Second City

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Second City With a list of alums that includes everyone from Bill Murray and Jon Belushi to Steve Carell and Tina Fey, Second City is undeniably one of the most influential comedy theaters in the country. Chicago United States 41.911525 -87.634917
4.61 15
Second City - Comedy Club in Chicago.
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Party Earth Review With a list of alums that includes everyone from Bill Murray and Jon Belushi to Steve Carell and Tina Fey, Second City is undeniably one of the most influential comedy theaters in the country. Founded in 1959 by a small... ... read full review

  • Train:

    Brown, Purple Express Lines: Sedgwick

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  • Hours:

    Show times: Mainstage Tu–Th 8pm, F–Sa 8pm and 11pm, Su 7pm
    E.T.C. (smaller stage) Th 8pm, F–Sa 8pm and 11pm, Su 7pm
    Best of Second City M 8pm, Sa 4pm

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth Second City Review

The Scene

With a list of alums that includes everyone from Bill Murray and Jon Belushi to Steve Carell and Tina Fey, Second City is undeniably one of the most influential comedy theaters in the country.

With a list of alums that includes everyone from Bill Murray and Jon Belushi to Steve Carell and Tina Fey, Second City is undeniably one of the most influential comedy theaters in the country.

Founded in 1959 by a small group of University of Chicago students, the prolific club and its nightly menu of comics, laughs, and drinks still attract a varied crowd of young professionals, college students, out-of-towners, and laid-back couples looking for a roll-in-the-aisle good time.

Theater lovers, hipsters, and newbies alike settle into the larger Mainstage space for beer, snacks, and a mix of scripted and improv performances, which feature the resident performers poking fun at Chicago and making political – albeit politically incorrect – jokes.

Patrons who like a more intimate experience head to the slightly smaller E.T.C. stage, where the club’s resident cast covers a somewhat broader range of topics, though the format is usually the same.

All year round, the theater puts on a “Best of Second City” show featuring well-versed actors performing some of the club’s most famous and popular skits, while summer months draw post-grad couples and girlfriends out for walking tours of Old Town, led and narrated by one of the comedy club’s resident actors.

One of Chicago’s most recognized hotspots, Second City is sure to tickle anyone’s funny bone.

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Tip from Emma:

Don’t leave right after the show ends! The actors usually do live improv for another forty-five minutes or so afterwards. Some of it can be funnier than the show itself, so it’s definitely worth sticking around for.

  • Crowd

    Mix of young professionals, hipster couples, artsy types, theater fanatics, actors, upscale finance types, well-dressed business people, older couples, and families, early 20s to 40s+.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Live comedy shows nightly. Check website for details. For first-time visitors, The Second City recommends catching a Mainstage performance.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Light bar fare available in the theater during shows. Dinner & Show packages available at a number of nearby restaurants, including Bistro Margot, Fireplace Inn, and Marcello’s. Reservations can be made through the Second City Box Office.

  • Prices

    Mainstage and E.T.C. shows $22–$27, Best of Second City $16–$22. Small bites $6–$10, sandwiches and pizza $7–$15. Beer $5–$9, wine $6–$9, cocktails $6–$12.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Casual to business casual: suits, slacks, blouses, jeans, t-shirts, polos.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Anytime there’s a show of interest, Thursdays through Saturdays for the Mainstage performances, summer Sundays and Wednesdays for walking tours, and various nights for touring company shows.

  • Close By

    Other nearby performance venues include Red Orchid (1531 North Wells Street) and Tony ‘n' Tina's Wedding (230 West North Avenue).

Second City User Reviews

Average rating:
Add to your Bucket List!
Karen G. Jun 19, 2013
The beginning home stage of many familiar names such as Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey among many many others. This live performance is an event everybody should experience if they are passing through Chicago. It's hosted in a very cozy venue where no matter where you sit (seats are first come first serve), you are right there in the moment (especially in the front row, it get's up close and personal.) This show is well worth the price at about $20-$30 give or take a couple bucks for three hours of hilarious entertainment. The show is about two hours but the last hour is an improv session where the cast practices sketches they have been working on. These gave me a full ab workout from laughter. Such a great idea for a date night, a girl's night out, or just a casual night out. Grab a drink, maybe a snack, sit back and enjoy the show.
Consider it a "must see"
Christopher A. Apr 22, 2013
Second City is a Chicago staple from which many of our most famous Chicagoans have risen. It's a perfect place for a date or to enjoy with friends. Known as a stepping stone to TV's Saturday Night Live, Second City provides a more intimate, unique, and honestly more fun to watch show. Stick around for the improv after the show, it can often be the best part. There's something about a seeing live performance in person. The actors feed off the crowd and interact with them which really makes for a great show. At Second city you really get what you expect (expect more than your average improv club, this is the big leagues). You can eat and drink here and they're both good and reasonably priced. They take carding pretty seriously for all of you under-agers out there. Order a drink, order food, and sit back and enjoy the show. So go, see a show and you'll be glad you did, this place is definitely a Chicago "must see". This is a good place to start the night since you'll be leaving invigorated with a comedy buzz.
Great Night Out
Will M. Jan 22, 2013
Second City is stacked with improv and sketch comedy gold. Its consistency in comedy proves why it's become a beloved Chicago tradition. Start times vary based on the day and show, so it can be a great start to a night out in Chicago with friends, or an entertaining date-night alternative. Regardless of who you bring to the show, Second City won't disappoint. It's hilarious and witty, with shows that appeal to all types of humor. With multiple stages in one building, it can get a little crammed, so make sure you show up early otherwise you may end up with an obstructed view. The plus to having multiple stages though is that they are constantly rotating shows throughout the year, so there's always something new to bring you back for another great night out.
An Institution
Brett C. Dec 27, 2012
I love Second City! I’ve been coming here whenever I’m in town since I was in middle school. Second City has been a great source of talent for Saturday Night Live since the show began, and it’s easy to see why. Pictures of famous alums from both of Second City Chicago’s troupes (Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Farley, etc.) adorn the walls, and make you wonder if anyone that you’ll be seeing will be gracing their walls in the coming years. A Second City show strongly resembles an episode of SNL (though without the production value) with a barrage of hilarious sketches. Each show is followed by a round of improv comedy by the performers, which is definitely worth sticking around for. The talent level is always high here, making it one of Chicago’s premiere homes of comedy and an institution in the Windy City. Check it out if you’re looking for a night of laughs.
A Chicago Highlight
Craig B. Dec 11, 2012
Second City is awesome. I've been to both stages and have never been disappointed. The revues are hilarious, but make sure you stick around after it's over for some improv games. This is where Second City really shines. The comedians are funny, sure, but they are smart and incredibly quick. I'd like to think it's too bad they keep getting snatched up by New York, but honestly, good for them. Also, try the tour. You wander the few blocks being regaled with funny stories about the neighborhood, about Second City participants past and present, and about Chicago as a whole. It's a great experience.
Don't miss it!
Christina W. Dec 10, 2012
If you are a visitor to Chicago, you absolutely must add this to your list of must-sees. And if you live in Chicago and somehow haven’t made it here yet, you absolutely have to. I was in that latter category for such a long time, and once I finally saw a show there I wanted to go back constantly. The most important thing to know is that the shows are hilarious. On top of that, they are unique, cheeky, and often very Chicago-specific, which is fun for both locals and tourists because you tend to learn fun tidbits about the city while at the same time laughing your ass off. Best part is the setup: it’s cabaret-style, so you are seated at tiny round tables and they do full service drinks and food throughout the show. Absolutely a must-do!
Laughter etc
Stéphanie T. Dec 3, 2012
Though there is a crazy wide offer on improv comedy shows and clubs, the Second City is a must ! several shows are on at the same time, making the decision of what to see hard. The last show I have seen “what the tour guide didn’t tell you” what a perfect mix of comedy, improve, and music. Perfect witty show. The cast was hilarious and my friends and I could not stop cry with laughter. Food is available but nothing special. At the end of the show, we had some extra performance as the cast was trying out stuff from an upcoming show. The sample was freakin hilarious as well. I will definitely go back at the Second City next time I hit Chicago!
Kaile K. Nov 29, 2012
Second City is a must go to if you are visiting Chicago. I've never laughed so hard in my life! The actors are amazing, its easy to see how so many famous comedians got their start here. The venue has a great atmosphere too. Definitely try to catch a show (or two) when you are in Chicago.
Great Improv
Gregor G. Oct 4, 2012
Spent the evening doubled over with laughter! Improvisational troupe had impeccable timing - very clever and quick witted. Lots of topical humor. Club is conveniently located near lots of restaurants - I'm particular fond of deep dish pizza, so was easy to be happy. For some, while the snacks and bar fare are decent here, you might be better off getting a good meal elsewhere and just ordering drinks here. No matter how you put it together, this is one of the best options out there for a fun evening in Chicago!
Can't go wrong with the Main and e.t.c. stages
Nick T. Aug 31, 2012
Right up there with Wrigley for must-go places in Chicago. I have walked out of every Second City show I've ever been to impressed, barring my one experience at Donny's Skybox which was a major bummer. If I had to choose between the Main stage and e.t.c. I would have to pick e.t.c. because it seems those shows have more improv, however, it varies a good deal from show to show. It always blows my mind at how inexpensive the tickets are despite the opportunity to be at such an intimidate show with such talented comedians, but I'm not complaining. I would - and do - recommend this show to everyone.
Consistently great, impeccable timing and wit
Chris M. Aug 5, 2012
Though many Second City alum move on to SNL which is wildly inconsistent in quality, the rotating ensembles at 1616 N. Wells turn in consistently funny performances. The hallmarks of Second City comedy include timely satire, devilish wit, and timing refined throughout the run of the show. The sketches are all born from improv and are continuously sharpened to hit the laugh lines well and it pays off. Tickets are reasonably priced and seating is essentially first come, first served. After each scripted show on the mainstage there is a an improv set that is usually pretty good as well. Second City has several stages, the mainstage, the e.t.c. and Donny's Skybox. If the show you want to see sells out, just keep walking upstairs and eventually you will find some comedy. The mainstage is a highly competitive troupe selected from the best improv and sketch performers in the city. The e.t.c. typically has shows by Second City students that have been selected for the Conservatory program. Donny's Skybox has more experimental shows that can be put up by just about any group of Second City students. Even when the shows upstairs are bad, the atmosphere is always fun with the performers pouring their heart into their comedy passion. It can be easy to go for a couple years without making it back to Second City with all of Chicago's entertainment options but it is worth coming back regularly.
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