Reading Series

2nd Story  The Blackout Diaries The CCLaP Showcase The Danny’s Reading Series • Do Not Submit • Essay Fiesta • Fictlicious • Funny Ha-Ha • The God, Sex & Death Variety Hour • Grown Folks Stories • Guts & Glory • Here, Chicago • I Shit You Not!  Is This A Thing?  The LitMash Loose Chicks Lyricist Loft (Teen Friendly!) Miss Spoken  A Month Of…  The Moth • Palabra Pura • The Paper Machete Pungent Parlour Ray’s Tap Reading Series  Reading Under the Influence (RUI) • Red Rover Series • Seven Deadly Sins • Shame That Tune • Stoop Style Stories • Story Club Chicago • Story Lab • Story Sessions • Sunday Salon • Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series • That’s All She Wrote • This Much Is True Truth or Lie  Tuesday Funk • Two Cookie Minimum • Uptown Poetry Slam • Urban Sandbox (Teen Friendly!) • Windy City Story Slam Wit Rabbit Reads Write Club • Write Now! • You’re Being Ridiculous

A performance event combining storytelling, wine, and music. Three, four, or five stories are dispersed throughout the evening, all personal narratives, all nonfiction, all combined with musical accompaniment, with breaks between each so that inspired listeners can tell their own stories to friends sitting with them, the “2nd Stories,” and also eat and drink. Classes and workshops available. Rotating hosts. Webster’s Wine Bar | 1480 W Webster Ave | $18 | 21+ | Website

A comedy show about drinking stories, a “critic’s pick” at Red Eye, MetroMix, and Time Out Chicago. Comedians share the mic with “regular” people, such as cops, firefighters, and teachers, all recounting real-life tales about getting wasted. Hosted by Sean Flannery. Subterranean | 2011 W North Ave | $10 | 21+ | 8pm every Saturday | Website

One featured reading and six open-mic slots, five minutes apiece, all fiction. Hosted by Jason Pettus. E-mail cclapcenter [at] to sign up for an open mic slot. Website

Features poetry by writers from Chicago and abroad, each reading followed by a DJ performance. Past readers include such local favorites as Aleksander Hemon, Cris Mazza, and Kathleen Rooney. Hosted by Greg Purcell and Joel Craig. Danny’s Tavern | 1951 W Dickens | FREE | 21+ | Website

“The city’s rawest open mic.” This is the place for rough drafts and trepidatious writers, for experimenting and cutting your teeth. Audience members are other writers with works-in-progress and listeners who want to see how stories are shaped, tested, and re-worked. Sign up begins at 7, storytelling at 7:30. Each reader gets a maximum of seven minutes. Hosted by Shannon Cason, Alicia Sowisdral, and Scott Whitehair. (Scott Whitehair also hosts Story Lab and This Much is True.) Trace | 3714 N Clark St | FREE | 21+ | 8pm on the last Monday of every month | Website

Humor and heart. First person, nonfiction essays that benefit 826CHI by bringing together a cross section of Chicago’s art and writing communities. Bonus: it takes place in a cool independent bookstore that serves booze. Hosted by Willy Nast and Karen Shimmen. Book Cellar | 4736 N Lincoln Ave | FREE | All ages | 7pm on the third Monday of every month | Website

“Tiny morsels of story and song.” Original short fiction alongside original music and creative covers, all based on a theme. The Hideout | 1354 W Wabansia Ave | $10 | 21+ | Website

A literary humor reading series. Proceeds benefit 826CHI. Hosted by Claire Zulkey. The Hideout | 1354 W Wabansia Ave | $5 suggested donation | 21+ | Website

Storytelling, comedy, sketch, trivia, interviews, Q&A, short films, music, and more—all on the themes of god, sex, and death. Hosted by Danny Black and Angela Vela. The Hideout | 1354 W Wabansia Ave | $10 | 21+ | Website

“More formal than an open mic and less orchestrated than a performance,” in this series, professional storytellers share the mic with novices, each getting no more than five minutes to share. Hosted by Cara Brigandi. The Silver Room | 1442 N Milwaukee Ave | FREE | 21+ | 8pm on the third Thursday of every month | Website

Storytelling that is free, badass, true-to-life, and still somehow manages to benefit puppies and kids, at PAWS Chicago and 826CHI, respectively. Billed as “Live Lit for the Lionhearted,” the series promises to “strike at the heart of the human condition through story.” Hosted by Bitches Gotta Eat blogger Samantha Irby and Essay Fiesta founder Keith Ecker. Schubas | 3159 N Southport Ave | FREE | 21+ | 7pm on the third Wednesday of every month | Website

The potluck reading series. Formerly Here’s the Story, each installment starts with dinner at 7:30pm, then continues with readings at 8pm—five featured storytellers and five sign-up storytellers. No pages, no stage, just “the kind of old-timey storytelling that is practiced under porch-lights and on street corners by people who have a truth to tell, whether through fact or fiction.” Everyone is encouraged, but not required, to bring a dish for the potluck. Hosted by Janna Sobel. Stage 773 | 1225 W Belmont Ave | $8 or free with dish to share | 13+ only | 7:30pm on the first Sunday of every month | Website

“Stories not for the faint of fart,” featuring true stories of failed restraint and bodily blunders. Hosted by Michael Sanchez and Monte LaMonte. Website

Stories from real life on monthly themes told mostly in story or essay form, although other forms are welcome. Started by a group of writers who met in a live lit class at StoryStudio Chicago, this series offers a pre-show workshop on the Thursday evening before each installment. Rotating hosts. O’Shaughnessy’s Public House | 4557 N Ravenswood Ave | FREE | 14+ suggested | 7pm on the second Monday of every month, except for August | Website

Combining poetry slam, story slam, and live lit, Chicago Slam Works brings together the city’s “literary elite” for a battle unlike any other. Haymarket Pub & Brewery | 737 W Randolph St | $8 | 21+ | 7:30pm on the first Monday of every month | Website

A “juicy, gutsy, balsy, cutting edge look at life through the eyes of femme fatales.” Hosted by Roberta Miles and Jillian Erickson. Website

LYRICIST LOFT (Teen Friendly!)
“Open mic for open minds,” presented by Remix Spoken Word. Hosted by Dimi D, Mr. Diversity, and Fatimah. YOUmedia at Harold Washington Library Center | 400 S State St | FREE | All ages | 6-8pm every Wednesday | Website

“Girls talk. A lady-centric live lit performance.” Nonfiction spoken word essays of 7-10 minutes focusing on the theme of the month, and told by female-identified authors. Hosted by Rosamund Lannin and Carly Oishi. Gallery Cabaret | 2020 N Oakley Ave | FREE | 21+ | 7pm on the last Wednesday of every month, except for December | Website

Unscripted, off-the-cuff personal stories shared by hosts and audience members, all gathered together in a story circle after a potluck and debriefing. In each installment, there’s a theme that’s selected by the previous audience (i.e., “Dress to Impress”). The hosts spend a month executing a task that somehow allows them to explore the given theme (like visiting businesses with neither shirt nor shoes), and then they post evidence of their experiment on the series website and report what went down to the audience during the show. Hosted by Duo Yang, Polly Yukevich, and Cory O’Brien. Stage 773 | 1225 W Belmont Ave | $10 or free with dish to share and/or proof of participation in experiment | All ages allowed, but show often contains adult content and language | 7:30pm on the second Wednesday of every month | Website

Storytellers, often novices, explore a theme through true personal stories, often in unexpected ways. Stories run the gamut from ordinary incidences to extraordinary experiences, always seeking to break barriers, expose vulnerabilities, and suggest new ways of seeing things. Poet and bestselling novelist George Dawes Green launched the series in New York in 1997, and since then, it has become a worldwide phenomenon. In Chicago, it is hosted by Don Hall. Website

A local poet is paired with a visiting writer, and then there’s an open mic to showcase diverse voices, ideas, and aesthetics. Presented by the Guild Complex, this is the longest-running bilingual reading series in Chicago, featuring performances in both Spanish and English. Bruquena | 2726 W Division St | FREE | All ages | 7:30pm on the third Wednesday of every month (except August and December) | Website

A “live magazine” covering pop culture, current events, and American manners—part spoken-word show, part vaudeville review—featuring comedians, journalists, storytellers, and musical guests. Hosted by Christopher Piatt. Green Mill | 4802 N Broadway St | FREE | 21+ | 3pm every Saturday | Website

“A blend of atmospheric story and word play stinking up the place,” featuring a rotating cast of six to seven writers presenting original pieces of fiction and essay. Hosted by Jeff Phillips and Jeremy Solomon. Black Rock Pub & Kitchen | 3614 N Damen Ave | FREE | 21+ | 8:30pm on the third Tuesday of every month | Website

A variety show with a different theme in each installment, regularly attracting the city’s foremost live lit performers. Hosted by Chris Bower. Website

“Because everyone needs a literary hangover.” Original short stories plus short-short excerpts of published work related to the theme of the month, such as “Well Done,” with trivia contests that award books and other prizes. Rotating hosts. Sheffield’s | 3258 N Sheffield Ave | $3 | 21+ | 7:30pm on the first Wednesday of every month (arrive at 7pm to grab a seat and a bite to eat) | Website

An alternative to the ways in which poetry readings are typically staged, this series, made up of “language-based experimental performances,” emphasizes themes of imperfection, awkwardness, and incompleteness. Hosted by Laura Goldstein and Jennifer Karmin. Outer Space Studio | 1474 N Milwaukee Ave | FREE | All ages | Website

Seven storytellers are each assigned one of the seven deadly sins, and in response, they perform either fiction or nonfiction in any form, including short stories, essays, poems, confessions, memories, stand-up comedy, mixed media, and more. Hosted by Angela Vela. Cafe Mustache | 2313 N Milwaukee Ave | FREE | All ages | 8pm on the second Tuesday of every month | Website

A musical-comedy game show featuring three locally famous contestants telling embarrassing stories, being interviewed, and then standing helplessly by while their stories are transformed into piano covers of pop songs—and the audience judges. In between stories, hosts entertain the audience with oddball commercials. Hosted by Brian Costello and Abraham Levitan. The Hideout | 1354 W Wabansia Ave | $5 in advance, $7 at the door | 21+ | 6:30pm on the second Friday of every month | Website

A forum for all, storytellers are given a theme, but also told that “anything goes” and that all that’s required is a beginning, middle, and end. Hosted by Lily B. Rosa’s Lounge | 3420 W Armitage Ave | FREE | 21+ | 8pm on the last Tuesday of every month | Website

A nonfiction storytelling show that aims to “mix the spontaneity of an open mic with the experience of live theater.” At every installment, featured readers and open mic performers are each given a microphone and eight minutes. Hosted by Dana Norris. There are TWO branches of Story Club in Chicago:

North Side Story Club | Holiday Club | 4000 N Sheridan Rd | $10 suggested donation | 21+ | 7:30pm on the first Thursday of every month | Website

South Side Story Club | Co-Prosperity Sphere | 3219-21 S Morgan St | $10 suggested donation | All ages | 7:30pm on the third Tuesday of every month | Website

Seven up-and-coming storytellers tell their true personal stories in the cozy back room of a pub. Hosted by Scott Whitehair (who also hosts This Much Is True and Do Not Submit). Black Rock Pub & Kitchen | 3514 N Damen | FREE | 21+ | 7:30pm on the third Wednesday of every month | Website

A night of music, storytelling, and visual art. Live bluegrass music is followed by six ten-minute nonfiction stories centered around the theme of the month, shared by performers who range from professional actors, playwrights, and comedians to traditional storytellers and even novices. While the stories are performed, an artist sketches an interpretation of each tale. Hosted by Deanna Moffit. City Winery | 1200 W Randolph St | 21+ | Website

Voted “Chicago’s best break-out booze and lit reading series of 2013” by NewCity, this series features a collection of prose in each installment. Hosted by Christine Sneed, Alexandra Sheckler, and Natalia Nebel. Black Rock Pub & Kitchen | 3614 N Damen Ave | Website

A selected author presents original work to “a tamale and literature loving audience,” then there’s a Q&A and round-robin open mic. Tamale Hut Cafe | 8300 W Cermak Rd | Website

A non-competitive live lit venue for storytellers of all stripes. Hosts share the mic with a new line-up of readers each month. Hosted by Angela Benander and J.H. Palmer. The Savoy Seafood Lounge | 1408 N Milwaukee Ave | FREE | All ages | 8pm on the second Sunday of every month | Website

Seven different true, personal stories “revealing the humorous, embarrassing, and poignant moments that make up a life remembered,” some from core performers and some from featured guests. Hosted by Stephanie Douglass, Larry Kerns, and Scott Whitehair. (Scott Whitehair also hosts Do Not Submit and Story Lab.) Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro | 3905 N Lincoln Ave | Free | 21+, unless with parent | 7:30pm on the second Tuesday of every month | Website

Five to six storytellers spinning true or fictive tales and leaving the audience to wonder, truth or lie? Hosted by Sarah Terez Rosenblum. Firecat Gallery | 2124 N Damen Ave | FREE | All ages | 7:30pm on the first Sunday of every month | Website

Chicago’s eclectic monthly reading series, presented by the Gothic Funk Nation, and featuring a variety of fiction, poetry, essays, and other works in all genres. Hosted by Andrew Huff and Eden Robins. Hopleaf Bar | 5148 N Clark St | FREE | 21+ | 7:30pm on the first Tuesday of every month | Website

Stories and cookies. Both are free, the latter vegan, too. The goal is to highlight new writers and the Chicago zine community. Hosted by John Wawrzaszek, A.K.A. Johnny Misfit. Hungry Brain | 2319 W Belmont Ave | FREE | 21+ | 9pm on the first Tuesday of every month | Website

The granddaddy of all poetry slams, the first, the original, now nearly three decades old. An open mic followed by featured performers, a live band, and the world-famous slam competition. Hosted by Marc Smith and J.W. Basilo. Green Mill | 4802 N Broadway St | $7 | 21+ | 7pm every Sunday | Website

URBAN SANDBOX (Teen Friendly!)
In its 11th year, an all-ages and multi-canvassed open mic that features poets, emcees, musicians, comedians, solo-artists, puppeteers, and more, with an emphasis on giving young artists a place to take stage, hang out, and interact with established artists outside of the student/teacher paradigm. Hosted by curator and co-founder Dan “Sully” Sullivan. Voice of the City Studio | 3429 W Diversey Ave | $6 suggested donation | All ages | 8-10pm on the second Thursday of every month | Website

A live storytelling competition that seeks to explore Chicago’s diversity, operating under the philosophy that “everybody’s got a story.” Hosted by Bill Hillmann. Website

An inter-genre reading series showcasing poetry, prose (narrative or otherwise), drama, and other “text-creations,” particularly the earnest kind. Quenchers Saloon | 2401 N Western Ave | FREE | 21+ | 7pm on the first Tuesday of every month | Website

“Literature as bloodsport.” In 2013, this show was named the “Best Literary Event” by the Chicago Reader and the “Best Reading Series” by Chicago Magazine, and it is undoubtedly one of the driving forces behind the local and international live lit movement. The premise: three bouts of two writers each, who get seven minutes apiece to defend one of two diametrically opposing ideas, such as “rain versus shine.” “Combatants” fight not only with persuasive essays, but with a range of literary forms and theatrical techniques—and they win or lose according to audience applause. At the end of each show, there are three victors, three charities benefited, and three “Loving Cups of Deathless Fucking Glory” awarded. Hosted by “overlord” Ian Belknap. The Hideout | 1354 W Wabansia Ave | $10 | 21+ | 7pm on the third Tuesday of every month, except for July and August | Website

An open mic for comedians and live lit storytellers. Hosted by Danny Black and Anne Victoria LaMonte. Cafe Lutz | 2458 W Montrose St | FREE | All ages | 7pm on the first Tuesday of every month | Website

“Real people telling real funny stories.” Brave, bold, and revealing nonfiction stories by the readers, about the readers, each between 8-10 minutes long. Hosted by Jeremy Owens. Website