A little-known – or maybe just ignored – free comedy event in Milwaukee is the weekly ComedySportz Recreational League. It’s one of the offshoots of Milwaukee-grown ComedySportz, the international improvisational comedy franchise that turns 30 next year.
The Rec League features amateur improvisers – meaning they don’t get paid and they do it for the love of it. They have teams and “compete” in matches with games from the ComedySportz repertoire that are based on suggestions from the audience. Each match is officiated by a professional ComedySportz comedian, usually Dave Bogan or Dave Nelsen.
This Sunday, Dec. 8, the Rec League playoffs begin with matches every hour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The audience decides which teams win and advance to the semi-final rounds on Sunday, Dec. 15.
The playoffs are free and open to the public at 420 S. 1st St.
After all your Thanksgiving stuffing and getting fed up with relatives and football and holiday shopping, you deserve some comedy. Milwaukee’s got it for you.
Consider the Black Friday debut of a new long-form improvisational comedy group, The Faculty. It features public school teachers Anna Figlesthaler, Kristin Althoff and Lindsey Walcott.
The Faculty are appearing on the same bill as the improv ensemble of Lee Rowley, Vince Figueroa and James Boland, performing as Busy Bar.
That’s at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29, at the ComedySportz garage venue, 420 S. 1st St. It’s only $5.
You think your Thanksgiving gatherings were humorous? How about the Milwaukee comedy artists cooking up a big mess of giggles and guffaws for you to feast on this weekend! Among your options:
Indulge yourself at the closing weekend of Jerks!, the latest sketch comedy show from Milwaukee’s broadminded Comedy. Check out their interview on WITI-TV. The first two shows sold out, so click here for tickets for 7:30 p.m. shows on Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30, at the Arcade Theatre, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level.
Dig into ComedySportz - just rated as one of the top comedy schools in the country. Click here for more information on ComedySportz’s family-friendly competitive improv shows Friday and Saturday nights as well as Saturday afternoon. They’re all at 420 S. 1st St.
Or you could take a shot at Bye Bye Liver: The Milwaukee Drinking Play, which includes sketch comedy and drinking games. It starts at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, at the ComedySportz garage venue. Click here for more information.
And you can top it off at the Midnite Show, the uncensored adult-only improv event that happens every Saturday night/Sunday morning, also at ComedySportz.
We’re delighted to announce the debut of a new original Broadway-style musical comedy – and it’s one night only – and only in Milwaukee.
That’s about all we can tell you, though, because we don’t know the name of the musical or what it’s about.
Even the actors, who have been rehearsing for weeks, don’t know anything about the story or the characters. Nor are the five musicians in the in-house band aware of any of the pieces they’ll perform.
Because it’s The Improvised Musical. That’s why. The hour-long monthly singing-dancing-comedy extravaganza that’s made up on the spot, based on a suggestion from the audience.
In its two and a half years of third-Thursday performances, T.I.M. has been adding to its band (The Improvised Band) and growing its cast while its following has been multiplying.
And we can tell you this much, T.I.M. starts at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, at ComedySportz, 420 S. 1st St. Admission is only $5 cash. The ComedySportz bar and restaurant will be open for the event.
To make sure you get a seat, you might want to make a reservation by calling 414-272-8888 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The hub of Milwaukee’s improvised comedy is housing a two-day workshop this weekend for sketch comedy writers.
Kevin McDonald – the comedian, actor and voice artist best known as a cast member of “Kids in the Hall” – is presenting a 14-hour how-to on creating comedy sketches from improv.
“I get students to do improv and then help teach them to turn their improv into actual comedy sketches (like the Kids in the Hall used to do),” McDonald says in a statement. “So basically, I’m teaching to write through improv.”
McDonald has been touring the U.S. and Canada teaching the workshop. And his Milwaukee stop, at ComedySportz, 420 S. 1st St., still has spaces available.
The class costs $300 and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 16 and 17.
For more information and to reserve a spot, please call ComedySportz during business hours at (414) 272-8888.
Another Tuesday night Open Improv kicks off a busy week in improvisational comedy in Milwaukee.
The Open Improv welcomes all improvisers at all levels of experience. It runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. The bi-weekly session costs $3. But that’s just the beginning.
- There’s The Improvised Musical (T.I.M.), with its monthly show at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17, at ComedySportz, 420 S. 1st St. Just as it sounds, it’s an entire musical improvised from an audience suggestion. Admission is $5.
- If you go early to T.I.M., peek in on the ComedySportz Rec League’s Game-O-Matic Showcase. That’s at 7 p.m. Thursday, in the auxiliary theater at ComedySportz, 420 S. 1st St. And it’s free. The Game-O-Matic debuts new improv games created by rec league teams (which otherwise perform free on Sunday afternoons – see below).
- Of course, ComedySportz is the wellspring of Milwaukee improv. So let’s not forget about those family-friendly shows, which run at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday as well as the 3 p.m. Saturday matinee.
- Then there’s the Midnite Show, adult-friendly improv, which starts at 11:59 p.m. each Saturday – also at ComedyzSportz. Tickets are $5.
- And the week ends with the ComedySportz Rec League – three free matches supervised by veteran ComedySportz professional improvisers. The games begin at noon, also at 420 S. 1st St.
A whole new season of laughter begins Sunday, Sept. 15, for the ComedySportz Rec League. The semi-annual gathering of improvisers-in-training involves weekly matches akin to the professional ComedySportz shows Milwaukeeans have been embracing for nearly 30 years.
It costs the public nothing to attend the Sunday afternoon contests at ComedySportz, 420 S. 1st St.
Teams pay $350 each to play in the league. Anyone who has had a couple of ComedySportz workshops (101 and 102) is eligible to play. Registration begins at 10 a.m. Sunday with a two-hour workshop that finishes just in time to catch the Packers game.
With the impact ComedySportz has made on training and developing Milwaukee comedytalent over its nearly 30 years, Milwaukee is a hotbed for improv. That’s what makes the weekly Open Improv so unpredictably invigorating. Performers never know who’s going to show up. There can be such a range from novice to pro that everyone learns something from the sessions.
And if you haven’t been in a while, Open Improv has moved from Wednesdays to Tuesdays! It’s only $3 and now runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level (downstairs from TJ Maxx).
Less regularly, you can watch one of Milwaukee’s longest-running improv troupes perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14. That’s when Homegrown Electric Circus has its latest show at ComedySportz, 420 S. 1st St. As the four guys explain on Facebook, their performances have become rarer:
“Homegrown Electric Circus, that Halley’s comet of improv groups, has had quite the difficult time finding themselves in the same room over the summer. With busy schedules filled with weddings, theatre obligations, weddings, road trips to see Paul McCartney, and weddings (seriously are there any single people left after this summer?) pinning down a time when Josh Barto, Scott Heaton, Evan Koepnick, and Mike Walker could perform some improv comedy has proven to be quite difficult.”
If you didn’t see them at the Milwaukee Comedy Festival last month, or if you’ve missed any of them individually at an Open Improv, Saturday is your chance to catch Homegrown. Hey, even if you’ve seen them before, Saturday’s show will be way different. Because it’s improv, that’s why.
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
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.