The Best Comedy Shows in Chicago

Updated September 5, 2018
Laugh it Up

Stand-up and improv comedy are entertaining performing arts, and in Chicago there is an abundance of stand-up, improv, and other comedy performances to check out. When it comes to comedy shows, boozing is often more encouraged than booing. We’ve broken down some of our favorite comedy show venues where you can catch budding talent before they hit the big stage.

Chicago Improv

Improv is a huge part of the Chicago comedy scene, with well known SNL performers and comedians getting their start in the Windy City. Old Town is a comedy hub in Chicago, with several theaters in close proximity including Second City, Up Comedy Club, and Zanies.  

The Second City is a well known improv training center in Old Town, and you can also see shows on multiple stages. Up Comedy Club is a comedy theatre adjacent to The Second City with ticketed comedy shows like Improv All Stars. The venue has a full bar and restaurant to enjoy during the show.

iO Theatre, formerly Improv Olymics, is similar to Second City in that you can see shows or take classes at their New City location. There is a full bar at iO theatre, and the Off Color Brewing tap room is right across the street - we’d recommend getting some Bebu pizza to bring (yes, they allow BYOF), to Off Color for dinner before the show (or your improv class).

The Revival in Hyde Park has comedy shows, improv classes, and does workshops for groups and team building. They have beer and wine at the bar and a nice outdoor terrace.

Comedy Theater

Under the Gun Theater hosts live, independent comedy shows like The Lincoln Lodge, a collection of Chicago’s finest stand up acts. Other show involve freaky comics, sketch comedy, and The Blackout Diaries.

The Playground Theater is a non profit, artist-led theater with comedy shows, an incubator program, and classes like Womyn’s Workshop Series for female-identifying performers. All ages theater that recommends a minimum age of 16 for its shows, and has a RECESS program: Really Excellent Classroom Enhancement through Silliness and Satire, which has monthly performances at Lurie Children's.

Brewery Comedy Shows

The Comedy Bar in River North Comedy club with a large main stage and smaller B stage on the 1st floor. Shows 7 nights a week, including free Monday Late Night Mic open mic shows and The Big Sexy Show burlesque on Saturdays. Shows are for ages 13+. Full bar and dinner menu, on the third floor of Gino’s East River North & Gino’s Brewing Company.

Zanies has an intimate night club vibe and is a great place to see a show with a nationally known headliner in a small venue. Bar snacks and a full bar are available, and we’d recommend having dinner at Kamehachi before the show.

The signature Comedy Sportz show is an all ages, 90 minute improv show where 2 improv teams compete to be the crowd favorite (Th/Fri/Sat). The House Party show on Sundays is a weekly game-based improv show. Also teach improv classes including musical improv. Full service bar with sodas and snacks. No drink minimums for shows.

Laugh Factory and Annoyance Theater by Comedy Sportz on Belmont are also great shows to catch.