Dan Drees

At “Your Monday’s Best,” an open mic that happens weekly at Schubas, host Chris Condren is cracking himself up. His laughter is infectious and it helps him sell each joke. His impression of Robert De Niro in a psych ward, for example, is loud and lusty: “Hey! Are you talkin’ to you,” he says in his best Travis Bickle but tacking a hardy Condren howl onto the end.

Ian Abramson, meanwhile, loves his double entendres. Several of tonight’s jokes are plucked from his Twitter feed which means I’ve likely already favorited them. This one is just plain silly: “For awhile, I used to see a child psychologist. Then he grew up.” The next one up is a smart one and it takes all of us a few second to figure it out. “This guy was asking me for help. But his pants were on fire so I knew he was lying.”

There’s a lot of good energy in the room tonight. Tyler Snodgrass is compelling and fun to watch. He devotes his entire four minutes to experimenting sexually with his high school girlfriend in a religious Missouri town. Let’s just say the buckle of the Bible Belt may as well be fastened around his own pants. Second host Dan Drees piggybacks right on top of this noting that in order to get into heaven he’ll have to give up his two favorite vices: sex and lying. “I’m very good at one of those things.”

Sex, love and politics are on the brain. “Putting a condom in my wallet before I leave my apartment kind of feels like a grown man bringing a glove to a baseball game,” says comedian Murphy Row. “It’s like, what are the odds you’re actually going to get a chance to use it?” Steven King, meanwhile, attempts to craft the perfect OkCupid profile. Spirit animal: “silly goose.” Dislikes: “Every time we go on a date, you don’t have any money.” Out comedian Frank Nielsen, meanwhile, rails against the F-word in describing gay men and wonders about a more politically correct substitute. Fashionable American, perhaps?

At the Comedy Bar in River North Friday night, host Martin Morrow warms up a recalcitrant room: “Anybody ever date a crazy person,” he says leaning into the front row. “Blink rapidly if they’re sitting next to you.” I also like this one: “Anytime I see a woman with a diamond on her finger, I’ll go up to her and in my thickest African accent say, ‘You’re welcome!’”

Our feature, Russ Williamson, receives a few positive scribbles in my notebook, mostly due to some funny bits steeped in observational humor: “Ever step out of the shower and realize you have to take a crap?” he asks. There’s a collective nod in the crowd and I am amused when a woman sitting next to me mutters “I hate that,” under her breath. A former Navy Pier worker bee, Williamson also jokes about going rogue with the trivia he had to dish out as a server at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. “Listen up,” he would say to unsuspecting tables. “At what point in Forrest Gump did Jenny die of AIDS?”

Our headliner, Barry Rothbart, has been killing it lately. One of Variety’s comedians to watch in 2013, he’s been on “Conan,” “The Late Late Show” and “The Tonight Show” and even has a role in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” “I found out that dolphins have sex for pleasure,” says Rothbart who also notes with a grin (which may or may not be facetious) that these beloved sea creatures also have a tendency to sexually abuse each other—and humans. According to Rothbart, last year approximately fourteen people report unwanted sexual encounters with our porpoise friends. “That means there were fourteen people who thought cops could do something about that.” Maybe you had to be there, but it kills.

A cab ride later, I’m warming my innards at Zanies where feature comedian Emily Galati is waxing hilariously about the differences between Chicago and her native Phoenix. “Sometimes people shout at me, ‘Emily, Arizona’s racist,” says Galati. “Yeah, but it’s a dry racist.” Are people really shocked that Arizona is racist, she wonders aloud. “Most grandparents are racist. Arizona has the most grandparents.” Galati also fires off a good one about how mannish she looks without makeup. “I went to work without makeup once. I got a raise.”

Headliner Dov Davidoff is feisty and fired-up tonight. He steps down from the stage occasionally and peers into the audience to engage the room. “CNN had a recent poll that says 60 percent of Americans believe we should have an increased presence in the Hindu Kush at the border of Afghanistan,” says Davidoff. “I have a feeling that 80 percent of those 60 percent believe that Hindu Kush is a kind of medical marijuana.” Lamenting the state of our union is a recurring theme: “I saw in the news that America is 15th in achieving the American Dream,” he says to much laughter. “America is starting to feel like that friend in high school who can’t let go. He’s at the bar in his thirties going, ‘remember when I threw that pass?’”