Have you ever wanted to be a cowboy? Probably not, but to some people pursuing comedy seems just about as practical as the latter. Chicago is like the wild west of comedy: self policed and self produced, we make the rules. Chicago’s underground comedy scene can be difficult to navigate without some help, so I have compiled a list of open mics that are not just newer-comic-friendly, but the most fun and best run. If you’ve been wanting to try it out, here is your cheat sheet…
One of the most innovative, friendly, fun and supportive rooms I’ve frequented. Ever Mainard & Rasa Gierstikas hosts. There are prizes to be won for first time comics to the room and to the coveted “Best joke” winner voted by the audience. Sign up at 7:30, roll call at 8.
3160 Comedy Cabaret
3160 N Clark
This Open Mic is slowly gathering steam. Located right off the Belmont Redline stop, the open mic has revolving guest hosts. It houses a very intimate crowd and the sign up is a raffle, which is a nice change of pace. You don’t need to get there super early to ensure a good spot on the list. It’s a very attentive, intimate and fair room. It is slowly becoming a must if you’re on the north side.
The Globe Pub Open Mic
1634 Irving Pk. Road
This open mic has been around since I’ve been doing comedy; it can be a very fun room. The night is hosted by Martin Morrow currently.
Lottie’s open mic is always a full house; sign up is at 8pm. This room is fun for a number of reasons: the host, Michael Joyce, is lively and keeps the crowd attentive and respectful. A plus side to the room, there is an occasional guest host to switch up the monotony who is always a choice veteran of the Chicago comedy scene.
The Gutter Mouth Open Mic at Seven Ten Lounge
2747 N Lincoln ave
Hosted by Chicago’s own Bill Cruz, this is another raffle open mic. Housing a diverse range of comics from all over Chicago-land in an intimate living room-esque performance area, you can really feel the room listening. The signup is from 8-8:30 with a random draw at 8:30.
Cole’s Bar Open Mic
2338 N Milwaukee
Named Chicago’s best open mic, hosted by Cameron Esposito and Adam Burke. This open mic is one of the best places for first time comics to perform for what seems a scary amount of people. Delightfully decorated and an always energetic room, sign up at 7:30, start up at 9:30.
This open mic is always packed into the upstairs of Will’s; each comic performing gets a complimentary shot & 4 minutes. Hosted by David Drake and Reena Calm, the room is both playful and supportive. It is not uncommon to see a wide variety of stand-up comedians along with Improv actors. Sign up is at 7:30, starts at 8:30.
Ace Bar Open Mic
1505 W Fullerton
This open mic is a new breed. Starting later than most mics makes, it’s easy to get out to, and the room really has a “word of mouth” appeal. This mic is hosted by Eliot Rahal, who is a blossoming comic book writer, and Nate Burrows, who is known for quick skits to start off the Mic. Each comic performing gets a PBR and a shot as well as 4-5 minutes to perform. Signup at 9, kick off at 10pm.