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Amateur Night: Best Places To Take The Stage In Chicago

Do your friends keep telling you you have what it takes to try stand-up comedy, or that you should perform your latest song outside of your garage? If so, then you should check out the following list of venues that host open mic nights. Whether you're a musician, poet or comedian, there's a place for you. From the city to the suburbs, the Chicago area offers several places for you to try out your latest material. Sorry karaoke fans; you’re on your own.

Gallery Cabaret

The Gallery Cabaret
2020 N. Oakley Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 489-5471

Dust off your poetry journal, grab your ukulele and head to Gallery Cabaret. This venue, located in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, offers open mic nights for musicians, poets and comedians throughout the month. Gallery Cabaret encourages participants to perform original works. For instance, Alen’s Open Mic on Sundays at 7 p.m. requires that at least one of the two songs performed is original. The comedy open mic event is held on select dates every month, with the next open mic scheduled for Friday, May 17 at 7 p.m. Poets can get in on the action, too, with the next poetry open mic scheduled for Wednesday, May 22 at 7 p.m.

Overflow Coffee Bar
1550 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 772-2356

Date: June 14, 2013, with sign up at 6 p.m.

Get your creative juices flowing with the open mic night at Overflow Coffee Bar in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. In addition to poetry, comedy and music, Overflow encourages participants to bring paintings, perform a short sketch or dance, so get ready to bust a move or show off your acting chops. Participants are limited to presentations of five minutes or fewer, and sign-up starts at 6 p.m. with the open mic starting at 7 p.m. Stick around for some coffee, tea or pastries from Overflow after your set, too.

Two Way Street

Last Thursday
Two Way Street
1047 Curtiss St.
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 969-9720

Date: May 30, 2013 at 7 p.m.

Two Way Street’s “Last Thursday” event is a way for high school and college students to share their poetry, short sketch or latest song in 10 minutes or fewer. Sign-up starts at 7 p.m., and performances are on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning at 7:30 p.m. Don’t bring an entire orchestra to perform with you, though, as the venue space is small and is ideal for soloists or small groups. For a list of stipulations, check out the site for Last Thursday. Two Way Street is located inside the First Congregational United Church of Christ and it offers a selection of coffee, tea and pastries for sale.

Related: Best Poetry Events In Chicago

Vaughan’s Pub Lakeview
2917 N. Sheffield Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 281-8188

Date: Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.

Sometimes, you just want to jam while relaxing in an Irish pub. If that’s the case, then Vaughan’s Pub in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood is for you. The pub hosts an open jam session, and all acoustic musicians are welcomed to perform. The fun starts at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, and all musicians must be at least 21. While you’re waiting to perform, settle your nerves and check out the pub’s extensive beer menu, which features a mix of both imports and domestics, including some selections from local breweries. Vaughan’s also offers typical pub fare, including sandwiches, salads and pizzas.

Will’s Northwoods Inn
3030 N. Racine St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 528-4400

Date: Sundays, sign up is at 7 p.m., start time is 8 p.m.

If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at stand-up comedy, now is your chance to see if you have what it takes. Located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, Will’s Northwoods Inn features a weekly open mic night for both established and wannabe comedians. Sign-up starts at 7 p.m. and the laughs start at 8 p.m. Don’t plan for a long routine, though, as each comedian is limited to about four minutes. The show is free to both participants and the audience. While you’re waiting, make sure to check out Will’s menu of burgers, soups, salads and appetizers.

Related: Best Open Mic Comedy In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I'm a Trader Joe's Fan. Her work can be found at

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