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.
As the days shrink shorter and the nights grow longer, they remind us that we’re nearing Winter Solstice, which rhymes with Soulstice, which is the name of the Milwaukee theater group that’s performing a Steve Martin play Nov. 8-23.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described it, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is a comedy of geniuses – namely, Picasso, Einstein, Martin and you, if you have your wits about you.
The show runs at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays at 3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave., in St. Francis. Adult tickets are $20. For more information, go to the Soulstice Theatre website.
Our pal Brynne Ramella, who wrote a series of blogs for Milwaukee Comedy last spring about an upstart comedy troupe at Marquette University, now is blogging about a two-man improv team in the works.
The two Marquette guys are Chris O’Reilly and Spencer Rose, formerly of Marquette’s 33rd & State sketch group and Studio 013 Refugees improv.
“Marquette has a legacy of some great comedians, and it’s a shame this talent doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.” Brynne writes in her first installment. “As somebody with an interest in the journalistic side of comedy, it breaks my heart to see the audience drinking….uhh lots of soda… at one of the Fugees’ monthly improv shows, while chattering/yelling over the Fugees as they perform. Comedy doesn’t get a whole lot of respect on this campus.”
As Brynne explains, she’ll be documenting efforts by Chris and Spencer to raise the bar on Marquette comedy. Among their plans: a bi-weekly show on campus next semester.
“Since the Studio 013 Refugees were formed about 15 years ago, I don’t think anyone has really attempted to revamp comedy at Marquette,” Brynne writes. “I am still learning about this style of improv and I have never freely blogged on my own, so this is unexplored territory for me – that’s ambition, right post-grad employers? In some way, this is an experiment for all three of us.”
To follow the experiment, click here.
By the way, some of Marquette’s “great comedians” Brynne refers to includes Peter Bonerz, Chris Farley and Danny Pudi. Click here to learn 10 things you don’t know about Danny Pudi.
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.
Of the chief forms of comedy, the rarest in Milwaukee is sketch.
We’ve got plenty of standup and improv. But sketch shows have been less frequent. There’s been Sketch 22 twice a year, and Broadminded comedy with their latest production, “Jerks!” scheduled for the last two weekends of November.
Of course, sketch comedy is featured in the Milwaukee Comedy Festival and the Variety Hour Happy Hour and Retro Comedy Night.
More recently, Crouch Comedy has emerged, with a debut performance at a Comedy Arcade Show to kick off the 2013 Comedy Fest. Crouch has another show in the works for December.
Earlier this year, Scott Heaton, of Homegrown Electric Circus, better known for its improv, did a sketch show. Now, Sally Arenberg has tapped Scott and his Circus mates Josh Barto and Evan Koepnick as well as broadminded’s Megan McGee to present a whole new show, which Sally is directing, called ”It Was Embarrassing, So Don’t Ask.”
From Facebook: “Are they laughing with you? Or at you? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. You’ll have to find out at an evening of sketch comedy among the talented cast.”
Weeks away from her bachelor’s degree in acting at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Sally acknowledges that her show fills a bit of a void for sketch comedy. It also is a change of pace, she says from the acting program’s focus on classical theater.
“Comedy is also a big challenge for actors. I think it takes a really talented actor to have the ability to make an audience laugh,” Sally says, and adds, “It’s way different directing comedy. But it’s cool to have this opportunity for other actors too.”
Those actors include:
- Alissa Kluever
- Derrion Brown
- Courtney Howe
- Erika Kirkstein-Zastrow
- Kris Anton
- Keiandra Honeysucker and
- Jeremy Berson
The performances are at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7 through Saturday, Nov. 9, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 10, at 1925 E. Kenilworth Place.
Allison Mcmahon is the assistant director, and the other writers are Dan Perlstein and Joey Sullivan.
General admission is $10. Click here for tickets.
We chuckled recently at a Facebook post by Milwaukee comedian Mario Robinson, in which he asked his father what he would do with a time machine and was answered: I would miss you.
While not exactly a time machine, you’ll get a bonus hour this weekend. Because Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 3, and you have to set your clocks back one hour. That’s why.
So sometime this weekend use that extra 60 minutes like the precious gift it is.
Here’s a suggestion: The Milwaukee Comedy Standup Showcase.
It’s at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 1, at the Karma Bar & Lounge, 600 E. Ogden Ave., and is a production of the Milwaukee-based Caste of Killers Comedy Collective
From Facebook: “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.”
Among the talent on display will be:
- Tom Grimm
- Liza Marie
- Chastity Washington
Click here for half-price early-bird tickets. Or pay $10 at the door.
It’s time well spent.
If you like laughing and free admission and world peace, here’s an event for you.
Hillel Milwaukee is sponsoring an evening of cross-cultural comedy aimed at using humor to address perceived differences. The show is called “Laugh in Peace.”
It’s at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 3, in the ballroom of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union, 2200 E. Kenwood Boulevard.
From Facebook: “a one-of-a-kind comedy show led by Rabbi Bob Alper, and Arab Muslim comedian Mohammed Amer. These fantastic internationally-known comedians will host an evening full of non-political laughter. Following the show will be a Q and A session. You do not want to miss this!”
Advance publicity includes reviews from The New York Times, the Detroit Free Press and even the World Bank.
And if you don’t like laughing, free admission and world peace, what’s wrong with you?
- Brian Aldridge
- Chastity Washington
- Eric Thorson and
- Scott Tolaney
Milwaukee has four very vertical comedians adept at putting audiences very horizontal with laughter.
It’s an improvisational group that calls itself Tall Boys. They are Erik Koconis, Robby McGhee, Lee Rowley and James Boland. Individually, they have an embarrassing wealth of comedy experience. Collectively, they’re unpredictably clever. That’s the wonder of improv.
It just so happens that James, by day, is an educator at Milwaukee’s Tamarack Waldorf School, which happens to be starting a high school next year. To help raise awareness and funds for the high school, the Tall Boys are performing at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, at Tamarack Waldorf, 1150 E. Brady St.
Suggested donations are $10 but, of course, we use the word “donation,” which suggests you have discretion to be generous.
Not only will the Tall Boys (coached by imrpov impresario Jared Stepp) perform, but they will feature the standup comedy, the deadpan brilliance of Ryan Lowe.
We told you this would be quite a week for standup comedy in Milwaukee.
Here are more opportunities to explore and/or contribute to:
- Seriously, Comedy Open Mic, Thursday, Oct. 24, at Fire on Water, 518 N. Water St. Performers sign in at 8:30 p.m. The show, hosted by Jacob E. Miller, starts at 9 p.m.
- The sign-up (8:30 p.m.) and performance times (9 p.m.) are the same Thursday for the bi-weekly Art Bar Open Mic, in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, 722 E. Burleigh St. Your emcee there will be Joshua Balew.
- You can launch your weekend laughing with The Caffeinated Comedy Hour, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at Sherman Perk, 4924 W. Sherman Ave., hosted by Eric Thorson and featuring Sam Barone, Patrick Tomlinson and Darryl Hill.