Author Archives: Rodney

Wisconsin sampler

Wisconsin high school basketball tournaments are a perennial sign of winter ending and spring warming up. They offer a chance to exert local pride while admiring the talent from elsewhere.

Somewhat similarly (except for the athletics and the competition and many other details), that's what Milwaukee Comedy is presenting on Friday, March 14.

The Grand Comedy Hour showcases comedy performers from three Wisconsin hotspots. Namely:

From Madison – Heather Hanford, standup. 

From her website:

"A manic weirdo who spent far too much of her adolescence fending off rebellious tendencies, Heather Hanford isn't necessarily equipped to handle adulthood. Comedy is her outlet for coming to terms with her transition from an awkward nerd to a smug asshole, with the hopes of bringing some sort of gratification to someone other than herself."

From Eau Claire – Glassworks Improv, aka Alex Raney, Elliot Heinz and Mack Hastings.

From their website:

"There’s a reason bands are drawn to playing with Glassworks. Like the best bands and improv groups, they bring both a frantic energy and a focused poise to every performance. Like Philip Glass (their namesake), they can find energy and new life in repetition, in variation. They walk these lines without fear, as friends. The fun that they have on stage is palpable. Yes, every performance is different, but they are linked by a common bond, one forged through years of playing together, whether as friends or as serious improvisors. It is beautiful and youthful and fragile and perfect."   

From Milwaukee – Greg Bach, standup. 

From Greg's website:

"I’m a comedian. I have been performing since 2007 in various formats including (but not limited to) improv, sketch comedy and standup. As a writer I have worked with the broadminded sketch group, Sketch 22 and I was a contributor to the Committee of Five political blog. I’m also a student at The Second City Training Center for Writing."

The Grand Comedy Hour is in the Arcade Theatre of the Grand Avenue mall, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. Tickets are $10 online here or $15 at the door. Go ahead. Take pride in these Wisconsin treasures. Admire their performances. Spring is right around the corner.

Milwaukee Comedy also recently opened its application process for the 9th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, which runs Aug. 7-10. Click here for details.

Improv - No Dice

If someone asks if you want to stay in Monday night, just answer, "No Dice."

That's the name of the improvised comedy show led by Milwaukee's James Boland at the Riverwest Public House Cooperative. In No Dice, James adapts the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game to improvise audience-involved comedy. From Facebook:

"Nationally performing comedian James Boland will get some volunteers from the audience and some suggestions of Monsters and Dungeon Location for the adventure, and will then lead the volunteers through a DnD adventure based on the wacky suggestions. You don't need to know anything about DnD to have the best time ever at this."

No Dice begins begins at 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 10, at the Pub House, 815 E. Locust St. Admission is $2.

Speaking of Riverwest…

At 8:30 p.m. Monday, March 10, the weekly Comedy Show Comedy Show Open Mic showcases up-and-coming as well as established standup comedy talent. It's free, and it's at the Bremen Cafe, 901 E. Clarke St. (Arrive at 8, if you want to perform.)

Speaking of Improv…

No Dice offers a chance to enjoy and participate in improv, or you could take an intro-to-improv class presented by Milwaukee Comedy and taught by Amanda Eaton. That's at 6:30 p.m., Monday, March 10, at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. The two-hour workshop is $10, but you have to enroll in advance. Click here for more information. 

(Coincidentally, Amanda and James both perform in the Comedy Arcade Show, 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 21, also at the Underground Collaborative. Amanda is part of Sketch Marks comedy. James is a member of the Tall Boys improv quartet, which includes Robby McGhee, Erik Koconis and Lee Rowley, who also is a member of Sketch Marks. For more information on the Comedy Arcade Show, click here.)

10 hours of improv

If you don't know it already, you will: This is the 30th anniversary of Milwaukee-based ComedySportz.

The influence of the innovator of short-form competitive comedy improv spans the globe and includes the Atlas Improv Co., in Madison.

Atlas just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and it's marking the occasion with a 10-hour improv marathon. It's called PhatCamp.

And here's the deal, Atlas is looking for improv groups to help fill the hours and join in the phun at PhatCamp. 

From an email from Kristina, at Atlas:

"We'll have slots available from 4 pm, March 29th to 2 am, March 30th. We're looking to fill at least eight 25 minute sets throughout the 10 hours with improv (strictly improv)."

The deadline for submitting an application is 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 12. Click here for the application.

And even if you don't perform, the shows are free (Although, they wouldn't mind a $5 donation). Learn more about it here. 

Nostalgic relief

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of hearing people saying they're tired of winter. 

Quit complaining, I say. If you don't like the weather, do something about it.

Like enjoying a live comedy event. Especially a nostalgic comedy. What could be more comforting?

That's the whole idea behind Retro Comedy Night. Some of Milwaukee's funniest performers stage an episode of one of the TV sitcoms you watched while you were growing up. Word for word. We can't tell you which nostalgic TV show it's going to be. It's a surprise to the audience. But you can warm yourself in the assurance that it's going to be hilarious. And the nostalgic factor will help you remember winters that were much more severe – when you had to walk to school amid drifting mountains snow uphill both ways.

The next Retro show is at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 8, in the Arcade Theatre, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.  

From Facebook: 

"An all new Retro Comedy Night will feature not only a classic retro sitcom performed live on stage, but also live stand up from Patrick Tomlinson! 

Presale is $10 online and $15 at the door. 

Shows do sell out. Get your tickets now before it's too late!"

Click here for online tickets.

Craft Laughter

Two short nights after Mardi Gras, on Thursday, March 6, you're invited to imbibe in some free laughter courtesy of the Brew Ha Ha comedy show.

From Facebook:

"It's a comedy show that cures what 'Ales' you!"

Because it's at the Big Head Brewing Co. That's why. It's at 6204 W. State St.

Eric Thorson is your host. And there's craft beer to accompany the laughter. It starts at 7:30 p.m. And it's free.

Long Story Short!

Maybe it'll be a bit like watching sausage being made – only funnier.

Milwaukee Comedy is beginning a new series that lets you peek into the personal lives of top comedy talent in the area. The show is called "Long Story Short!," and it involves local funny people presenting personal narratives on themed topics.

The inaugural Long Story Short! is at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 6, "Romance at Its Best: Stories about the success and failures of love and romance."

Comedians scheduled for the first Long Story Short! include:

  • Ryan Lowe
  • Erik Koconis
  • Jeff Lampton
  • Nick Hart and
  • Greg Bach

Tickets are $5 at the door. 

Long Story Short! will be staged at the Arcade Theatre, part of the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.

Milwaukee Comedy also recently opened its application process for the 9th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, which runs Aug. 7-10. Click here for details.

Rilin' Mason

Ryan Mason had a meteoric rise as a standup comedian in the Milwaukee area through the Caste of Killers Comedy Collective

Now, he's moving on down Interstate 94 to Madison.

So, he's giving his fellow comedians occasion to roast him before he goes.

And that's just what they'll be doing at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27, at the Art Bar in Riverwest, 722 E. Burleigh St. It's the Caste's twice-a-month open mic at the Art Bar anyway, but this night, they're focusing their jokes on Ryan.

From Facebook:

"If you know Milwaukee comedian Ryan Mason then you have no doubt heard that he will soon be leaving us to go split sides in Madison. While we have nothing but love for Ryan we will be combining this week's open mic with an opportunity to let Ryan know what you really think about him or his questionable fashion choices."

Admission is free. Anyone interested in performing should arrive at 8:30 to sign up.

Before the roast

Performers also should note the opportunity to warm up for the Ryan Mason roast (And can't we all use a warm-up?): 

Comedy at the Curve is an open mic that starts at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27, at the Curve Bar, 1634 N. Water St. Signup there begins at 7 p.m. Admission there also is free.

Judging from Facebook, you'll see some of the same comedians at both events. It's a Milwaukee comedy bar-hopping dream-come-true.

Click here to see our interview with Ryan Mason at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival last August.

Performers can now submit to participate in the 9th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival. Click here for details.

Ex Fabula winter break

Although it's not necessarily a comedy event, there's guaranteed humor somewhere in the evening when you ask a room full of people to stand up and share stories with strangers. Perhaps especially when drinks are being served.

The next Ex Fabula story slam is at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 5, at Milwaukee's Hot Water Wherehouse, 818 S. Water St.

Volunteer storytellers are picked from a hat to tell a true five-minute personal story before the audience, which usually is a packed house. The March Ex Fabula requires storytellers to relate to the theme "Off the Hook." Each month, the audience picks its favorite of nine storytellers to advance to a best-of show in May.

Starting five years ago at the Art Bar in Riverwest, Ex Fabula has burgeoned into a monthly habit for many Milwaukeeans. It has a podcast, a weekly radio show (Fridays at noon on WMSE-91.7 FM), storytelling workshops and recently a full-time executive director, Megan McGee. (You know Megan from broadminded Comedy.)

From Facebook:

"Had enough of snow, ice, and wind chills? We think it’s time to let winter off the hook."

Get it? "Off the Hook" is the theme of the next Ex Fabula. Pay attention. 

The doors open at 6:30 so you can get a decent seat and settle in with your beverage. Storytellers are encouraged to arrive by 7 to make sure they get their names in the hat. Tickets are $7, but Ex Fabula memberships are available, too.

College comedy - Laughing Stock

Milwaukee comedy wouldn't be what it is without the energy and talent contributed by Milwaukee college students. Whether it's University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students performing at ComedySportz or Sketch 22 or the Retro Comedy Show or Marquette University's upstart 33rd & State sketch troupe, local colleges furnish creative forces to the comedy community. Many of the seasoned Milwaukee comedy veterans got their starts as college students.

So here's a chance to see some of that youthful energy and talent and creativity on display: 

UWM is performing "Laughing Stock," March 5-9, on the Mainstage Theaterat the Peck School of the Arts, 2400 E. Kenwood Boulevard. From the website:

"Follow the company at The Playhouse, a struggling New England summer-stock theatre, as they desperately try to produce a successful season of Dracula, Hamlet, and Charley’s Aunt! This hilarious farce is a heartfelt look into the world of theatre and its quirky cast of characters."

General admission is $17

Click here for more information.

Homegrown Up (and moving on)

Looks like the end of the ride for the Homegrown Electric Circus. The Milwaukee-based improv group is inviting fans to what’s being hailed as Homegrown’s last show.

It all began in the apartment of Josh Barto four years ago. Now, Josh, Scott Heaton, Mike Walker and Evan Koepnick are performing their swan song on the stage where Homegrown entertained its first audience, at the Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

From Facebook:

“After four years, multiple special guests, and only one fatality (which we’ve done a really good job of not mentioning until now) Homegrown Electric Circus is calling it a day.”

The show starts and Homegrown ends at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 7. Admission is $5 cash at the door.

More from Facebook:

“There’ll be improv! There’ll be surprise guests! There’ll be tears! Seriously there’s no way we’re making it through the night dry eyed. I know we’re comedians, but we do have some feelings left. Jeez! What are you, some kind of robot?”

Homegrown even says you can bring your yearbook, and they’ll sign it. It’s going to be one of those kinds of farewells.

  • Tickets Tickets Buy Tickets for upcoming Milwaukee Comedy Events!
  • The Comedy Arcade The Comedy Arcade Milwaukee’s new, collaborative comedy showcase featuring. A little of everything for every comedy enthusiast!
  • Retro Comedy Show Retro Comedy Show A night of new comedy based on old ideas! Standup, improv and a surprise retro 70's, 80's or 90's sitcom live on stage.
  • Variety Hour Happy Hour Variety Hour Happy Hour An all new variety comedy show with live music, special guests and plenty of comedy acts!
  • Featured Comedy Featured Comedy There are plenty of high-quality comedy shows and performers. Here are our favorites!


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