Chicago’s Open-Mic Festival is the playoffs and World Series of open mics … and it’s free!

November is a season of championships and it’s not just the Cubs. Beginning Sunday, November 6, Chicago celebrates its Third Annual Open-Mic Festival. The competition takes place over five nights at twenty-one venues. It’s a unique opportunity for comedians and comedy fans. Festival producer David Gavri expects at least fifty comedians at each open mic, each performing a four-minute set.

David has created a unique and intriguing judging system, too. Judges attend each mic incognito. Their identity is so secret that some judges are not even judges – they may be decoys without realizing it. As David says, this system ensures “everything checked and balanced.” To add to the excitement, bookers and agents from Chicago’s top comedy clubs will be in the audience.

So like all championships, it must be expensive to participate and attend!

Not at all! This is Chicago, where reverence for comedy, comedians and their fans are priorities. Every show is free to the public and there is no application fee for comedians.

The Festival’s grand finale is Best of the Fest on Thursday, November 10 at Gallery Cabaret. That night, comedians selected by the secret judges will compete. Winners will be invited to perform on some of Chicago’s most prestigious stages.  As David reports, last year’s winners Kristen Lundberg, Brandon Kieffer, Oscar Carvajal, Josh Chuboff and Mike Robinson have all been killing it since their victory. (“Translation: they have been so successful since then.”)

Also expect extra energy and warmth between the competitors. David says that, “the comradery among all the comics and the bonds that they made because of Mic Fest is what separates this from any other festival. Having to arrive extra early to each open mic just to get a good spot on the sign-up list means you’re going to have to wait around with a bunch of people you might not know very well. And then, running to the next mic and then the next mic to do the same thing over and over again, all throughout the Fest means that by the end of the Festival, you will have made some new best friends. That’s the main goal of Mic Fest: To bring the entire comedy scene together for a few wild and crazy nights.”open-mic-fest-2016-buttons

Comedians will also collect a championship bling for each open mic where they perform. Since the Festival takes place during the presidential campaign, the buttons are custom-designed to resemble the “I voted” sticker.

Like other celebrations this month, Mic Fest is a chance for the best to bring their “A-Game” and be rewarded for it. For fans, it’s a chance to cheer them on and meet a whole league of comedians for free in an intimate, high-voltage setting and to gain “I saw them when” bragging rights for the future when these contestants show up on the national stage.

More information on tumblr, Facebook and below.


The “Best Of The Fest” showcase is on closing night of Mic Fest: Thursday November 10th at Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N. Oakley at 7:00  p.m.

Here is the Festival’s schedule (please confirm all details before heading out):


All times are evening hours.

DAY 1:

3 Dead Moose: Comedian sign-up at  7:00. Performance at 8:00.
Fun Simulation: Comedian sign-up at 8:30.  Performance at 9:00.
Smoke Break: Comedian sign-up at 9:00. Performance at 10:00.


DAY 2:

The Riff: Comedian sign-up at  6:30.  Performance at 7:00.
Globe: Comedian sign-up at 8:00.  Performance at 8:30.
Logan Theater: Comedian sign-up at 8:00. Performance at 8:30.
Five Star: Comedian sign-up at  8:30. Performance at 9:00.
iO: Comedian sign-up at 9:00.  Performance at 10:00.
Trigger Warning: Comedian sign-up at 10:30. Performance at 11:00.
Comedy Shrine: See for sign-up details.  Performance at 8:00.
Shots and Giggles: Comedian sign-up at 8:00. Performance at 9:00.


DAY 3:

Jokes on Jarvis: Comedian sign-up at  8:00. Performance at 8:30.
Hot Spot: Comedian sign-up at 8:00. Performance at 8:30.
Traffic Jam: Comedian sign-up details: Performance at 10:00.
Commit to the Bit: Comedian sign-up at  9:45. Performance at 10:00.
See You Next Tuesday: Comedian sign-up at 7:30.  Performance at 8:30.


DAY 4:

Goldies: Comedian sign-up at  8:00. Performance at 8:30.
Irish Eyes: Comedian sign-up at 7:30. Performance at 8:00.
Traffic Jam: Comedian sign-up details: Performance at 10:00.
Chemically Imbalanced: Comedian sign-up at  9:00. Performance at 9:30.
Added: Lazy Philosophers at Big Bricks, 3832 N. Lincoln: Comedian sign up at 7:00. Performance at 7:30.


Additional participating showcase: The Revival Theater

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