Who hasn’t made a new year’s resolution like eating healthy, exercising more or spending less time on your phone, only to abandon these plans in early January?

Laughing more is a resolution that’s easy to keep especially with comedy recommendations from some of the funniest comedians in Chicago. Throughout 2019, we asked local stand-up, sketch and improv artists about their favorite live shows, specials, albums and more.

Check out their hilarious suggestions below and head over to our monthly Chi-Town Comedy Chats column to learn more about some of Chicago’s most popular comedians.

Gena Gephart Recommends – “Derry Girls”

Gena Gephart

I’m obsessed with “Derry Girls” on Netflix. I love that. It’s like naughty teen girls in Northern Ireland in the ’90s. That’s been my favorite show that I’ve seen in a while. It’s also kind of heartfelt. I love “Derry Girls.” Of the comedy that I’ve seen recently, that’s got to be my favorite. It has a really big female cast, so that’s cool, too.

Taneshia “Just Nesh” Rice Recommends – “The Comedy Bible” and Laugh Factory

Taneshia 'Just Nesh' Rice
Photo by Mike Jue

If anyone is interested in starting stand-up comedy, I recommend them to get “The Comedy Bible” by Judy Carter. It is an amazing book for people who either want to write comedy or perform stand-up. It’s a great kick-off guide.

Here in Chicago definitely check out the Laugh Factory. It’s a super dope comedy club and it gets comedians from all over the country. It’s just a real good time.

Tracy DeGraaf Recommends – “The Kids are Alright,” Rocky LaPorte and Michael Isaac

Tracy DeGraafThere’s a show I’ve been watching on TV that cracks me up. It’s called “The Kids are Alright.” It’s about an Irish Catholic family in the ’50s or something, so they have 10 or 11 boys. Of course, it resonates with me because it’s chaos and it’s so funny. The mom on there is so angry all the time. She cracks me up.

Of course, I like to support live comedy as well. Rocky LaPorte is a local comedian who went to the finals of “Last Comic Standing,” so I try to go to his events when I can. And my friend Michael Isaac has a special coming up in May. I like to support local comics because I know how hard it is to do (laughs).

Meredith Kachel Recommends – Lincoln Lodge, Schubas Open Mic and More
Meredith Kachel
Lincoln Lodge. You can’t go wrong with Lincoln Lodge and it’s on the weekend, which is what people really want. If you want to go to a mic – if this is something you are reading because you want to start performing – head over to Schubas on Mondays and Tyler Snodgrass will take care of you.

Megan Stalter Recommends – The Three Busy Debras, Sarah Sherman and More

Megan StalterThe Three Busy Debras have a show in development that is going to be amazing. Those girls are so funny. I love them and they’re so sweet. They have a show that’s going to be on Adult Swim. And also Sarah Sherman, who’s one of my best friends, has a comedy short infomercial “Flayaway” on Adult Swim that is so good.

Stephanie Weber Recommends – The Paper Machete, Derry Queen and More

Stephanie Weber comedian
Photo by Sarah Larson

Besides my own shows, I recommend The Paper Machete, and I love everything that Derry Queen is doing right now. Derry Queen is a drag comedian who is doing this show – I think at The Hideout mostly – and it’s so much fun. They perform all over the place, and that’s a comedian I would watch.

Soli Santos Recommends – The Kates and Las Locas

Soli Santos
Photo courtesy of Soli Santos

I’m going to be biased and I’m going to go local because I think it’s the foundation of people starting out. Also, I’m pro all-women shows so you’ve got The Kates. If you want to go to Las Locas, do it, even though I’m no longer a co-producer of that show with my busy schedule, but I would say support local. Support any of those comedy shows. They’re fun and they’re relaxing and they’re cheap. If you want to hang out, do something different and not spend a lot of money, that’s the way to go.

Carly Ballerini Recommends – Wanda Sykes, Maria Bamford and Fortune Feimster

Photo courtesy of Carly Ballerini

A special that I think is amazing and got almost no play was the new Wanda Sykes special. It was wonderful and nobody was talking about it. Go watch that right now. She’s so good. She’s a master. I feel like she’s very popular, but I think she’s not even popular enough.

I feel the same way about Maria Bamford and all of the amazing people. Oh and Fortune Feimster is so funny and I feel like not a ton of people know about her.

Rima Parikh Recommends – CAMP, CHUC and More

Rima ParikhCAMP on Mondays is really great, CHUC [Chicago Underground Comedy] on Tuesdays, CYSK [Comedians You Should Know] on Wednesdays. There are so many good shows. I’m trying to think of things that aren’t basic answers that everyone has said to you 18 times (Laughs). AJ’s [Marroquin] show Deluxe Editions he’s done at Schubas. AJ is so funny. He’s like insane and everyone should follow him on all social media platforms.

Adrienne Brandyburg Recommends – JUGs, CYSK and More

Adrienne Brandyburg (photographed by Sara Larson)
Photo by Sara Larson

You should go to Zanies. That’s a solid club to go to, and Laugh Factory. And, of course, of course, go see Comedians You Should Know.

I love Ali Wong. I love Zainab Johnson. Chloe Hilliard is coming out with her special. I love all of her work. Her special is called Big D*ck Energy or something like that. That’s how we’re doing it, Big D*ck Energy, baby (Laughs). JUGs – Just Us Gals – that’s one of my favorite shows to do for sure, and The Green Mill. I love all of these places, come on.

Carly Kane Recommends – The Paper Machete

Carly Kane - Photo by Sara Larson
Photo by Sara Larson

The Paper Machete on Saturdays is one of the coolest things to see if you’re from out of town. It’s comedians, and it’s essayists, and it’s just so Chicago. It’s the perfect way to spend your Saturday. Get brunch and go to The Paper Machete.

Click here to read full interviews with the above mentioned comedians. Here’s to more local laughs in 2020!


Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...