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The Sitdown: Jokes and Notes owner Mary Lindsey

Mary Lindsey operates one of only four full-time stand-up venues in Chicago, Jokes & Notes on S. King Dr. in Bronzeville, and reportedly is the only female sole proprietor of a comedy club in America. But after two decades on the often stress inducing ha-ha roller coaster, this 59-year-old former financial honcho and co-proprietor of the legendary (and long shuttered) All Jokes Aside in Chicago’s South Loop just wants to chill out and have fun.

I don’t enjoy comedy so much, even though I can get funny after a couple of cocktails.

My grandfather always said, “Make a difference, help people.” Because that’s the kind of person he was.

I have a passion for helping people. I just think it’s how I’m wired.

The most rewarding thing for me is seeing the progress, the development [of comics]. Because I’ll tell you, I’m tired. I don’t really want to do this anymore.

I’m the best friend you could have, and I want people to love me like I love them. But it’s just so hard to let people down or deliver bad news.

I feel bad when I have to tell a comedian, “You can’t be on a show.”

They’ve gotten used to me saying “No” — and they know it means no.

At night I still don’t sleep well because I had to break somebody down.

I’ve seen a comic cry. He was onstage and the crowd wasn’t responding, and [he’s] looking at me like, “Oh, s—!” And I’m like, “What the hell? I’m not gonna beat you up!”

Comedians have so many things on their plate, so many issues. They mask a lot of their issues, and when they find that person they can trust and that might give them good advice, it doesn’t stop.

No one’s perfect, right? So we all have [issues]. But there is no room for me to think about my stuff.

If I go to a bar or if I go to movies, people come up to me and go, “You’re the comedy lady.” And then they sit or they join you, and it’s like, Ooh, this is weird.

At some point you just have to kind of draw the line or separate work and personal. I can’t tell you how many boyfriends have said, “Call me when you have time.”

As the oldest child of a single parent, I was the head maid in charge of five other siblings. And my mom was crazy. She was so OCD, and I didn’t even know what that meant.

She set the tone: You’ve got to be responsible. You’ve got to do what you say. When you take something out, put it back.

My grandpa was like, “You never want to over-drink,” so that’s just my nature. If I have a cocktail, I always have a whole glass of water in-between, so I never get that buzz.

He started giving me Jack Daniel’s at [age] 24. It’s still my drink.

I’ve learned not to drink when I’m on the [club] floor. I just don’t think it’s a good thing, because while I know I’m not drunk or high, everybody else thinks I am.

When I’m having a crazy day, I always get [to the club] at least an hour before the staff, and that’s when I’ll have that cocktail. So when they get here, they’re like, “Oh, you’re in a good mood.”

I was a VP at the Chicago Board Options Exchange for 10-plus years and then I left and worked for First Options [investment firm] for five years and was a vice president in their membership department. I worked with about 20, 30 guys every day.

Sometimes I think I learned how to be a guy better than I learned how to be a girl.

When I got divorced 12 years after I was married, I was like, “I’ll never get married again.” Not that I have anything against it.

I’m really happy. I couldn’t say that I was happy in my 20s, and I had the house, the big job making a million dollars [a year]. But I was not happy.

I don’t know that I ever experienced my 30s like normal people do. I had so much going on. And now, in my 50s, I’m single and really lovin’ it. I don’t want to change anything.

I’m younger than my 32-year-old daughter — in spirit.

My four-year-old grandson has changed my whole dynamic. I’ll have a date with him any day. I will blow everything off just to hang out with him. It removes me from everything.

I don’t want to have children. I don’t want to cohabitate. I just want to hang out and have a really good time.