Comedians call it "crickets" when a jokeflops, in tribute to the chirping insects that can be heard above thedeafening lack of laughter. And while no comedy house is perfectlyuninfested, the following clubs are plenty cool enough to remainbug-free most nights of the year. - M.H.

Zaniesin Lincoln Park is both intimate, with a 130-seat room, andintimidating, presenting A-list jokers like Dave Chappelle practicallyin your lap. With improv legend Second City a block away, Zanies'nightly shows are all and only stand-up. Cover for a typical show is$20. In case of a sellout, satellite Zanies in St. Charles and VernonHills offer larger venues.

ComedyWorks reliably lures comedy's biggest and best to the Mile High City.Tariffs to enter the 280-seat theater on historic Larimer Square rangefrom $10 on Tuesday's Amateur Night - the first show of the week - to$45 on a weekend, when established stars like Dennis Miller may sharethe stage with Josh Blue and other up-and-comers.

New York
Inthis city known for hip humor, nobody outjokes the Upright CitizensBrigade Theatre. The Chelsea club claims to be New York's only venuewith stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy every night. It may also bethe city's best cheap date: All shows cost $5 to $8. If you're killingtime on a Sunday, line up by six p.m. for free seats to the 9:30 improvshow, during which Saturday Night Live headliners frequently appear.

Pasadena, California
America'soldest comedy club is the Ice House in Pasadena, where, starting in1960, the likes of the Smothers Brothers trod the boards that todaysupport Ellen DeGeneres and her ilk. Tickets range from $14.50 to$19.50, and there's always a two-beverage minimum at this cozy,185-seat former ice factory where every night but Monday you can seeSunset Boulevard-quality comics in a Main Street environment.