Chicago Comedy Clubs by Bryan Bowden

  • Chicago Comedy Clubs: 6 Clubs Tourist Need to Know About

    If laughter is the best medicine, Chicago is the health capital of the universe. Rollicking with some of the best comedy clubs in the US, if not the world, it has introduced some of the biggest stand up comedians and improv artists in the genre. On your next trip, don't skip the well-known venues, but take a look at some of the lesser-known comedy clubs in Chicago as well.


    Zanies is home to some of comedy's rising stars. In fact, on any given night, you might spot the next George Carlin or Kathy Griffin. At $25, it's cheap to get in, especially when it means enjoying a night full of laughter. However, on Tuesdays, guests from certain zip codes get in for free because Zanies really believes in giving back to the community. The best part is that lots of widely recognized comedians often emcee, so you get double the treat.


    Visitors to and natives of Chicago are often sports fanatics. What better way to enjoy your time there than to laugh while getting your sports fix? ComedySportz offers some of the best Chicago improv you'll ever see, plus you might win a trophy at the end of the night. If you enjoy the premise of shows like Wild N Out and like the idea of a comedy or improv battle, this is definitely the venue for you. Odds are your favorite improvisational comedians are on the lineup at some point.

    Jokes and Notes

    If you prefer the freedom and flavor of African American comedy, a visit to Jokes and Notes is imperative. This place is a beacon for up-and-coming black comedians, not to mention well-known stars. The atmosphere is fast-paced and exciting, and it's easy to understand why. Comedians like Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, and the Original Kings of Comedy—Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac—all had time on the stage at Jokes and Notes. It's entirely possible that the next big name in comedy is performing there today.

    The Playground Theater

    One of the best comedy clubs in Chicago is still something of a well-kept secret, although both Jack McBrayer and the inimitable Jason Sudeikis played there in their early days. You'll get in for no more than $10 because The Playground is a co-op designed to give comedians, actors, and writers full control over the shows, sketches, and improvisations. As a result, there's a wonderful feeling of freedom and energy in every show. 

    The Annoyance Theatre & Bar

    You'll feel anything but annoyed after a visit to The Annoyance. It's like Fight Club, kind of: the only rule is that there are no rules. There are fantastically funny and marvelous morbid sketch and improv shows, plus up-and-coming writers get to showcase their work—at their own risk, of course.

    The Comedy Bar

    Of course, if you prefer straight standup, there are many places to visit. You can either visit standard favorites, such as Second City, or take a chance at The Comedy Bar. The decor may look like a '90s SNL movie but the comedians are tops, running the gamut from exuberant chucklers to that slightly morose blend of comedy that leaves you feeling awkward even as you laugh.

    There are lots of comedy clubs in Chicago. Just decide what makes you laugh and how much you feel like drinking; you'll find the perfect venue.

    Booking your Chicago vacation

    Start planning your Chicago vacation today with our extensive range of Chicago hotels and Flights to Chicago. We're sure you'll love Chicago Theater as much as we do.

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