You might not think it to watch them from the audience, but comedians generally are very collegial. Individually, they work hard crafting and delivering very personal thoughts in a very public setting – something that the vast majority of people dread. But it’s a nonconformist pursuit that they share with fellow comedians, it’s an unconventional passion that binds them together as they see one another night after night at open mics and showcases and clubs.
Still, threaded into that comedic camaraderie stirs a sense of competition – to win more laughs, to be more popular, to garner more kudos from one’s peers. That’s a dynamic to consider in standup contests: Birds of a feather in cage matches.
And so it is with the 3rd Annual Battle Royale Stand-Up Comedy Competition, presented by Milwaukee’s Caste of Killers Comedy Collective.
Dozens of comedians have registered to match wits for cash, exposure and bragging rights. Mark your calendars for the scheduled bouts:
- Saturday, Sept. 7, Arcade Theatre, in the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.
- Tuesday, Sept. 10, Down & Over Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
- Wednesday, Sept. 18, Milwaukee’s Comedy Café, 615 E. Brady St.
- Culminating in the finals, Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Karma Bar & Grill, 600 E. Ogden Ave.
See the lineups here. Murphy Row won the inaugural contest in 2011. Lara Beitz was the 2012 champion, with Ryan Mason (in a Milwaukee Comedy interview below) as runner-up.
Summer may be a blur, but as Labor Day approaches reflect on all the comedy that Milwaukee has hosted since Memorial Day. “More than ever” is the right answer.
Not only are there more open mics and original productions around town than there were a year ago, but regular monthly shows such as the Variety Hour Happy Hour and the Comedy Arcade Show have joined the mix.
The last Comedy Arcade Show of the summer is at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 29, at 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. The show features standup comedy from Steve Breese,
Nick Ledesma and Dave Labedz.
You’ll also witness the improvised humor of Lee Rowley and Vince Figueroa performing as Busy Bar.
Click here to order discount tickets in advance or pay $10 at the door. If you’re of age and thirsty, ask for a free beer. It’s also BYOB.
So they’ve changed the name of the comedy show “Variety Hour Half-Hour” to just “Variety Hour Happy Hour.” Because apparently some Milwaukee comedy enthusiasts were confused, that’s why.
Some thought the monthly shows at the Arcade Theatre were just 30 minutes long. However, the shows are 60 minutes – one hour – live. And then half of the show is presented via edited videotape on YouTube.
I thought “Variety Hour Half-Hour” was catchy. More importantly, I thought the shows have been funny. They offer a live comedy-oriented mixture of standup, sketch and improvised hilarity showcasing top Milwaukee talent. The shows even include an interview segment with a local comedian.
The next show is at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30, at 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. It features a guest appearance by Sally Arenberg as well as James Boland performing his interactive Dungeons & Dragons-inspired improv game “No Dice.”
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
The “Happy Hour” part of the new title emphasizes both that the show is 60 minutes long and that your face is going to smile. It also suggests alcohol is permitted. It’s BYOB. Or maybe they need to spell that out too.
We’re all looking for deals. So consider this:
You get discounts if you pay in advance (rather than at the door) for admission to one of the kick off events for the 8th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival. Plus, the kick off shows include giveaways, which include a chance to win tickets to the Comedy Fest – Aug. 1-4 at the Next Act Theatre space, 255 S. Water St.
Let’s do the math. You pay $7 online for the Comedy Arcade Show, Thursday, July 25, and save yourself $3 off the price at the door. Besides the experience of seeing Mario Robinson performing standup, Lee Rowley, Vince Figueroa and James Boland doing Busy Bar improv and the debut of Crouch Comedy sketch, your $7 could win you admission to the Fest ($15 online and $18 at the door).
In other words, your $7 ticket could possibly wind up being worth four times what you paid.
Similarly, you could pay $10 online (instead of $15 at the door) for the Variety Hour Half-Hour at 8 p.m., Friday, July 26, or for the Retro Comedy Show at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 27, with chances at winning Comedy Fest admission.
For more information on the kick off shows at 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Lower Level, plus links to tickets, please click here.
For full details on the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, Wisconsin’s largest comedy event, go to festival.milwaukeecomedy.com.
One measure of the progress the Milwaukee comedy scene has made since the first Milwaukee Comedy Festival in 2006 is how vast and varied the kickoff has become.
Even a couple of years ago, the kick off was little more than an improv jam the night before the fest started.
This year entails four full nights of shows featuring standup, improv and sketch comedy. It all begins on Thursday, July 25 with the Comedy Arcade Show followed by the Variety Hour Half-Hour, on Friday, July 26, and the Retro Comedy Night on Saturday, July 27, and a special Milwaukee Comedy Showcase on Wednesday, July 31 - aka Milwaukee Comedy Fest Eve.
Please click here for details on kick off events, including discount advance tickets. (Each of the events includes prizes. Maybe you’ll even win a ticket to the 8th Annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, which runs Aug. 1-4.)
For more on how the local comedy scene has changed since the festival started, check out our Milwaukee Comedy video interview with Matt Kemple and Patrick Schmitz:
Wednesday, June 26, marks the onset of Milwaukee’s Summerfest, which is beloved and renowned as the world’s largest music festival.
But it’s also the place where comedy history took place, playing a pivotal role in the career of George Carlin, as Michael Prigge recently reminded us in the Shepherd Express.
This year’s lineup includes the volcanic Lewis Black on Friday, July 5. Although, as the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy reminded us last month, Black won’t be accompanied by a cavalcade of comedy headliners.
If you’re seeking comedic interludes during the Big Gig, you’ll have plenty of hometown options, including opening night of Summerfest, Wednesday, June 26:
- 7 p.m. - Comedy Xtravaganza, a free showcase, at the envi lounge, 316 Main St., Racine.
- 7 p.m. – Open Improv, a two-hour $3 jam welcoming newbies and veteran improvisers, at the Arcade Theatre, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.
- 8 p.m. – Open Mic Night & Showcase, a monthly competition, free with a two-drink minimum, at the Milwaukee Comedy Cafe, 615 E. Brady St.
The opening weekend of Summerfest also coincides with another Retro Comedy Night on Friday, June 28. But you knew that already.
They say familiarity breeds content. And that’s the big idea behind the monthly Retro Comedy Night.
The good folks at Milwaukee Comedy put together an evening of improvised comedy, standup comedy and sketch comedy. And each performance includes a brand new re-enactment of a nostalgic situation comedy television show, featuring some of Milwaukee’s top comedy talent.
It’s always a surprise which show they’ll stage, but it’s always a golden old favorite that inspires the audience to hark back to the simpler days of youth – when life was free from adult-onset anxieties over car payments and sequestration and climate change.
The next Retro Comedy Night is 8 p.m., Friday, June 28 at the Arcade Theatre, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.
You can click here to pre-order your tickets for $12 apiece and assure yourself a seat in this funny time machine. Or you can take a chance that it hasn’t sold out and pay $15 at the door.
One of the purposes of the Comedy Arcade shows at downtown Milwaukee’s Arcade Theatre is to showcase Milwaukee comedy talent.
The main purpose is to entertain Milwaukee audiences.
This sneak peek at one of the newest Comedy Arcade performers, Josh Balew, should help fill both purposes.
Josh is performing along with Jake Kornely and Kenny DeForest.
Plus, you’ll see the improvisational comedy of Busy Bar, featuring Vince Figueroa and Lee Rowley.
The show is at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 20, at the Arcade Theatre (with its new ceiling), 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.
Get your $10 tickets here http://
From the inventive mind of James Boland comes an improvised evening of comedy, role-playing and monster-slaying.
Welcome to No Dice, in which James serves as game master and leads several audience members through a shared story, Dungeons & Dragons style.
Adds James, via Facebook: “You don’t need to have any experience playing DnD.”
Among other accomplishments, James is one-fourth of the new improv group Tall Boys, which also includes Erik Koconis, who will be performing his clever brand of standup comedy as part of the No Dice show.
The fantastic adventure begins at 8 p.m., Friday, June 21, in the Arcade Theatre, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. (Think of it as the dungeons of Milwaukee’s historic Plankinton Building.) Admission is $10. BYOB.
Cereal connoisseurs know that cinnamon is the spice of Life. But variety is the spice of (lowercase) life.
And so the Comedy Arcade figures to spice up Milwaukee’s night life with a variety of comedy acts on Thursday, June 20, at the Arcade Theatre downtown. Scheduled performers include unnamed improvisational comedy along with the standup art of:
- Josh Ballew
- Jake Kornely
- and Kenny DeForest
From Facebook: “The Comedy Arcade is a collaborative, variety-style comedy showcase in the heart of Milwaukee. This All-In-One Showcase combines various forms of improvisational, sketch, and stand-up comedy from several Midwest premium comedy scenes. This show has a little of everything for every enthusiast of comedy!”
Tickets are $10. You can get yours here: http://
The show starts at 7:30 p.m.
The Arcade Theatre is part of the Underground Collaborative, located in the lower level of 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. (down the circular staircase from T.J. Maxx)