Chicago's Only Black-Owned Comedy Club Forced to Shut Down

Mary Lindsey, founder of Jokes and Notes in Chicago
There are many Black-owned comedy clubs across the country, but quite a bit of them are closing down. Earlier this year, Chicago's only Black-owned comedy club, Jokes and Notes, was forced to shut down due to declining business.
Jokes and Notes, which was co-founded by entrepreneur Mary Lindsey, quickly became the country’s most influential black comedy club back in 2006 when they first opened. Stand-up comics like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and D.L. Hughley headlined the club, and others like Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, Mo’Nique and Steve Harvey got their career start at All Jokes Aside (the club's first name).

Lindsey owned the business for ten years, and was even named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ best entrepreneurs in 2014. She even weathered the Great Recession. But then business started dwindling, leading her to reach a very painful decision to close.

Lindsey said location has always been a factor to struggle with. Unlike clubs on the north side of Chicago, where there are plenty of restaurants and bars, the South Loop does not have that kind of atmosphere and Lindsay believes the increasing spread of crime has kept many away. So she has decided to close the doors for good.

She says she is very proud to have given so many black comics an opportunity to show their talent at her club. She commented, "It’s the end of something really big that made such a huge difference to this generation of comics, and they’re sad to see it go. But I’ll get through it. And then I’m just going to drop the mic, lock up.”

Although shut down already, the club's web site is still available to visit at
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