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A Brief History of Chicago City Limits

Paul Zuckerman and Robin Williams

CCL Cast Photos

Chicago City Limits has been a New York City fixture for nearly 30 years. We were founded in 1977 in Chicago by George Todisco and actors participating in the workshop program at The Second City. In 1979, we relocated to New York, performing regularly at Catch a Rising Star, the Improv, the Duplex, and other noted clubs. We established our own theater in the summer of 1980 and began a continuous run that has now reached over 8,500 performances!

Below is a timeline of our storied run in New York City:



Labor Day. Chicago City Limits performs its first show at Kobart’s Komedy Kove in Chicago. For the next two years it performs all over the Chicago area, becoming one of the most popular acts in town.


A Coast-to-Coast tour takes CCL to comedy clubs in Las Vegas’ Jockey Club, and The Improv in Los Angeles and New York.


CCL relocates to New York City and performs in clubs and cabarets across the New York Metro area, including The Improv, Catch a Rising Star, The Comic Strip, Dangerfield’s and The Duplex.


Chicago City Limits Improvisational Theater opens on June 1, 1980, in a 75-seat cabaret space on West 42nd St. between 10th and 11th Ave’s. The group’s first revue, Dented, contains a combination of sketch comedy and audience-inspired improvisations. The show becomes an underground hit and starts what will become New York City’s longest running comedy revue.


With a home base now in New York, CCL establishes its Improv Training Program. Over the years it becomes a key learning center for improvisers, actors, comedians and anyone who wants to learn to think on their feet.


The Chicago City Limits National Touring Company is formed. Over the years, the Touring Company has appeared at over 2,000 venues, including the Smithsonian Institute, Lincoln Center and Super Bowl XXIII.


CCL relocates to the more spacious Jan Hus Playhouse on East 74th St., where it will stay for the next 11 years. In that time it presents a series of critically-acclaimed comedy revues seven times each week. Late shows on Fridays become comedian nights: CCL is often joined on stage by comedians from nearby comedy clubs, including Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Rita Rudner, Paul Reiser, Brett Butler, Larry Miller, Bill Irwin and many others.


After seeing a CCL show, an audience member asks the group if it would perform at a corporate event for the first time. Today the group regularly provides entertainment, teambuilding training, and business meeting facilitation, for companies of all sizes, including Fortune 500 leaders, the U.S. Government, and smaller groups.


CCL takes over a small movie theater on 1st Avenue, continuing its unbroken run of shows in its own space.


Chicago City Limits hosts The Bass Red Triangle Comedy Festival, showcasing top comedy groups in a series of shows across the nation.


CCL moves to Broadway, returning to its cabaret roots at the Broadway Comedy Club in midtown. The club has two rooms in addition to our stage, allowing CCL to accommodate large and small groups.


New York's legendary comedy improv show, Chicago City Limits wins recognition of excellence from Zagat Night Life.


Chicago City Limits receives the 2008 MAC Award for Best Comedy/Improv Group in New York City.





Chicago City Limits receives the 2009 MAC Award for Best Comedy/Improv Group in New York City

CCL Performs its 8,500th Show in New York City

CCL's breakthrough work with Alzheimer's patients is the subject of a
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