One of our favorite Christmas stories – or anytime, really – is the classic “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens.
Especially in the video form, the tale takes on so many interpretations: Mr. Magoo, Alastair Sim, The Muppets, George C. Scott, Arthur Fonzarelli – and on and on.
It is such an endearing and timeless yarn that anything invoking the name of Dickens gets our attention, which brings us to the Alchemist Theatre, in Milwaukee’s Bay View.
“Kick in the Dickens” is back for another run, with original songs, comedy routines, improvisation and a one-act holiday play based on audience suggestions.
From Facebook: “Some of Milwaukee’s top improvisers, comedic actors, playwrights and songwriters have come together to create this fun filled evening of holiday mayhem!”
Dickens has 14 shows beginning Thursday, Dec. 6, and running through Saturday, Dec. 28. Please click here for more information and to order $19 tickets.
Yet another option for Milwaukee comedy fans to round out the last two weekends in November is a play debuting at the Boulevard Theatre.
It’s called “The Olde Garde,” and according to advance publicity, it’s a satire that
“relates the tale of a once-thriving theatre company… which is floundering on arid fiscal shores, due to one too many negative reviews by a crusty, power-mad critic, shrinking audience numbers and a general loss of once-youthful passion.”
It’s written by Milwaukee newsman Bruce Murphy and directed by Mark Bucher, who joins a cast that includes
- Jason Will
- Nigel Wade
- Marion Ararujo
- Nicole Gorski
- Christine Horgen and
- Don Lobacz
The show runs seven times from Thursday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Dec. 1. Please click here for more information and $23 tickets.
Keep checking back in this space for updates on the latest open mics for standup comedy in the Milwaukee area.
Usually, those open mics are free. And they serve up a good mix of relatively new comics discovering their voice and established pros working out new material.
Don’t believe us?
Check out the Comedy Show Comedy Show open mic every Monday at 8:30 p.m. at the Bremen Cafe, 901 E. Clarke St.
Every Tuesday, you can travel south of downtown for the free 9 p.m. open mic at the Down & Over Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. This Tuesday, Nov. 5, Christopher Schmidt will be hosting.
That’s just a sampling, but here’s more: The Caste of Killers Comedy Collective is starting a roaming Saturday Night Mics open mic. The first one is at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at Paulie’s Field Trip, 1430 S. 81st St., West Allis. The emcee will be the incomparable Erik Koconis, whose many contributions to Milwaukee comedy include the month Comedy Conclave, where funny people discuss the craft of making people laugh.
Another group recently started bi-weekly colloquia to advance the writing process of comedy. The next get-together for the Writers Block is at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.
And, yes, you may laugh. But they do use words such as conclave and colloquia. They take funny seriously.
Meteorological summer has ended (on Labor Day), but summer-style comedy is still in season in Milwaukee.
In fact, Summerfest is sponsoring a free comedy show at Maier Festival Park. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, you can catch “ComedySportz and Friends.”
From Tap Milwaukee, which is co-sponsoring the event with Miller Lite: “ComedySportz will host an interactive evening of comedy and musical comedy featuring The Improvised Musical with Brian Green. The show is suitable for all ages.”
Parking also is free (Lot G, at Chicago St. and Harbor Drive), plus one free beer for those of drinking age who arrive before 8 p.m.
Also on Tuesday night is the second of three preliminary rounds for the Battle Royale 3 comedy competition sponsored by the Caste of Killers Comedy Collective. That’s happening at the Down and Under Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
You can see 14 or 15 Milwaukee comedians giving it their all in a contest to determine this year’s funniest standup. Their prizes: cash, bragging rights and special appearances.
For details, including a list of who’s gong to perform, go to http://cokcomedy.com/br3.cfm
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.
In case you missed the Milwaukee theatrical premiere of Ryan Lowe’s movie “Moby Dick” earlier this month, there’s one more showing at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the Down & Over Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Ryan, a standout standup comedian, has crafted a puppet extravaganza with the talents of some of Milwaukee’s funniest performers. Admission is $5.
Read the fascinating genesis of Ryan’s work from Colleen Jurkiewicz, at OnMilwaukee.com.
With the end of August comes the last three nights of “The Burden of Being” a coming-of-age puppet musical, written by Robby McGhee.
You know Robby from the Tall Boys improv group and Sketch 22 improv and Greendale Community Theatre productions such as the recently completed “Les Miserables” and, of course, The Improvised Musical (T.I.M.).
Now Robby has created a musical – using puppets – performed by some of Milwaukee’s finest talent, including cast and band members from T.I.M.
Mike Fischer, in a review in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, says, “we see the promise of a writer who combines a wonderfully offbeat sense of humor with a heartfelt awareness of what such humor often hides or deflects, in a world where a brave smile is often our only defense against the burden of being.”
Russ Bickerstaff, in the Shepherd Express, calls “The Burden of Being” “a light, quick musical” punctuated by “sparkling performances in the ensemble.”
The final performances are at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 29-31, at the Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Click here for $17 tickets.
And now for something completely different: An improv troupe will be performing at an open mic for standup comedians.
Look for it at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 6 – Tuesday Night Comedy – The Down & Over Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in Milwaukee’s Bay View. It’s an open mic. Performers need to sign up at 8:30 p.m. Steve Breese is the emcee. And there’s a special appearance by Tall Boys improv. And it’s free.
Tall Boys includes James Boland, Erik Koconis, Robby McGhee and Lee Rowley. They’ll be having a show of their own at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 9, at the Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View. Admission is $5, but there’s a free Tall Boy beer for the first 10 people in the door.
And for poetic justice, the Tall Boys improv show will include standup comedy from Greg Bach, Steve Breese and Scott Boremen.
Because they support one another – because that’s what friends do – the whole entire monthly T.I.M. show is shifting in August to accommodate one of its own.
Robby McGhee is busy debuting his original show, The Burden of Being, at the Alchemist Threatre the last three weekends (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) of August. And because he’s relying on his collaborators from The Improvised Musical, that means T.I.M. can’t perform on the third Thursday of the month – as it has for the last two years.
But here’s the good news: T.I.M. will improvise a full-hour musical from audience suggestions with its veteran thespians and in-house band on Thursday, Aug. 8.
As usual, the show begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be at ComedySportz Milwaukee, 420 S. 1st St. It’s still only $5, and the bar and restaurant will be open. Call Mary at (414) 272-8888 to make reservations.
You know that the 8th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival starts Thursday, Aug. 1 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 4.
That is the largest comedy event in Wisconsin – all year, if not ever. But, hey, Milwaukee is a big and busy enough comedy community that plenty of other funny stuff is happening at the same time.
In fact, out-of-town visitors to the Comedy Fest are welcome to see what else Milwaukee has going on. Including:
- Monday, July 29 – 7:30 p.m. Trivia Stew at the Sherbrooke, 6713 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa. The same whacky, game-showy Trivia Stew format that’s a Sunday night favorite at Lee’s Luxury Lounge, in Bay View. Hosted by Dave Nelsen of ComedySportz. Teams of six. Fabulous prizes.
- Tuesday, July 30 – 9 p.m., Open Mic Comedy at the Down & Over Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Hosted by Matty Field.
- Wednesday, July 31 – 8 p.m., Comedy Café Open Mic Competition, 615 E. Brady St. It’s a monthly contest. Click here for details.
- Thursday, Aug. 1 – 8:30 p.m., Comedy & Music Night at Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave. With stand up from Tom Grimm, Greg Bach, Jessie Mahne, Erik Koconis, a guest set from Chao Feng. Hosted by Ryan Holman. Music by The Gazettiers. $5.
- Thursday, Aug. 1 – 9:30 p.m., Premier of Moby Dick, the feature-length all-puppet film written and directed by Milwaukee comedy genius Ryan Lowe, including an array of Milwaukee musicians, comedians and actors. At the Rosebud Theater, 6823 W. North Ave. $10. Also showing at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, and 10 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 4. Click here to learn more.