|Owner Mary Lindsey of Jokes and Notes|
“The operating expenses just grew beyond me staying in existence,” she was quoted as saying in a DNA info article on the closing. “I had to make a decision to stop the bleeding if you will because expenses continued to rise but the support isn’t here.”
This is a huge shame because not only was Jokes and Notes a trend setter when it came to cutting edge comedy coming out of Chicago, but it was also the only Black owned club in the city and the only Black & Female owned club in the country.
If it wasn't for Jokes and Notes, many of today's best and brightest Black comedians may not have
found the success they enjoy today. Jokes and Notes was for many, a safe space for local talent who did not get the opportunity for quality stage time at other clubs. Deon Cole, Milton “Lil Rel” Howery, and Brian Babylon have all gotten their start on the stage of jokes and Jokes. Comedian Hannibal Buress has also performed there on many a night.
|Vanessa Fraction on stage at J&N|
Jokes and Notes has always had to fight for even the littlest of press in this town. Especially from The Chicago Reader which seems like it pumps out a "comedy" related article every time a white improviser farts, but I challenge anyone to send me 1 link to an in-depth article they have written on J&N in the last 5 years. I couldn't find any.
The segregation of Chicago has always been somewhat duplicated in the comedy scene. When you only book or work with people who look, act, think and talk like you - what do you expect? But Jokes and Notes was the shining example against this limited vision. Despite being dismissively categorized by some as an urban club, J&N was refreshingly welcoming. Mary would give anybody a shot on her stage. Black, white green it didn't matter. Many non-black comedians not only did well, but thrived there.
Rest In peace Jokes And Notes, you will be missed. For those of you that have never been to J&N, I encourage all to attend the final comedy shows that will run through the weekend.
James Allen Kamp