Comedy News

All the local comedy news you need to know about in and around Milwaukee!

Milwaukee Comedy supports the local comedy scene in Milwaukee, WI and surrounding areas with this comedy news blog, offering incite on the local comedy scene, info on area comedy shows, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, special offers and ticket giveaways and more.Something missing?  Tell us about a local comedy event!

Check out more comedy in Milwaukee with our Comedy Event Calendar!

Caste of Killers rides again

So what do you do after four solid years of standup comedy in Milwaukee, of talking your way into new venues, of organizing open mics, of encouraging others – some who have never performed standup before – to join you, of running sometimes four or five shows in a week? What's next? 

Well, if you're Milwaukee's Caste of Killers Comedy Collective, obviously, you keep on joking.

Exhibit A: The Caste of Killers' Comedy Showcase, at 8:30 p.m., Friday, May 2, at Karma Bar, 600 E. Ogden Ave. From Facebook:

It's been peer reviewed and verified through stringent scientific experimentation: Karma Bar and Grill is home to Milwaukee's best underground comedy showcase. This comedian-run, independently-produced comedy show that started with a couple of funny guys and a microphone has grown into a full-fledged professional comedy extravaganza. The Caste of Killers showcase only the freshest and brightest comedy acts. From new, local, up-and-coming comics to nationally-touring headliners. The Milwaukee Stand-Up Comedy Showcase is the hidden jewel and the cornerstone of the Milwaukee comedy scene.

Here's this month's lineup:

Steve Breese 
Tony Broncatti
Abby Stassen 
Leanne Linsky
Mikey Manker 

Caste of Killers Showcase tickets are $5; $10 for VIP seating. And you can get them right here.

Greg Bach and a new podcast

Milwaukee is home to a lot of talented, hard-working comedians. Then there's Greg Bach. We suspect he's got a doppelganger or a time machine or a support staff of other comedians helping him accomplish all he's doing.

Check out his website, GregBach.com, if you don't believe us. Just some of the highlights include his work on The Good Night Milwaukee Show with Jake Kornely and Tyler Menz! his Uniform Snowflakes podcast and his studies at Second City Training Center.

An accomplished performer of improv and sketch, Greg Bach has been more prominent lately as a standup comedian. In the coming week alone, you can see him at such spots as:  

​And now Greg (or his double or his staff) is launching a whole new venture: The Milwaukee Comedy Podcast. Because he doesn't have enough to do. That's why.

Greg has already recorded the inaugural episode, and Milwaukee Comedy will be hosting a web page for the podcast as well as making it available on iTunes. We'll let you know as soon as it's available.

Meanwhile, catch Greg Bach at one of his many appearances and suggest why you would be a good subject for his podcast. Yeah, like he hasn't heard that before.

Milwaukee Comedy on YouTube

You probably already know this, but it bears reminding that Milwaukee Comedy sports more than 100 videos on its YouTube channel.

That includes promos, interviews, show recordings and introductory trailers for the plethora of Milwaukee comedy talent performing in Milwaukee Comedy events, such as the Milwaukee Comedy Festival.

Recently released videos on the Milwaukee Comedy YouTube channel feature sketches from last summer's Sketch 22 show. If you were involved – as a writer, director or performer – here's your chance to see how it looked. If you were in the sold-out audience for the semi-annual all-original production, you can replay your favorites (One of our many favorites is displayed above as an example.). And, if you've never seen Sketch 22, these YouTube videos are enticements.

Likewise, the Milwaukee Comedy YouTube channel can catch you up on other happenings and artists in the Milwaukee area.

Check it out. Click the Subscribe button so you don't miss the frequent updates.

Variety Hour (dance party)

Talk about burying the lead! The Variety Hour Happy Hour is launching a comedy show with a party afterward, but you wouldn't know it unless you read their promotion to the very end.

For the last year, the Variety Hour has been performing old-timey type vintage-TV-style shows with comedy sketches, live music, special guests, interviews, games and fabulous prizes. The shows have something for everybody – from zany to thoughtful. Because it's a variety show. That's why.

At 8 p.m., Friday, May 2, (May the 2nd be better!) the Variety Hour is having what it is eloquently calling "Variety Hour Happy Hour Anniverseganza II: The Varieting." From Facebook:

"…see a night of sketches, songs, and laughs, and maybe you'll just find your true purpose in life, we don't know, we're not your psychiatrist, we can't help you with that! But we can help you with the funny! Cuz that's how we do!"

As always, the show is in the Arcade Theatre of the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. 

Tickets are $15 at the door and $10 in advance. And the show is promising a "Super Secret Special Guest!"

But here's the kicker: Not until the last line of the Facebook post, do we learn that this celebration show also turns into a dance party. So now we've told you. You're welcome. Bear that in mind as you're dressing for the show. Wear appropriate shoes. And for the love of Pete, put on some deodorant.

Allen Edge is out there

Allen Edge is a Milwaukee treasurer. He's a nationally touring comedian, a character actor appearing in such feature films as "Barbershop 2: Back in Business" and "Meet the Browns," and he calls Milwaukee home.

We've seen him participate in Milwaukee open mics and Erik Koconis's Comedy Conclave, which tells you:

  1. Allen Edge is a professional who keeps working at his craft. 
  2. Allen Edge gives back to the community by involving himself in the development of other performers.

On Sunday, May 4, Allen Edge is running an acting workshop on developing character. From Facebook:

"Get Character in this comprehensive workshop on Character Development for the actor. You'll explore the foundations of your instrument (you) as well as the techniques of Stanislavski and Meisner. Character development is the foundation of the craft of acting. This workshop is for the seasoned actor as well as the beginner."

The workshop runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.

It costs $60, and space is limited. Please click here to sign up and more information.

And don't miss Allen in a live show "The Edge of Sanity with Allen D. Edge," at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 10, also at the Arcade Theatre, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. Click here for $15 tickets.

 

Short notice for Tall Boys

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.

From Facebook:

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.

Johnny Beehner on Festivals

Festival season is in steady course for comedians and The Milwaukee Comedy Festival is gearing up for another year of great laughs! We thought it would be a great idea to talk with local great Johnny Beehner about comedy festivals!

Johnny BeehnerJohnny, who recently competed in Gilda’s LaughFest Best in the Midwest Competition and returned to Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, was awesome enough to chat with us about his experiences with comedy festivals and offered some humbling advice for young comedians looking to submit to festivals.

(Milwaukee Comedy) You recently finished Laughfest and Laughing Skull…what were the most enjoyable moments that came from those experiences? What did you learn that you didn’t know before going into these events?

(Johnny) don’t know that I learned a ton that I didn’t know before going into those. I did go to a couple of seminars at the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival on the business of comedy and what industry is looking for. This was my 3rd time doing the Laughing Skull Festival and I love it every time—lots of comics, lots of opportunities to hang with comics, and lots of industry.

LaughFest was great because it is so well put together and a great cause! Gilda’s Club runs and puts on the festival and there are so many shows and it’s just great. The whole city of Grand Rapids gets behind it.

Here’s what I learned doing those festivals and talking to the higher ups: The comics that do the best are one’s that have a unique point of view and are very memorable. There were some comics that killed in their sets and didn’t advance. These judges see over 60 comics and they look for the one’s they will remember weeks after the festival.

Ya got to stick out.


There’s more to these events than winning and performing…can you explain what some of the benefits of participating or just hanging around festivals/contests?

The best part is getting to hang out with comics that you don’t get to see very often.  As comics, we all work at the same time and only 2 or 3 work together on weekend shows, and if you are at the same level as each other, you never get to work together.  That is why festivals are so great. Comics get to hang out and have a week of fun together. 

The networking is really important. If you don’t live in NY or LA, festivals are a great opportunity to get seen and meet people in industry that can help your career. I met very important [individual] at the Laughing Skull Festival the year I didn’t even advance [who] I to this day have a pretty close relationship with.

How do (did) you typically choose which festivals/contests you enter or perform in?

The reputation of the festival based on just talking to other comics. There are a LOT of festivals that pop up that make a lot of money for the person putting it together that don’t really do much for the comics that have to pay to be in them. That’s upsetting, so I am pretty picky.

I’m not saying every festival has to have promises of boosting your career, but it needs to be well organized and provide lots of social opportunities for fun.

Laughing Skull is great about that—they have lots of parties and outings, and a kickball game, etc. I’ve kind of gone through my “submit to every festival” phase and am pretty picky now. If you have to pay to submit AND there are no accommodations included, it’d have to be really GREAT festival for me to give it a shot.b

Sometimes comedians will avoid applying to (or get upset when denied from) certain festivals and contests. What are some suggestions that may help new comedians understand the process of entering these sorts of events from your experiences?

Obviously it sucks getting rejected from a festival, but I think comics just have to understand how it goes.  As long as they don’t look at the roster and feel like it was an obvious game of unfair playing favorites, then I think they understand. I usually put it out of my mind right after I submit to stuff.  Waiting and hoping doesn’t change anything.

What would you say to newer comedian looking to enter contests or festivals to avoid?

Just make sure your submission video is professional and the best stuff you got. It has to have great sound quality AND it has to look great. You can be killing, but if its shot from a cell phone and a guy’s head keeps popping in front of the camera, it’s annoying to watch and nobody will care how well you’re doing. 

Johnny Beehner
What are things to avoid worrying about in contests?

Winning. You can hope to win, but try not to stress and worry. I know that is way easier said than done, but its true. When I feel like I need or want to win so bad, I perform way worse than when I am laid back and relaxed. Comedy is subjective.

The important thing is doing a good show and being you. Most festivals that have a contest aspect to it, the contest doesn’t mean much, it’s more of a gimmick for the audience to get excited about. They feel like they are witnessing a live reality show.

What is the atmosphere like at these events?

Some comics are chill and some are pacing. It’s fun because they are usually GREAT shows. Everyone wants to do their best and is on their game so the audience really gets a great show. 

Is it best to submit with friends or alone or does it matter?

I like both. I have done it both ways. I used to do it alone and took them really seriously and got stressed if someone wanted to do something that prevented me from focusing, but now I try to go with friends. I did Laughing Skull with my good buddy, Mike Merryfield last year and this year. We both have pretty good attitudes about not caring what happens. Last year we both got knocked out right away and had a blast.  This year, Mike didn’t advance and I made it to the finals and it was fine. 

How often are practical jokes played between comedians during these events? What are some you’ve pulled on your fellow comedians?

 

Ha. Not a whole lot of pranks other than farting in someone’s face when they are sleeping and stealing each others phones to post horrible facebook status’s on each other’s fb accounts. This day in age, at these festivals, it’s a lot of incestual podcasting taking place. Everyone has a podcast. In fact, if you wanna hear what happens at comedy festivals, listen to Mike Merryfield’s Irrelevant Radio Podcast. We recorded a bunch this year and last year festivals. Some with industry, and some where we were super drunk and just making each other laugh at 3am.

 

If you’d like to find information for upcoming Johnny Beehner events check www.johnnybeehner.com. You can also grab Johnny’s album ‘Tiny Weiner’ on iTunes! Connect and Follow Johnny on Twitter @johnnycomic.

Don’t forget to check out information on The Milwaukee Comedy Festival!

 

Recycling jokes

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.

Improvised musical review

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.

Pony up to Timmy Williams

A camera, an idea, and a method to reach an audience are the basic ingredients for sketch comedy. Success can be an instant or a result of consistently creating quality material for audiences to enjoy and share. So if creating content is an easy task today than how does a group (or an individual) become successful in comedy?

Milwaukee Comedy got the chance to ask some questions to Sketch and Stand up performer Timmy Williams (of The Whitest Kids U’ Know) about the current shape of sketch comedy in today’s culture.  Williams’ provides some great information for sketch groups and/or people looking to start working on building their sketch career!Whitest Kids U Know

(Milwaukee Comedy)—What do you think the current state of the sketch scene in the comedy world?

(Williams)—Sketch comedy is in a great place right now.  Anybody anywhere can come up with an idea and shoot it and upload it to the Internet in a matter of hours.  This has changed the game considerably because Joe Schmo in Buttzville has just has much chance of accruing a million hits as a bunch of celebrities on Funny Or Die. 

The ease of getting your comedy to the masses has also made comedians become jack-of-all-trades; many stand-ups make sketches on the side, and vice versa.

How does a sketch group get noticed? What worked with The Whitest Kids You Know?

If you want to get noticed, you need to make stuff all the time.  With WKUK we were uploading videos online and writing new live sketches constantly for years.  The more quality stuff you can put out there, the more likely someone will see you.

How does a sketch group developed characters? What makes the process fun for the group to write out a sketch? How does a sketch group (or stand up comedians) judge their work before it seen by an audience?

With Whitest Kids we never worried too much about recurring characters.  We focused on our actual personalities and kind of exaggerating those and making those the characters.  That's why we don't really have ‘named characters’ that show up in tons of sketches, but you know that if you see a "Darren Girl" that it will be different than a "Zach Girl" or a "Trevor Girl." 

As far as judging your material, it's easier with sketch writing, because we always had four other people in the room deciding what worked.  We had a general rule that anything we would release had to make all five of us laugh.  That democratic process really helps control the quality.  With stand-up you think you have something but don't know until you get on a stage and throw it out in front of people, so it's a little more dangerous that way.

What characters do you enjoy playing? Do you have any characters or sketches you really like, but never have aired?

We have some stuff that never aired for one reason or another, and a lot of it involved harm coming to children (oops)!  There is one sketch called "Good Cop, Terrible Cop" that didn't air but may have been on a DVD, but I played this cartoonish Italian guy and it was very over-the-top and since I didn't get to do tons of accents on the show I really liked playing that guy.  Other than that, I like playing the dumb innocent characters, which is kind of my niche in the group since it's an exaggerated version of myself.  There are a few times I've gotten to play a jerk or an asshole and really enjoyed that too.

How does sketch writing differ from stand up writing? What's the most challenging difference between performing stand up verse sketch? Does one influence the other and vice versa? What defines a bit verse a sketch–how do they develop?

Timmy WilliamsThe big difference between sketch and stand-up to me is the concept of "safety in numbers."  When you write with a group, you have the other people's ideas and opinions to help shape your material.  When you write stand-up it's all you and anything that doesn't work is your fault.  Same goes for live performance.  If I forget a line onstage in a Whitest Kids show, someone else can say my line or ad-lib something else and keep things moving; if I forget a line in stand-up I just stand there looking stupid.

I think a bit and a sketch develop similarly, at least for me.  They start out with a one-word or one-line idea and blossom from there, and you just hammer it and hammer it until they're perfect-ish.  I have learned to write out my stand-up jokes as more of a sketch script and that has certainly made them better.

What are some of the biggest problems in the writer's room? How do they get resolved?

I have mentioned the many strengths of writing with other people, but the biggest weakness is when someone doesn't agree with something that you just know is funny.  You try and try to convince them but they're just not having it.  In Whitest Kids we rarely put anything through that we didn't all agree with, so sometimes that one person not being convinced has prevented ideas from happening.  And that's fine, because that's why we're a group.  The Whitest Kids is a sum of its parts and if we let everyone push through everything they wanted it would just seem like five separate people doing their own things under a banner.  By letting the group control the quality things are more streamlined and I think our material has a unique voice that only comes from five people's brains coming together instead of fighting for dominance.  There's always time to do your own stuff later.

How would a group get rid of a 'toxic' member?

I don't know how a group would get rid of a toxic member.  If you find out would you let me know?  I'm really sick of Sam.

What sort of advice can you offer individuals looking to put together or join a sketch group?

Just do it.  Get your buddies together some time when you're all free, start writing things down and shooting them and putting them online.  Being "good" takes time but it really is that easy to start.  Perform live!   It's really fun and makes you better.  Chances are you can find somewhere to perform no matter where you live.  The main thing though is to just try it.

You can catch Timmy Williams at Pony’s Bar and Grill (5132 S Packard Ave—Cudahy, WI) on Sunday, April 13th at 830pm. The show is hosted by local comedian Tyler Menz and featuring comedy from Alice Galloway and Zach Peterson.  Tickets can be purchased at Pony’s during business hours (3pm-close) or by calling (414) 975 5556.

  • 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!

Archives