Two of my favorite things in life are eating and comedy. I worked in the food industry for five years, and during that time I gained a new appreciation for food. I used to eat carelessly, but now I respect the hell out of food. I pay attention to ingredients, cooking methods, and I stalk the restaurant scene in Chicago like exes on Instagram. It’s a known fact that the restaurant scene in Chicago is one of the best in the world. There are oodles of amazing restaurants hiding at every corner of this grand city. From Portillo’s to Michelin star restaurants, Chicago has it all. This is not an ad…or is it? Please send checks to 1100 N Dearborn @cityofchicago
Not only does Chicago have some of the best damn restaurants in the world, but we also boast a comedy scene that fellow standups have described as the third best in the country behind New York and Los Angeles. Bus as my dad used to say to me, third place is still pretty good! When people who aren’t involved with the comedy scene want to see comedy, their mind goes straight to Second City and Zanies. Maybe Laugh Factory or Comedy Bar. Those are four big ones, but that’s just scratching the surface. On any given night (or day), you can see a standup comedy show in a theater, a club, a speakeasy, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a bar, the basement of a bar, the back room of a bar, an apartment, a business or workplace. So. many. shows. I’ve become the authority on restaurants and comedy in my lil friend group, so I thought it’d be fun to put together a list of restaurants and comedy show pairs that I think anyone with taste buds and a sense of humor would enjoy.
The restaurant: For a quick pre-show bite, might I recommend Crisp for their delectable Korean wings and Buddha Bowls. I’ve been twice and both times I got my own order of wings. There are 12 wings in one order, so unless your name is Michael Phelps, I would split them. It’s a small space with limited seating so I wouldn’t go with your entire squad. It is BYOB, but if you’re not drinking they sell bottled soda, including Jarritos, which takes me back to elementary school Spanish class, where my Spanish name was “Cristina.”
The show: Verified Laughs is a weekly show every Wednesday at The Laugh Factory. The show combines comedy and social media in the form of a competition. #cool. Five comics go head to head to head to head to head with their tightest five minutes. Then after all five have performed the audience and anyone following the show on social media vote for their favorite. While voting is open, a headliner closes out the show. The votes are tallied and at the end of the show, a winner is pronounced “Verified” a la Twitter and Instagram and the others are losers.
The restaurant: The name alone (Funkenhausen) should be enough reason to check out this new(ish) spot in West Town. You shouldn’t have trouble finding it because there’s an enormous neon sign in the window. I ate there a few months and the whole experience, from start to finish, was memorable; however, the food is where Funkyhausen shines. The menu draws on German and Southern influences, with both schnitzel and seafood on the dinner menu. There are also a number of vegan options because this is West Town after all, and they try to source their vegetables from local farms. I know that cause I read it on the menu online. I’d like to go back for Funkenbrunch! Who wants to go with me?
The show: Just down the street from Funkenhausen is Beauty Bar where you can catch Tuxedo Cat Comedy every Thursday at 8. This is the only show in Chicago where you can get pampered while watching comedy and drinking a martini. After the show, stick around for a dance party to dance away the stress of the week. You won’t regret it. Just try not to ruin your mani like I did.
The restaurant: If you haven’t been to Parson’s, please don’t speak to me until you have. They have two locations – one in Logan Square for the hipsters and one in Lincoln Park for the bros. The Lincoln Park location is bigger, but Logan Square is much more focused on the outdoor setup. The patio is always bumping on nice days. Fish is the specialty here, but if fish isn’t your thing the chicken is bomb too. I usually order a fish sandwich and hush puppies (to share) with either a negroni slushie or a cold beer. They have an “extra crispy, extra mellow” golden ale brewed exclusively for them by local hipster brewery, Revolution. It’s almost too drinkable. I had eight last time I went and I’m not sure I’m allowed back. Enjoy your food under the shade of their cute as fuck red and white striped umbrellas. You might even meet a dog while you’re there!
The show: I’m biased because I am a producer, but Hidden Comedy Show really is a smash hit. It takes place every Friday night at nine in the back room of The Hidden Shamrock on Halsted. It’s a great space with good beer and chicken fingers that have saved my life on more than one occasion. The waitstaff and bartenders couldn’t be nicer. (Shoutout to Cole, Alberto, Amanda and the owner, Jeff). The show is typically about an hour and a half and features three to five feature acts and one headliner. The best part about it? It’s FREE and we give each audience member a shot before the show starts. After the show ends, a lot of people stick around to mingle and drink (more). If you’re looking to shake up your Friday night and try something new, a comedy show like this is a great option.
The restaurant: The Delta in Wicker Park is the shit. Plain and simple. I like taking friends, family, dates, pretty much everyone there. It’s like letting them in on a little secret, and a tasty one at that. My hope in bringing them is that they will bring their friends, and their friends will bring their friends and so on. The restaurant embodies the spirit of the Mississippi Delta. The decor, music, and menu are an ode to the region. From the outside, it looks very unassuming and cute, but step inside and you’ll hear loud music, usually hip hop, and lots of positive energy. My favorite time to go to The Delta is on a weekend about an hour or so before closing. It’s when the music is loudest and the staff is goofiest. I like to belly up to the bar and listen to the bartenders deal out some high-quality shit-talking over a Smashley (vodka, elderflower, lemon, cucumber syrup, mint).
The show: Every first Saturday, comedians flood the streets and make their way to The Hideout for Late Late Breakfast. This show has been going strong for five years, and it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with a loved one or alone. It’s not a typical standup comedy show…its better. What makes it better? Oh I don’t know, maybe FLUFFY BISQUICK PANCAKES PREPARED WITH LOVE BY A COMEDIAN IN STREET CLOTHES. Yep, the show provides free pancakes. Here’s how the show works: ten comedians are selected to be on the show. When it’s their turn, they come onstage and pop a balloon to find out which game they will be playing. Each show has a theme so the games will relate to this theme in some way. Last month it was art. The month prior it was fairytales. Here’s the catch – the comic must play the game while also doing their usual set. And let me tell you, it’s really hard to focus when the audience is firing nerf guns at you or Smash Mouth’s mega-hit “All Star” is playing and the audience has to sing out loud when the chorus starts.