Comedy Clubs, Chicago
Last visit June 2011 to the main stage to see "Southside of Heaven" with the VT gang!
The Second City is Chicago's best known comedy club, many of the stars of Saturday Night Live got their start here before going on to SNL and movie careers- John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows and Tina Fey are all alumni.
For weekend nights, it's best to buy tickets in advance, but I have seen reduced price tickets for the late night Friday show at HotTix. You can call the box office for tickets with no added "convenience charge" or book online ($6 convenience charge per ticket). Seating is general admission so arrive a little early to get the best seats. If you are in the front row, there's a possibility that you will become part of the show.
There are three stages, the Main Stage, e.t.c. and Donny's Skybox. The Main Stage and e.t.c have comparable shows, both have a resident troupe that writes/performs an original comedy revue, e.t.c is just a smaller theater. I haven't been to Donny's Skybox, the website says it "features an eclectic mix of student productions as well as other alternative shows".
Revues are usually topical, often political, and takes cracks at subjects like race and religion so it's not for the easily offended. Not appropriate for young children, there is plenty of profanity and sexual humor.
If you are looking for a bit to eat or drinks before or after the show, here are a few choices
Mexican-Adobo Grill at 1610 N. Wells is right next door or Salpicon at 1252 N. Wells is just down the street
French bistrot-Bistrot Margot at 1437 N. Wells
Ribs-Twin Anchors at 1655 N. Sedgwick, not my favorite but other people like it and it's got a long history
Dress Code: Casual dress
Last visit to Comedy Sportz January 2009
In addition to Second City, comedy lovers can go see improv performances at a couple of places in Chicago. I have been to both IO (formerly Improv Olympics) on the northside of Chicago and Comedy Sportz on Belmont in the Lakeview neighborhood.
The premise of ComedySportz is that there are 2 teams competing and the audience gets to yell out suggestions and topics. Yell out a racy topic and you are liable to be called for the brown bag foul and required to wear a paper sack on your head! This is a nice option for families with teens because the humor rarely gets vulgar, we saw lots of kids on our recent visit in January 2009. It appears on the website that there is also a special show for kids 9 and under on Saturdays at 2 pm.
It wasn't crowded at the 6 pm Comedy Sportz show in January but the 8 pm show was sold out. You can reserve tickets at the box office for no additional fee and avoid the Ticketmaster charges. Reduced price tickets can sometimes be found at Hot Tix, regular price tickets are $21, with the Ticketmaster fees the Hottix were $14.75.
After the show, we went to Ala Turka for dinner and the 9 pm belly dancing show which is about a mile away from Comedy Sportz. Metered parking was easy to find at both locations.
Dress Code: Casual dress
The Second City has been in Chicago since 1959, and many famous comedians got their start right here: Mike Myers, Bill Murray, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner, to name a few.
Dress Code: Although there is no age limit, Second City is recommended for mature audiences.
One of the best comedy groups l have seen in a long time. Very unusual and very interesting. The guys have latex covering their heads in blue and had everyone laughing because they neither show emotion or talk. The show is really different and as one American said "It was out of site". One of their acts is to throw marshmallows into each others mouths from a far distance and splash paint onto moving objects with fantastic results. They also play drums and use with all sorts of instruments notably tubes that look like they came from your kitchen sink, strings, drums If you need to laugh this is definitely the show to go to. Watch rolls at the end of the show.
Dress Code: Jeans. They give you wet gear if your sitting near the stage.
Famous for launching the careers of comedy greats like John Belushi, Mike Myers and Bill Murray, Chicago's Second City theater is a small and extremely popular comedy venue. Again, like Steppenwolf, one of our actors also worked here, and recommended it highly. Unfortunately, unlike Steppenwolf, that weekend's production was sold out when we got there. In fact Between Barack and a Hard Place had been sold out long, long before we got there. So long that the ticket seller almost laughed when he realised we weren't collecting tickets, but trying to buy some. He put us on the waiting list for the later performance, as the waiting list for the current was totally full too. We gave up and walked into the nearby Old Town instead.
If you want to go, book ahead. It's very easy to do online at the linked site below.
The UP Comedy Club is in the same building as Second City. I had been seeing discounted tickets for "What the Tour Guide Didn't Tell You" for months and we finally booked tickets through Hottix for a Thursday night.
The space holds 285 people, on a Thursday night it was not crowded but there was a decent size crowd of people considering it wasn't a weekend night. You can get food and drinks here, we had eaten at Adobo Grill next door so we didn't have either food or beverage, unlike some comedy clubs they do not have a drink minimum.
Tickets are cheapest if you find them on Hottix, Goldstar or Living Social, if you for some reason can't find a discounted ticket, buying them at the box office is cheaper than online or phone. Ordering online with Ticketmaster will be the most expensive with a $4.50 ticket fee plus $3 prder charge, calling the box office has a $3 charge
Dress Code: None at all except that you need to wear something
I posted this under off the beaten path too, but this is the best night of stand-up comedy in the city hands down. I don't know what these other people are talking about, Second city doesn't even do stand-up comedy. I came across this show in the Reader, and it was fantastic. I challenge you to find a cooler night of comedy.
Dress Code: Come as you are
Known for its' reputation at feeding into the SNL cast, Second City is one of the finest comedy clubs in the country. Photos of such greats as Bill Murray, Harold Ramos, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner line the walls. The cast is spectacular and there's not a bad seat in the house. Get there early if you want to sit up close.
Want some classic Second City comedy but want it at a reduced price? Then Donny's Skybox is the way to go. At only $10 a pop, that's quite a bargain; these shows tend to be student-produced so you have the potential of being audience to the early career of someone who'll eventually be famous. Some of Americans most famed comedians/comedic actors earned their chops at Second City including many of the cast of SNL, SCTV (Second City Television), and even famous actors:
Amy Sedaris (she's my fave so I list her first)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Saturday Night Live
John Belushi (created infamous "Cheeseburger" skit during his stint in Chicago
Eugene Levy (American Pie movies)
So stop by and keep an eye out for future stars!
We called ahead to purchase tix (312-337-3992) and picked them up at the box office when we arrived; you may also order them on-line (https://chitickets.secondcity.com/Online/).
Photo: May 22, 2009
Dress Code: Casual
So despite the fact that Dane Cook despises Facebook (fans know he's a huge proponent of MySpace), I have to give that website props because that's how I first learned this stoopid comedian was on tour. Immediately I purchased tix (floor seats $100) and ended up being FOURTH ROW aisle seat. I just so happened to be along the aisle that the comedians ran up so I garnered high fives from my favorite comedian both coming and going (one on each hand - wooties - I know, I'm such a spaz).
I've rarely been so stoked in my life! The chick sitting next to me was ecstatic, too. Turns out she's from Kentucky, lives in Lexington, and attends UK (University of Kentucky). I mentioned I used to live on Red Mile Road where my apartment afforded views of the horses exercising in the morning mist on the Red Mile; she lives on Elizabeth, the street that continues from the Red Mile to UK campus and so we hit it off. We were both spazzing over Dane Cook.
My favorite skit of his would have to be his Burger King number (my brother thought HE WAS the Burger KING). Check out this wonderful fusion of Dane Cook audio with Naruto video effects (I love the way the dude synced up the words to the action):
Photos: June 14, 2009
Dress Code: Casual or Dressy
If you want to see some of the best improv and standup comedy, go to The Second City. My friends and I were so impressed with the quality.
A lot of big name comics and comic actors got their start here.
Dress Code: nice, but not fancy.
There are many standup comedy shows, improvisation shows. SO if if you want something else besides the usual nights out, these are fun to go too. The price will range from cheap, if you go to a rehearsal where they try out new shows, up to normal priced shows where you will get the good stuff.