Author Archives: Rodney
You've seen them together at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival fundraiser earlier this month, at the Comedy Arcade Show last month, raising funds for Milwaukee's Tamarack Waldorf School, at the Down & Over Pub in Bay View, at the Riverwest Public House Cooperative, at the Arcade Theatre in the Underground Collaborative, and elsewhere.
Individually, Erik Koconis, Robby McGhee, James Boland and Lee Rowley are delivering comedy all over the Milwaukee area on any given night at stand-up venues, ComedySportz shows, as part of The Improvised Musical (T.I.M.), Sketch Marks comedy, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, No Dice improvised games, Busy Bar improv. assorted theater and more.
At 8 p.m. Friday, April 25, Erik, Robby, James and Lee improvise again as Tall Boys at 420 S. 1st St.
Fresh off their hilarious set in the Milwaukee Comedy Festival Fundraiser, Tall Boys improv comedy returns for a special show at the ComedySportz Garage. Join the boys as they crack open a new show based on a single audience suggestion.
Boys can't have all the fun. Opening for the Talls Boys will be Milwaukee's very own stand-up comedian Chastity Washington! (emphasis and links added)
Admission is $5. Do the math. That's only $1 per performer.
Supposedly, the British author and cleric Charles Caleb Colton is the one who said "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." We think he stole it from someone else (and hope they thanked him for it).
Anyway, that's the sentiment behind this Tuesday night's weekly open mic at the Down and Over Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in Milwaukee's Bay View.
Christopher Schmidt, a connoisseur of comedy, and co-host Tom Grimm are turning the free forum for stand-ups into a used-joke session, a humor swap night, an opportunity to blatantly share some other artists' material without any pretense of making it their own.
From the Facebook event, Joke Thief Night at the Down and Over Comedy Open Mic:
"Stealing jokes is one of the most despicable crimes a comedian can commit. But sometimes you hear those jokes that you really wish you'd written, and maybe you feel a little tempted. Well, here's your chance to embrace that envy. For one night only (at the Tuesday 4/15 mic), it will be completely okay to pilfer each others' joke books. Here are the rules:
-This is an open mic event, anyone can sign up to do up to five minutes of material. Sign up will be at 8:30, the show will start at 9:00.
-That material must not be your own, but you can "borrow" from any source material you'd like: local comics, famous comics (yes, you may finally bust out some Mitch Hedberg Jokes), street jokes, etc…It's all fair game.
-You may draw from as many different sources as you'd like during your set; it isn't necessary to only tell one comic's jokes.
-Repeats will probably happen. That's okay.
-This is a tribute to our fellow comics, so be respectful. The intention is to have fun, not to mock or ridicule."
Because that was better said and eaiser than putting it in our own words. That's why.
The open mic starts at 9 p.m., Tuesday, April 15. And it's free.
Often, we use critical reviews as consumer guides, helping us decide which movie or TV show or theatrical production to see. They give us a professional perspective on what is worthwhile or what suits our mood or complements our taste.
But reviews also serve as historical records, documenting what happened only once and never can be experienced again.
Last month, Russ Bickerstaff, from the Shepherd Express, reviewed the March performance of the monthly show T.I.M., The Improvised Musical. Because the musical is improvised, it's one-and-done. It's never the same. There's no going back.
Yet, the review specifies insights into the spontaneous, toe-tapping, heart-pumping creativity that audiences have found at T.I.M. shows since 2011. From Mr. Bickerstaff's review of the show "Book of Ninja," suggested by the audience (emphasis added):
"Now in its third year, the show regularly sells out. This month’s show was no exception with an enthusiastic crowd enjoying the presentation. A very charming Amanda Carson played the central heroine, a timid young woman studying to become a ninja. The cheesy action-musical plot played traditional journey-of-the-hero themes that were manipulated with some considerable efficiency by a group of students and a sassy spirit played by Mara McGhee as they followed the heroine to her triumphant finale."
So it won't be the same. A review is not a preview. But the next T.I.M. is at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 17. It's at ComedySportz, which will have its bar and restaurant service open for the show. The address is 420 S. 1st St. And it's only $5 cash.
You can wait for someone to review the show afterward. But by then you'll have missed it. You can reserve seats by calling weekdays at (414) 272-8888.
Aside from ComedySportz (born 30 years ago in Milwaukee), no other Milwaukee comedy improv show has stood the test of time like The Midnite Show.
Unlike the family-friendly ComedySportz, Midnite is uncensored. Its shows are at ComedySportz at midnight (duh) on Saturdays, after the 10 p.m. ComedySportz audience clears out.
But this Friday only, thanks to the magic of Milwaukee Comedy, you don't have to wait for midnight on Saturday to see The Midnite Show.
Because The Midnite Show is performing as part of the monthly Comedy Arcade Show. That's why.
The Midnite Show will be joining standup comedy artists:
- Bryan Morris
- Geoffrey Asmus
- Gena Gephart
- and Steve Breese, your host.
The Comedy Arcade Show starts at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 11, at the Arcade Theatre, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.
Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door.
McMann & Tate Adult Improv Comedy, an arm of the resident theater troupe of the Cedarburg Cultural Center, is improvising a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 12.
The improv show, called "Tomato Dodgeball 2014," begins at 7:30 p.m., at the Cedarburg Cultural Center, W62-N546 Washington Ave., Cedarburg.
Before that, pizza, beer, caramel apples and a silent action happen.
Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, please click here.
The Milwaukee Comedy Festival got a financial kick April 4 and 5 with a couple of fundraiser shows aimed at its 9th annual event – Aug. 7-10 at the Next Act Theatre space, 255 S. Water St.
Journalist Matthew Reddin took the occasion to put a historical perspective on the festival and Milwaukee Comedy in an article in the Wisconsin Gazette. In the article, Reddin shares some thoughts from Matt Kemple, founder of the festival, who cites an expansion of comedy in Milwaukee since the first fest in 2006. From the Wisconsin Gazette:
"New sketch, improv and stand-up artists are joining the pool each month, and they’re all dedicated to helping each other grow.
'That’s where the strength of the comedy scene comes from,' Kemple says.
Milwaukee Comedy has given the community a tremendous boost, providing not only support for artists, but also an additional comedy venue: the Underground Collaborative, a shared office/performance space located in the basement of Grand Avenue Mall."
Reddin notes how Milwaukee Comedy has been using the Underground Collaborative for regular shows that aim at building both talent and acceptance for a mix of comedy forms – improv, sketch and standup.
"Making comic variety a priority is Kemple’s way of introducing audience members to comedy genres they might have written off," Reddin writes.
One of those regular variety shows is the monthly Comedy Arcade Show. The next one is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 11, featuring improv from The Midnite Show, as well as standup comedy from Geoffrey Asmus and headliner Bryan Morris. The Underground Collaborative is at 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door.
Last month, the longtime Milwaukee-based improv troupe Homegrown Electric Circus said it had performed its last show. But Milwaukee continues to have a vibrant improvisational comedy scene. For instance:
- Tall Boys – featuring James Boland, Robby McGhee, Lee Rowley and Erik Koconis – performs limprov at this weekend's fundraiser for the Milwaukee Comedy Festival.
- The longstanding Midnite Show improv is venturing into prime time with an appearance Friday, April 11, at the Comedy Arcade Show.
- And, for Pete's sake, Milwaukee-grown ComedySportz is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Even with all that, Milwaukee Comedy recognizes an appetite for more Milwaukeeans to study improv, so it has been offering workshops, including a session at 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 14.
The class is $10 ond focuses on the long-form improv style known as the Harold. It's taught by Amanda Eaton, a member of the Sketch Marks comedy troupe as well as The Improvised Musical and Bye Bye Liver.
From the class description:
"Character and scene work will be a focus while building on the structure. A Harold is a style of long form improv originally developed by Del Close. In his book, Truth in Comedy, (co-written by Charna Halpern), describes a "training wheels Harold" as three acts (or "beats"), each with three scenes and a group segment. With each beat, the three scenes return. By the end of the piece, the three scenes have converged."
Featured on the recently released Comedic Release Show CD, Sammy is a prolific performer whose recent gigs include the Underwear Comedy Party at Art Bar Riverwest.
Papa's next show starts at 8 p.m., Thursday, April 10 (Doors open at 7.), at 7718 W. Burleigh St.
Tickets are $8 at the door; $5 in advance; or you could order the VIP treatment, including dinner for two and the show for $35.
As previously reported, Milwaukee has a plethora of standup comedy to choose from this week. But if you're more in the mood for a movie, you can find some standup comedy there, too.
Because Ryan Lowe is presenting another Stand-Up Cinema. That's why.
At 10 p.m., Friday, April 4, the Times Cinema is showing the "The Goonies." But it's not just the classic 1985 prepubescent adventure movie. Live comedians will be enhancing your movie-watching experience. It's called value-added.
From Facebook (imbedded links added):
"Stand-Up Cinema, inspired by things like MST3K and Cinematic Titanic, takes the tried and true 'make fun of the movie while you watch it' to the next level.
Along with the hilarious commentary, you'll see things like fake "deleted scenes" shot just for the event, live 'director' and 'actor' commentary during the film, live character dialogue and effects over-dubbing, we may even have a "missing reel" which requires our comedians to re-enact their own version of a scene live."
The Times Cinema is at 5906 W. Vliet St., Wauwatosa. Admission is $10.
You can ask the comedians, "How long have you guys been standing there?"
Milwaukee has a slew of open mic sessions and standup comedy showcases this week. That's appropriate because this week also marks a celebration of the Caste of Killers Comedy Collective, which for the last four years has been fostering standup artists and performances in Milwaukee and beyond. As founders Damon Millard and Jason Hillman told Third Coast Digest in 2010, their designs for building up Milwaukee's standup scene came from "socialist-Utopian-ideals" – also appropriate in a city with a history of embracing socialist politicians.
But on Wednesday, April 2, the Caste of Killers stresses the "social" part of socialist with an open mic and party. The event page on Facebook promises "cake, compliments and confusion." (It's invitation-only, but Facebook invitations have gone out to some 1,200 people, so check your account to see if you're among the chosen.)
Meanwhile, the Caste of Killers legacy is on public display through a bevy of standup shows. Some are direct results of the Caste of Killers work, others are not, but there's no denying the influence the Caste of Killers has had in opening venues and encouraging talent. Among the shows:
Monday, March 31
- 8 p.m., Comedy Show Comedy Show Open Mic, Bremen Cafe, 901 E. Clarke St.
- 8 p.m., Seriously, Comedy Open Mic, Fire on Water, 518 N. Water St.
Tuesday, April 1 (April Fool's Day)
- 7 p.m., Comedy Open Mic, Theatre Unchained, 1024 S. 5th St.
- 9 p.m., Down and Over Comedy Open Mic, Down and Over Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. (Including release of the CD recording made of the Jan. 31 Comedic Release Show)
Thursday, April 3
- 7:30 p.m., Brew Ha Ha! Comedy and Craft Beer, Big Head Brewing Company, 6204 W. State St., Wauwatosa
Friday, April 4
- 8:30 p.m., The Caste of Killers Presents: The Milwaukee Stand Up Comedy Showcase, Karma Bar & Lounge, 600 E. Ogden Ave.
- 10 p.m., Stand-Up Cinema: The Goonies, Times Cinema, 5906 W. Vliet St., Wauwatosa