The Best Comedy Clubs in Chicago

iO Theater

Chicago and stand-up go hand in hand. And Zanies Comedy Club, a Chicago landmark for almost 40 years, is one of the most well-known spots for comedy in the city, featuring major headliners as well as up-and-coming comedians.

But there are many more comedy clubs in Chicago, including a number of places where the audience may get in on the action. Here are the best places to have a laugh in Chicago.

  • 01 of 08

    The Comedy Bar

    Photo courtesy of The Comedy Bar

    Completely under the radar in the nightlife-focused River North neighborhood, The Comedy Bar is on the third level of Gino's East--the legendary Chicago-style pizza parlor. That's especially great for hungry patrons who can order a deep-dish pie or two to much on as they watch performances. Local acts are featured with a mostly local crowd, but the laughs are universal. Additional comedy sets, plus live music, occur on the first floor of the venue at 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

    Where To Dine Nearby: Those not in the mood for pizza may check out Gilt Bar, GT Fish & Oyster or Tanta.

  • 02 of 08

    Gallery Cabaret

    Sundays are reserved for open-mic comedy at Gallery Cabaret, which means guests never know what they'll get. Sets get raunchy, slapstick, personal or whatever else the comics feel like doing. But it's bound to be entertaining at this Bucktown mainstay that includes a complimentary buffet, beginning at 8 p.m. There's also comedy every Thursday, and all shows are free.

    Where To Dine Nearby: Great places to grab a bite to dine in Bucktown include Hot Chocolate, Le Bouchon and Presidio.

  • 03 of 08

    iO Theater

    Photo courtesy of iO Theater

    Improv vet Charna Halpern opened the sprawling iO Theater in 2015 in Lincoln Park, and it boasts four theaters, two bars and an expanded training center for those looking to get into the business. No visit to iO is complete until guests check out the Monday night "The Armando Diaz Experience." That just happens to be Chicago's longest-running improvised comedy show, and its full name is "The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience Movement & Hootenanny." It was founded by Adam McKay (SNL, Anchorman, Talladega Nights), Dave Koechner (Anchorman, Thank You For Smoking, SNL) and iO Armando Diaz. The two-act, "long-form" improvised show consists of a monologist telling personal stories that inspire scenes by that show's cast.

    Where To Dine Nearby: There is a restaurant serving casual American fare on premises, and nearby are Pizzeria Bebu, Sono Wood Fired and Willow Room.

  • 04 of 08

    Laugh Factory

    Photo courtesy of Laugh Factory

    Love watching celebrity roasts on Comedy Network? You're certain to get wicked pleasure from the weekly takedowns at the Laugh Factory outpost in Lakeview. It's called "Afterthoughts: A Comedy Roast Show," and it's a chance for comedians' friends to strike back. While they're performing, their friends write mean jokes about them, which are then read aloud to the audience. It happens at 8 p.m. every first and last Monday of the month. Also, late-night owls should head here on Fridays for the "Midnight Madness" performance, which kicks off at 11:59 p.m.

    Where To Dine Nearby: Check out DryHop Brewers, which is a few doors down.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Lincoln Lodge

    Photo courtesy of Lincoln Lodge

    Fridays at Lincoln Lodge are reserved for stand-up comedy, and it's a favorite pastime in Bucktown. Shows start at 8 p.m., and the 80-minute show is a hoot, concentrating on a variety act, "Man on the Street" segment and more. This event has been going on for almost 20 years at this location.

    Where To Dine Nearby: Across the street is The Robey hotel, so a trip to Cabana Club, Robey Cafe or Up & Up rooftop lounge is a great idea. Also in the area are Big Star, Pork & Mindy's and Publican Anker.

  • 06 of 08

    MCL Chicago

    Photo courtesy of MCL Chicago

    MCL Chicago is BYOB. Located only a few blocks away from Wrigleyville, its most popular offering happens at 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. "VAMP: A Music Comedy Drinking Show" is unpredictable and gets the audience involved. The event even boasts a house band.

    Where To Dine Nearby: There are plenty of places to dine and drink in Wrigleyville, and most places stay open late on weekends.

  • 07 of 08

    The Second City

    Photo courtesy of The Second City

    The legendary sketch comedy venue that launched the careers of Alan Alda, Jim Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray and others just keeps cranking out the talent. There are four venues in one at The Second City — Mainstage Theater, E.T.C. Theater, Up Comedy Club and the Training Center — and each boasts a distinct style. One of the highlights at Up Comedy Club is "Fast, Loud & Funny," which takes on pop culture, Millenials and more in raw fashion. It happens at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 4 p.m. Saturday.

    Where To Dine Nearby: There are many great places in the Old Town neighborhood. Good bets are Kamehachi, Old Town Social, Orso's, Topo Gigio and The Vig.

  • 08 of 08


    Photo courtesy of Zanies Comedy Clubs

    Also in Old Town, Zanies is a top attraction because many of its headliners are major stars. Past performers have included the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Craig Ferguson and Chelsea Handler. It is the third longest continually operating comedy club in the country. There are additional locations in Rosemont and St. Charles.

    Where To Dine Nearby: More Old Town favorites include Adobo Grill, Happy Camper, Old Town Pour House and SteakBar.