Top Comedy Clubs in Chicago

A Dive into the Glorious Stand-Up Comedy Scene in Chicago

In the Windy City, where the howl of the urban wind is met with equal ferocity by the hearty laughter of its inhabitants, lies a subculture that blends art, self-expression, and unabashed rawness. Stand-up comedy, much like Chicago itself, thrives on the collision of grit, wit, and an unquenchable thirst for the truth. It's a city where comic voices, from the bold to the bizarre, clash and converge within smoky bars, intimate clubs, and on the grand stages of historic theaters.

Join us as we embark on a journey through Chicago's eclectic and sometimes ruthless comedy scene, where a single spotlight illuminates the brave souls who dare to bare their souls and make us laugh. We'll explore the iconic stages and the unconventional spaces that make up the city's comedic tapestry.

Live Comedy in Chicago: Where To Go

Laugh Factory

Nestled in the vibrant Lake View neighborhood, The Laugh Factory has been an essential hub for live comedy fans in Chicago since its opening in 2012. As a sibling to the legendary Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, the Chicago outpost has quickly earned its reputation as one of the city's premier destinations for stand-up comedy. Housed in a historic building that was once home to the iconic Lake Shore Theater, The Laugh Factory has preserved and enhanced the storied past of this remarkable venue, infusing it with a modern flair that captures the essence of the contemporary comedy scene.

Upon entering The Laugh Factory, visitors are greeted by an inviting atmosphere, with its sleek design and comfortable seating arrangements. The intimate 311-seat venue offers excellent sightlines, ensuring that every audience member is treated to an up-close and personal comedy experience. A full-service bar, boasting a wide array of beverages and signature cocktails, keeps the laughs flowing throughout the night. The Laugh Factory prides itself on being a space that fosters the growth of both established and emerging comedians, hosting weekly open mic nights and fostering local talent alongside its stellar lineups of national headliners.

The Laugh Factory Chicago has played host to a veritable who's who of comedy giants, with recent performers. The club's dedication to showcasing a diverse array of comedic voices guarantees that audiences will experience a unique and unforgettable night of laughter. Whether you're a die-hard comedy aficionado or just in need of a good chuckle, The Laugh Factory Chicago promises a rollicking good time for all who step through its doors.


For over four decades, Zanies Comedy Club has been a cornerstone of Chicago's stand-up comedy scene, with its flagship location in the bustling Old Town neighborhood. Established in 1978, Zanies has cultivated a rich legacy of nurturing and launching the careers of some of the most renowned comedic talents in the industry. From its humble beginnings as a small, unassuming club, Zanies has grown into a revered institution, revered for its commitment to the art of stand-up comedy and its unwavering support for both local and national performers.

Stepping into Zanies is like taking a trip back in time, with its vintage-inspired decor, intimate atmosphere, and the distinctive brick wall that serves as a backdrop for the stage. The cozy venue is designed to foster a connection between the audience and the performer, creating a uniquely immersive comedic experience. To complement the laughs, Zanies offers a full-service bar and a snack menu, ensuring that patrons are well-fed and refreshed throughout the show. The club's commitment to maintaining its classic charm, while still providing modern comforts, has solidified its status as a beloved destination for comedy fans.

Over the years, Zanies has played host to a remarkable array of comedians, from stand-up legends like Sebastian Maniscalco, Tony Hinchcliffe and Andrew Schulz. By offering a diverse lineup of both established headliners and up-and-coming talents, Zanies ensures that audiences are treated to a fresh and dynamic comedy experience each time they visit. With its rich history, welcoming atmosphere, and consistently top-notch performances, Zanies Comedy Club remains an essential destination for those seeking a hearty dose of laughter in the heart of Chicago.

Other popular comedy clubs in Chicago include The Comedy Bar and The Comedy Clubhouse.

Live Comedy in Chicago: What To Do

Chicago's love affair with comedy extends far beyond its storied clubs and theaters, as the city comes alive each year with a multitude of comedy festivals that showcase an array of talent from around the globe. These fun-packed events provide a platform for both established and emerging comedians, while offering comedy aficionados a chance to experience the diverse landscape of humor that thrives within the Windy City.

The World Comedy Expo is an annual event that brings together an impressive array of comedians, writers, and industry professionals for a celebration of all things comedy. This multi-day festival offers a wide range of performances, panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities, catering to both seasoned professionals and aspiring talent. With a focus on fostering growth and collaboration within the comedy community, the World Comedy Expo provides a unique platform for comedians to showcase their work, learn from their peers, and explore new opportunities within the ever-evolving world of humor.

The Boom Chicago Comedy Festival is a whirlwind of improv, stand-up, and sketch comedy, featuring an eclectic mix of local, national, and international performers. Set in various venues across the city, this multi-day event offers audiences the chance to explore the vibrant and innovative world of contemporary comedy. From seasoned veterans to breakout stars, the Boom Chicago Comedy Festival boasts a diverse lineup of comedic talent, providing something for every taste and sensibility. With its infectious energy and commitment to pushing the boundaries of comedy, this festival is a must-attend for those looking to discover the next big thing in the world of laughter.

As the largest sketch comedy festival in the nation, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (or SketchFest for short) has been delighting audiences with its unique blend of humor since 2002. Held annually at the historic Stage 773, SketchFest brings together hundreds of performers from across the globe for a week-long celebration of the art of sketch comedy. The festival showcases a wide variety of comedic styles and perspectives, offering a unique platform for both established troupes and up-and-coming talent to shine. With its commitment to championing the creative spirit of sketch comedy, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival has cemented its status as a must-attend event for comedy lovers and performers alike.

Live Comedy in Chicago: Who To See

Chicago, a city renowned for its thriving comedy scene, has been a breeding ground for countless stand-up comedians who have gone on to achieve national and international acclaim. The Windy City's unique blend of grit, warmth, and wit has inspired generations of performers, who have honed their craft on its stages and brought laughter to audiences worldwide.

Born and raised in Chicago, Hannibal Buress has made a name for himself with his unique brand of comedy, characterized by his laid-back delivery, sharp observational humor, and distinctive storytelling style. Buress started his stand-up career in the Windy City, honing his craft in various clubs and open mics before eventually relocating to New York. Despite his move, Buress has maintained a strong connection to his hometown, frequently returning to perform and often referencing his Chicago upbringing in his material. His success has led to numerous television appearances, comedy specials, and even roles in feature films, solidifying his status as one of the leading voices in modern comedy.

Hailing from the Chicago suburb of Western Springs, Cameron Esposito has become a powerful force in the stand-up comedy world. Known for her keen wit, incisive social commentary, and fearless exploration of her own identity, Esposito has used her platform to tackle a variety of topics, ranging from LGBTQ+ rights to politics. After cutting her teeth on Chicago's comedy scene and studying improvisation at the legendary Second City, Esposito moved to Los Angeles to further her career. Despite her relocation, her Chicago roots remain a vital part of her comedic sensibility, as she continues to captivate audiences with her unique perspective and razor-sharp humor.

Though not originally from Chicago, Kumail Nanjiani's journey as a stand-up comedian took flight in the Windy City. After moving to the United States from Pakistan, Nanjiani attended college in Iowa before relocating to Chicago to pursue a career in comedy. It was in Chicago that he discovered his love for stand-up and began making a name for himself with his insightful, personal, and often self-deprecating humor. Nanjiani's time in Chicago proved to be instrumental in shaping his comedic voice, as he went on to achieve great success in both stand-up and acting, including his critically acclaimed film "The Big Sick." His rise to prominence serves as a testament to the power and influence

Live Comedy in Chicago: Humble Beginnings

The early days of stand-up comedy in Chicago were marked by the emergence of dedicated comedy clubs and the passion of trailblazing performers who helped cultivate the city's comedic identity. In the late 1970s, venues like Zanies Comedy Club and The Second City, primarily known for its improvisational roots, began providing a platform for aspiring stand-up comedians to hone their skills and find their voice. Pioneering performers such as Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and Bill Murray frequented Chicago's stages, contributing to the city's growing reputation as a comedy hotspot. These early clubs and the comedians who graced their stages laid the groundwork for Chicago's thriving stand-up comedy scene, fostering a creative environment that would influence generations of performers to come.