Among the country’s most esteemed comedy and improv clubs, the Second City has been a Chicago institution since 1959. Famous alumni range from Bill Murray and John Candy to Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Stephen Colbert. The Second City hosts performances across three different stages, including the adjacent Up Comedy Club.
An early pioneer of the improv comedy scene, the Second City got its start in 1959 when the Compass Players, an innovative local comedy troupe, established their own venue. The Second City became known for its satirical and political viewpoint, and for blending improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy. In addition to its Chicago headquarters, it also operates theaters in Toronto and Los Angeles. Its alumni represent many of the comedy world’s biggest stars, including Saturday Night Live cast members and movie stars, from Steve Carrell and Dan Aykroyd to Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong.
The Second City regularly features on comedy-themed Chicago itineraries. It’s also easy to book tickets to its performances online, before you travel.
Things to know before you go
- You can buy show tickets online, at the on-site box office, or over the phone.
- The theater’s 1959 Kitchen & Bar is open nightly, and offers a range of fresh, hearty dishes.
- The venue is generally kept chilly, so it’s advised to bring a jacket or layers.
- Children under 10 are not permitted, and children aged 10–17 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Unlike many comedy clubs, the Second City’s theaters have no drink-minimum policy.
- The Second City’s venues are all fully accessible to wheelchair users.
How to get there
The Second City—including its main space, as well as the adjacent Up Comedy Club—is located in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. If using the El, take the Brown Line to Sedgwick station, located just a few blocks away; the venue is also served by several bus lines, including the 22, 36, and 151. Alternatively it can be reached on foot, by taxi, or by bike.
When to get there
The Second City hosts shows across its various performance spaces daily; hours vary depending on the programming, so it’s worth researching your specific showtimes in advance. The 1959 Kitchen & Bar is open late afternoon and evening seven days a week.
Other Top Comedy Clubs
Chicago is a dream city for comedy lovers, and the Second City is just one of many worthy local haunts. Other popular stops include the iO Theater in River North, the Laugh Factory in Lake View, and Under the Gun Theater in Lake View.
- Chicago History Museum
- Lincoln Park & Zoo
- Lincoln Monument
- Lincoln Park Conservatory
- 360 Chicago Observation Deck (Formerly John Hancock Observatory)
- Lookingglass Theatre Company
- Water Tower Place
- Driehaus Museum
- Hard Rock Cafe Chicago
- Pizzeria Uno
- Biograph Theater
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