety shows, traditional stand-up acts, improv and open mic nights. If you’re inspired by the laughter, sign up for a comedy class or workshop, covering subjects like stand-up and TV pilot writing. 

2040 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Logan Square Improv

Logan Square

The best deal in town might just be the BYOB, $5 improv shows every Wednesday through Sunday at Logan Square Improv. Sunday night open stage shows, for which anyone can sign up to test their material, are free. Classes and workshops are also taught here. 

2825 W. Diversey Ave.

The Paper Machete 


This free weekly “live magazine” at the Green Mill on Saturday afternoons is a variety show that’s always packed with an array of amazing talent. There’s one or two comics in the mix at each show, including regular “avian op-ed columnist” Chad the Bird, plus up-and-comers and occasionally more well-known names such as Hannibal Buress and Cecily Strong. Expect a sizable crown and a line to get in well ahead of the 3 p.m. start time — we suggest arriving at least an hour before the show.

4802 N. Broadway

The Revival 

South Loop

A group called the Compass Players that included legends Mike Nicholas and Elaine May started what’s now known as The Revival in the back of a Hyde Park bar in 1955, and many consider it to be where improv began. Now in the South Loop, you can catch shows most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and sign up for classes and workshops geared to kids and adults. 

906 S Wabash Ave.

A group of people perform on a stage.
Second City
Timothy M. Schmidt

The Second City

Old Town 

One of Chicago’s most beloved institutions, The Second City is where countless numbers of the world’s best-known comedians have honed their skills, and part of the fun of attending a show here is seeing many of their photos adorning the halls of what is now a multi-theater comedy destination at the corner of North and Wells. See shows seven nights a week — some by pros and some by students — and make a night of it with drinks and dinner at the 1959 Kitchen and Bar. 

230 W North Ave.

An empty stage with chairs in front of it in a dim room with large posters on the walls.

Zanies Comedy Club 

Old Town and Rosemont 

This old-school comedy club that opened in Old Town in 1978 remains a fixture on the joke-telling circuit, with shows most nights at the original location and a second near O’Hare. A lengthy roster of big names has appeared here on their way to stardom, including Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Roseanne Barr. Expect a two-item (food or drink) minimum in addition to your ticket price. 

1548 N Wells St.

5437 Park Place

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