Variety Hour: Labor of Laughs

Variety Hour Happy Hour is one of the hardest-working comedy shows you’ll see on a regular basis in Milwaukee.

That’s not to say a lot of preparation and practice does not go into most improv or standup, but this sketch show is scripted and rehearsed ensemble, and it includes live music, thanks to the talents of Brian Bayer at the keyboard.

Those who have witnessed the Variety Hour Happy Hour in the past, including those who saw the performance in the 2014 Milwaukee Comedy Festival, can tell you how entertaining these funny people are:

  • Nick Firer
  • Jake Woelfel
  • Brian Bayer
  • Rob Maass
  • Tess Rutkowski

And the Variety Hour Happy Hour includes special guests, so there’s always someone new to the mix.

Next Variety Hour: 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5 at the Arcade Theatre

Tickets are $10 online or $15 at the door.

Be part of comedy history Saturday

Comedy history is being recorded again in Milwaukee, and you can be there.

Milwaukee Comedy is hanging new curtains in the Arcade Theatre just in time to accommodate the third iteration of the Comedic Release Show.

That’s when eight of the funniest standup comedians in the area perform and their show is recorded to be released on a CD.

The first two Comedic Release Shows packed the place, which made for not only great performances but also super-sounding CDs.

This latest episode of comedy history will be emceed by Tyler Menz*, with eight-minute routines by each of the following:

  • Steve Breese
  • JJ Harris
  • Matty Field
  • Lisan Wood
  • Liz Ziner
  • KC Michelson and
  • Jake Kornely*

Seating is limited. The possibilities are not.

Comedy history, 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 30, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level

Tickets are $8 in advance; $10 at the door.

(*Tyler and Jake also happen to co-host The Good Night Milwaukee Show, with Jake Kornely and Tyler Menz, next appearing on Saturday, Sept. 27.)

(Not the) Same old song and dance

It’s the same only different.

Each third Thursday of the month (as it has been for three years), The Improvised Musical (T.I.M.) performs at 7:30 p.m. at ComedySportz for $5 admission.

But every month, the one-hour Broadway-style musical they perform is different. Because they’re improvised. That’s why.

Each musical is launched by a suggestion yelled out from the audience – which in recent months has filled all the seats in the capacious arena, at 420 S. 1st St. And guess what? This Thursday, Aug. 21, is the third Thursday of the month.

As we informed you earlier, these improvisers of song and dance – and their in-house band – are on their way to the New York Musical Improv Festival in October. That’s just a reminder that these monthly shows in Milwaukee are special.

To make sure you have a spot to sit in, reserve your tickets at (414) 272-8888.

Godfrey brings comedy to Milwaukee Wednesday

Godfrey has made you laugh in such TV shows as “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “30 Rock” and “Louie” and in such movies as Zoolander, Soul Plane and Phat Girlz.

He was raised by immigrant parents in Chicago where he was the class clown and went on to play football at the University of Illinois. He was a soda pop pitchman (“7Up Yours”) and warmed up studio audiences for “The Cosby Show.”

Now Godfrey (Yeah, one name, like Prince and Cher.) is shining his comedy brilliance in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, Aug. 20, Godfrey appears at Milwaukee’s Comedy Café.

Godfrey’s show starts at 8 p.m. at 615 E. Brady St. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door. There’s a two-drink minimum. (Maybe you can make them both 7Ups.)

Godfrey is presented by Milwaukee Comedy. He’ll be accompanied by Milwaukee comedy standouts:

Don’t be the schmuck who has to listen to others raving about Godfrey afterward – or the one who ends up whining that you tried to see him but it was sold out. Get your tickets now.

4 Guys, 1 Exit

If you caught them in their previous engagements, including the conclusion to the 9th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, then you won’t want to miss the talented teenagers in 4 Guys, 1 Mic.

The cast includes four recent Milwaukee high school graduates (and one who’s going to be a junior) who are about to part ways as the four leave town for college.

From Facebook:

“This is it ladies and gentlemen. The Cast and crew of 4 Guys, 1 Mic are heading off into different paths of the world and this is the finale show. Come down and see the 4 Guys perform sketches, improv, music, and much more. The comedy won’t stop coming in this the final show… or is it?”

The guys include:

Sunday afternoon, the guys performed the final show of the four-day Comedy Fest at Next Act Theatre. They improvised a hilarious show about a circus, which closed, appropriately, with the circus owner telling everyone good-bye.

See 4 Guys, 1 Mic at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 15 at ComedySportz.

They’re playing in the Farina Arena, 420 S. 1st St. Doors open at 6:30. Admission is $5 cash.

Romeo & Juliet, for giggles

After his smash-hit spoof of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Milwaukee comedy yoda Patrick Schmitz chose a lesser-known work to parody: Romeo and Juliet.

As he notes in the video interview above (shot at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival), Patrick pays homage to the Shakespeare tragedy while making it a comedy.

The cast is a Milwaukee comedy director’s wish list, including some of Patrick’s talented youngsters from the Organized Chaos improv program at First Stage Theater.

Don’t believe us? Look:

  • Joey Flegel-Mishlove as Romeo
  • Emilie Lozier as Juliet
  • Maxwell Zupke as Benvolio
  • Rich Laguna as Lord Capulet
  • Amanda Eaton as Lady Capulet
  • James Boland as Lord Montague
  • Robby McGhee as Lady Montague
  • Beth Ann the Nurse
  • Kristoffer Puddicombe as Friar Lawrence
  • Tim Higgins as Tybalt
  • Alan Guszkowski as Mercutio
  • Erik Koconis as Paris
  • Alec Sill as Sampson
  • Vince Figueroa as The Chorus & The Apothecary
  • Lee Rowley as Prince Escalus
  • Matthew Garnaas as Abrahm & Friar John
  • Grant Boyer as Gregory & Peter

The Comedy of Romeo & Juliet Kinda Sorta

runs at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 21, Friday, Aug. 22 and Saturday, Aug. 23 at Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St.

Please click here for tickets, which are selling fast. At $12 for Thursday and $15 for Friday and Saturday.

Free Open Improv Wednesday

Fresh off of the fabulous 9th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, Milwaukee Comedy is offering its Free Open Improv Wednesday at Milwaukee Comedy's Arcade Theatre.

The first two Free Open Improv sessions attracted an amazing  mix of veteran and novice improvisers who collaborated in free-flowing impromptu acting. With your participation, the third bi-weekly session, Wednesday, Aug. 13, could be even better.

Free Open Improv begins at 7 p.m., in the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. Just go downstairs from T.J. Maxx at the Grand Avenue Mall.

Join the fun at Free Open Improv Wednesday.

Free Open Improv is run by members of Sketch Marks comedy, which was one of the local groups performing in last weekend's Milwaukee Comedy Festival.

Each of the nine shows in the festival featured improv performers – highlighted by the debut of Three to Turn the Stool at the 10 p.m. Saturday show. Teenage improv groups from First Stage, Brown Deer High School and Milwaukee Rufus King High School also performed on Teen Day Sunday at the festival. 



T.I.M. - The Improvised Moneyraiser

Congratulations to Milwaukee’s T.I.M. (The Improvised Musical) for being selected to perform in The New York Musical Improv Festival (T.N.Y.M.I.F).

How does T.I.M. get there, you ask? Well, it’s going to take more than practice.

That’s why T.I.M. has started a fundraising campaign to send its cast and band and instruments to the 6th annual musical improv event, Oct. 16-19 at the Magnet Theater.

T.I.M., which for three years has been running every third Thursday of the month at ComedySportz, has amassed a loyal local following. In fact, it has been selling out shows lately. Now, as it says on its fundraising page, T.I.M. “could not be more excited to represent the Brew City out in NYC! “

And more:

“Milwaukee isn’t known worldwide for our comedy scene. However, if you’ve been to an improv show, a sketch show, a stand up set you know that we have so much talent here right in our hometown. Representing Milwaukee in New York City is such a huge honor for T.I.M. (The Improvised Musical). We plan to make Milwaukee as proud as we can!”

So, as it does with the title for its improvised musical each month, T.I.M. is seeking help from – you, the audience.

Click here to send T.I.M. to perform in New York.

The goal is $3,000. The campaign ends Sept. 13.

Milwaukee Comedy Fest intro: Teen Comedy Day

The Milwaukee Comedy Festival is not just about putting on four days of shows, featuring a variety of comedy styles and acts both local and out-of-state for Milwaukee audiences.

From its beginning in 2006, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival has sought to foster development in the Milwaukee comedy. For many of the Milwaukee performers in the nine shows (including the kickoff event), the 9th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival will be their first on stage.

Part of developing talent and appreciation for comedy is encouraging young performers.

Once again, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival is scheduling Teen Comedy Day. In past festivals, the teen days have provided some of the best-received comedy of the event, with inspired performances and enthusiastic audiences.

Performers for Teen Comedy Day include:

Organized Chaos (improv) – First Stage Theater Academy has a 7-year-old advanced improv comedy training program. Students work together for a full year on such areas as spontaneity, integrity and leadership.

Brown Deer High School Improv – Students can study improv at Brown Deer with the school’s drama teacher, Patrick Schmitz, who also is the organizer and instructor of Organized Chaos, founder of Sketch 22 and a co-producer of the Milwaukee Comedy Festival.

4 Guys, 1 Mic (sketch) – Sketches stem from characters the four guys have created. “We are a young group and we pride ourselves on our age and we use it for comedy we combine some sketch and improv stuff to create comedy. “

Teen Comedy Day is at 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 10.

Get your $15 tickets by clicking here, or pay $20 at the door. (To see multiple shows in the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, Aug. 7-10, consider an All-Access Pass for $50.)

All the shows are at Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St.

Milwaukee Comedy Fest intro: Kickoff

The Milwaukee Comedy Festival runs from Thursday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 10. But it really starts at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Because the kickoff event will be just as worth seeing as the other nine shows. That’s why.

Unlike the other nine shows, the kickoff features only local talent, instead of a mix of local and out-of-towners. It’s called the Milwaukee Comedy Showcase.

And here’s who’s scheduled to appear:

After School Special, improv – Here’s a bunch of Milwaukee-reared comedians who studied improv through First Stage’s Organized Chaos and now are a few years past high school, so therefore odder and wiser. Joel Boyd, Kevin Gerrity, Nevin Langhus and Anna Wolfe have continued to practice their funny stuff away in the interim. Their reunion should be a real treat.

Crouch Comedy, sketch – These clowns also met through improv workshops and liked performing together so much they decided to form a sketch group. You probably recognize some of them from professional ComedySportz matches. The Crouch cast includes Laura Bialek, Bradley Colmerauer, Carly Malison, Evan Schroeder, Morgan Tremper, Jon Waldbauer and Pami Zorko. Their slogan: “Crouch Comedy doesn’t take comedy sitting down, or standing up!”

The Goodnight Milwaukee Show, sketch and standup – Standup comedians Jake Kornely and Tyler Menz perform a Milwaukee-centered live, late-night talk show with guests and gags and games and jokes. It’s just like Conan, Jimmy or Jimmy except it’s got two heads.

We’ll say this about the kickoff show: It’s the best bargain of the fest.

Click here to get $8 kickoff tickets, or pay $10 at the door.

The kickoff and the whole Milwaukee Comedy Festival are at Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St.

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