As far a comedy is concerned, Chicago is known for bringing lots of laughs. From improv to sketch and stand up, the city has established itself as a top destination for humor, hands down. On any given night, you can take your pick of places to see up and coming performers or famous faces commanding the mic. So the next time you’re in the mood to LOL, make your way to one of these popular spots.
Fans of improv pretty much have a definite destination in mind when they’re in Chicago: 1515 North Well Street in Old Town. The venerable address is home to The Second City, the legendary club, theater and school of improvisation that has been entertaining crowds since 1959. Outrageous and spontaneous skits keep the crowds coming, and don’t be surprised if the talented people you see on stage become famous on Saturday Night Live and beyond. Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and Stephen Colbert are all alumni.
If you can’t get enough improv, the iO Theater in Lincoln Park is also a good bet. Founded by legend Del Close and Charna Halpern, the shows are sure to make you chuckle, especially any that involve long-form, anything can happen zany scenes of brilliance known as the Harold. The theater has also had a fair share of well-known comedians hone their chops here, notably Mike Meyers, Vince Vaughn, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Jason Sudeikis, and Cecily Strong, to name a few.
Those who prefer stand-up should look no further than the Laugh Factory, the Chicago outpost of the famous California comedy club. Its weekly Chicago’s Best Standup Show is a showcase of rising local talent, but the venue is also known for drawing in headliners such as Dave Chapelle, Tim Allen, Whitney Cummings, Chris D’Elia and Kevin Nealon on occasion.
For something for the entire family, The ComedySportz Theater offers all-ages entertainment in its comedy, sports, and game mashup that involves a bumbling referee overseeing a hilarious battle of the wits unfolding along with anything-goes audience suggestions.
Along with these clubs on the circuit, big-name comedians also take their acts to Chicago. In August, watch out for Ali Wong at The Chicago Theatre, Judah Friedlander at The Hideout and Jeremy Piven at the Vic Theatre; and Norm Macdonald and Marc Maron at the Vic in September.