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Chicago, IL 60610
A Chicago institution, this is the only spot in the city where nationally known comics perform.
Like most old-style comedy clubs (Zanies has been around since 1978), the 125-seat space sometimes suffers a sardine-can feel. But get there early and you can score one of the small tables against the wall. Lacquered-wood tables, smoky air and old head shots on the walls lend a lost-in-the-1970s ambiance, but a close look at the famous comics in those pictures will quickly dispel any sarcastic thoughts.
The featured performers are better than the club's goofy moniker might suggest. Some big-name acts like Gilbert Gottfried have appeared, as have Chicago favorites like Steve Johnson, Tim Joyce and Mike Lukas. The crowd is about half tourists and half locals; a two-drink minimum and low-key atmosphere ensure that everyone will be pretty receptive to whoever's on stage.