Best Place for Stand-Up by Everybody and Their Grandmother, Free of Charge

Cole's open mike

Critics' Picks

If you want to see 50-odd (and 50 odd) aspiring comics in one night without paying a cent of admission or fighting your way through north-side streets packed with yelping trixies and beer bros, you can't beat the Wednesday open mike at Cole's Bar in Logan Square. Started and originally hosted by stand-ups Cameron Esposito and Adam Burke (another stand-up, Ken Witzgall, has now taken over as MC), the backroom show supplies a friendly, supportive environment in which comics of every type and skill level can take the stage for three minutes and hone their craft. There's a wonderful mix, with grandmas talking about topical stuff like Monica Lewinsky, college guys attempting to mine humor out of their adventures in pornography, and the occasional name act like Tim Meadows or Hannibal Buress popping in to try out new material. It's a terrific place to see comics improve over time, and even when the material bombs, it's still more enjoyable than 95 percent of what gets classified as "entertainment." The place gives you an appreciation for the obsessive work and insane bravery needed to get up and tell jokes.