9 Comedians Born and Raised in Chicago
Chicago is a tried and true comedy city. I mean, do we even have to prove this? If one more iO or Second City alum joins SNL, they might as well edit the intro line to “Live from New York by way of Chicago… it’s Saturday night!” As a Chicagoland boy, I’m used to bragging about the likes of Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert, and more beginning their careers in the Windy City. We’ve even done it ourselves on the TodayTix Insider about a year ago! So I set out to find 9 funny folks that not only started their career in Chi-Town, but actually grew up in and around Chicago.
1. Cecily Strong
Photo Credit: Dale May
Now we know that Cecily was one of those Second City alums that made their way to SNL, but did you know she was born and raised in Oak Park, IL just outside of Chicago? In fact, she even spent her senior year of high school at the Chicago Academy of the Arts. After college at CalArts, she knew her home city was the best for launching comedy careers. She quickly rose to the famous funny lady we know today with the help of Second City, the all-female iO team Virgin Daquiri, and a couple performances at the Goodman and Mercury theatres along the way.
2. Hannibal Buress
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Born and raised in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Hannibal Buress used make the four our trip to the city from Souther Illinois University in Carbondale to perform at comedy clubs. Legend has it, he was granted a chance to perform at Zanies after begging to go on in place of an opener who didn’t show up. Fast forward a few years and he’s a co-star on The Eric Andre Show landing roles in television and film left and right.
3. Jane Lynch
Photo Credit: Getty Images
She took the teenage world by storm as Coach Sue Sylvestor on Glee, but before hitting it big as a famous comic actor, Jane Lynch started out in Chicago. Raised in Dolton, IL, she returned to Chicago after school to act at Steppenwolf for 15 years. To hone her comedy skills, she did shows at the Annoyance Theatre and was one of only two women at the time of her audition selected to join Second City.
4. Joan Cusack
Photo Credit: NBC
There must be something funny in the water of the Chicago suburbs. And Joan Cusack was definitely drinking it when she was growing up in Evanston, IL. The celebrity television and film actress is well known for her roles in Shameless, School of Rock, and In and Out did a brief stint on SNL in the ’80s pictured above. She is a graduate of Evanston Township High School (Go Wildkits!) and still lives in Chicago today, though now in the city proper rather than the ‘burbs.
5 and 6. John and Jim Belushi
Photo Credit: Universal Studios and jimbelushi.ws
John and Jim Belushi were both born and raised in Humboldt Park, Chicago and got their comedy start as Second City performers back in the ’70s. Following Second City, John went on to become one of the first ever cast members of SNL and younger brother Jim made a career in TV and film galore. While John left us far too soon in 1982, Jim helped carry on the Belushi name in comedy and can be seen most recently in the reboot Twin Peaks.
7. Jill Soloway
Photo Credit: Variety
You may not know Jill’s face, but you probably know their hit comedy-drama show Transparent about to enter it’s fourth season on Amazon. Before making it big as a writer, this Chicago-born, non-binary artist created comedy shows with their sister Faith at the Annoyance Theatre including The Miss Vagina Pageant and The Real Live Brady Bunch.
8. Cameron Esposito
Photo Credit: Mandee Johnson
This Chicago native comedian started her career as a regular at Lincoln Lodge from 2007 to 2011. Cameron’s fame grew when she started making guest appearances on comedy talk shows like The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Chelsea Lately. She gained a lot of internet attention with her hilarious “Ask a Lesbian” video on Buzzfeed in 2014.
9. Bill Murray
Photo Credit: WGN
Okay. I’m ashamed that it took until the Cubs won the World Series in 2016 for me to realize that Bill Murray was from Chicago. You’d be hard to miss that die-hard Cubs fan brimming with emotions during those final games. This comedy titan raised in the northern ‘burb of Wilmette embodies classic Midwest charm, always stopping for photos with fans. Of course he got his start making folks laugh at Second City back in the early ’70s.
Ta-da! We did it. 9 comedians who were born, raised, and started their career in the great city of Chicago. So get out there and start laughing! Celebrate Comedy Month with TodayTix and nab laughs with no-fees to any stand-up, sketch, or improv show in the city through the end of August. Maybe you’ll even find love in a Chi-Town comedy club like Kumail Nanjiani did (as told in his recent movie The Big Sick!). If you don’t, you’re at least guaranteed a great time laughing your face off with other Chicagoans.