Chicago's funny bone is as long as the lakefront trails from Evanston to Hyde Park and beyond. Stand-up comics and improvisers from across the country flock to this area to be a part of the city's celebrated comedy scene.
The Second City, arguably the most iconic and prolific comedy theater in the county, has introduced some of the most influential comedic voices in American comedy including Joan Rivers, Jerry Stiller, Alan Arkin, Anne Meara, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, John Candy, Betty Thomas, Dan Aykroyd, Tom Kazurinsky, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Andy Dick, Jane Lynch, Aaron Freeman, Tim Meadows, Chris Farley, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey and so many more. Thanks to their dedication to diverse voices, LGBT performers are frequently featured in the casts of their Main Stage and ETC casts. Housed in what is basically a comedy mall, you can find something to make you laugh seven days a week. Second City Chicago is located at the corner of North Avenue and Wells Street in Chicago, 312-337-3992 or visit www.secondcity.com .
iO ( formerly Improv Olympic ), also in Lincoln Park, features theaters and a variety of shows ranging from improvised Shakespeare and sketch revues to storytelling and improvised musicals. See www.ioimprov.com .
Chicago is also home to a thriving LGBT comedy scene. The queer improv group Baby Wine performs regularly at The Annoyance Theater, and GayCo ( www.gayco.com ) is celebrating over 20 years of fabulous comedy. If you are looking for stand up, The KIKI: Queer Comedy with Variety is Laugh Factory Chicago's evening of LGBT comedy featuring stand-up, storytellers, monologues, and music. ( @TheKIKIComedy ).
The Kates is an all-female comedy showcase that provides an intimate night of comedy different from anything you'll see at a typical Chicago club or late night bar. See www.thekates.org .
Women in Comedy, www.womenincomedy.org, is a national group, based in Chicago, promoting the work of women in the industry, including through shows.
Strip Joker is Chicago's only body-positive standup showcase. See https://www.uptownunderground.net/strip-joker.
The Annoyance Theatre has created some of Chicago's finest comedy for 25 years, www.theannoyance.com .
The Revival, in Hyde Park, is where improvisational comedy was invented in 1955, when the Compass Players opened a makeshift theater at the northeast corner of 55th Street and University Avenue. See www.the-revival.com .
Zanie's Comedy Club is a standup comedy club in the city and suburbs, www.chicago.zanies.com .
Laugh Factory is a comedy venue in Lakeview, www.laughfactory.com .
Up Comedy Club is a venue for standup, sketch comedy, improv, podcasts, and other entertainment that hopes to be smart, funny and provocative, www.upcomedyclub.com .
Playground Theater is an artist-led comedy theater, providing a home for comedians to grow as performers, writers, directors and producers. See www.theplaygroundtheater.com .
ComedySportz Chicago is at CSZ Theater in Lakeview, www.cszchicago.com .
There are also festivals year-round featuring comedians and improvisers from across the globe. The Chicago Improv Festival ( www.chicagoimprovfestival.org ) sprawls across the city each spring, and Stage 773 ( www.stage773.com ), located in the heart of the Belmont Theatre District, has a diverse programming of comedy festivals year round: Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, Chicago Women's Funny Fest, Chicago Nerd Comedy Fest and the Youth Comedy Fest.
With clubs, theaters, and bar shows across the city and suburbs, Chicago is absolutely the home of comedy. Come laugh with us.