It’s another alternate Tuesday, which means it’s time for an Open Improv at Milwaukee’s Underground Collaborative.
Stretch your improvisational tendons at this bi-weekly jam, led by experienced comedians – so you know it’s going to be safe.
The fun begins at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the U.C., 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. It costs only $3 per session. The experience is priceless. It’s improv. Who knows what’ll happen?
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.
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.
Most comedy goers know about open mics. That’s where someone puts a microphone on a bare stage in a club or a bar and stand-up comedians of various proficiency practice their craft. It gives veterans a chance to work on new material and wannabes a chance to just try it out.
Well, Milwaukee also has an open improv, where performers of various proficiency can check and develop their improvisational comedy skills.
It every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. It costs $3 to participate, even less to watch. But why watch when you can join in?
This Wednesday, Sept. 4, the session will be guided by Jared Stepp, who recently directed Robby McGhee‘s original puppet musical “The Burden of Being.” Jared also coaches the Milwaukee improv troupe Tall Boys, and he honchoed MIlwaukee’s 48-hour film project.
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.
Milwaukee is a hotbed of improvisational comedy. Not only is it the home of ComedySportz, which started here nearly 30 years ago and has spread internationally. But it is also where Patrick Schmitz is based.
Among Patrick’s accomplishments is assembling and coaching Organized Chaos, a team of more than 100 schoolchildren at the renowned First Stage childen’s theater. Patrick has performed and taught improv at ComedySportz, trained in improv at Second City and IO in Chicago and facilitated open-improv jams and workshops for adults.
But enough about Patrick (although there’s more). Now about an opportunity to study with him.
Every Tuesday night for six weeks, from June 18 to July 23, Patrick is teaching a workshop called “Improvisational One-Act Play.”
Classes meet from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., lower level. The fee is $50 for the entire six weeks or $10 per class.
According to Patrick, the workshop centers on the monomyth formula that maps out the archetypal storyline running through ancient myths, world religions, classic literature and blockbuster movies.
Patrick says via email that class work includes “creative rapid-fire responses and spontaneous dialogue/role play. Students learn to act out interesting and effective stories on the spot by listening, reacting, and supporting each other on stage.”
The workshop also emphasizes all the basic of of improv, such as character work, story telling and acting spontaneously.
Email Patrick by Friday, June 14, to let him know you’re interested. Spots are limited.
If you have had to type the word “improv” as much as we have, you’ll know that AutoCorrect always insists on slapping an “e” on the end.
Maybe that’s because AutoCorrect considers the practice of improvisational comedy as a way to improve one’s attentiveness and communication skills and stage mojo.
Maybe not. AutoCorrect sort of rubs against the go-with-the-flow improv tenet of always responding, “Yes, and…”
Anyway, for $3 a session, Milwaukee Comedy is offering a weekly Wednesday night Open Improv. It starts at 7 p.m. and ends around 9 p.m. at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Lower Level.
And it’s open, which means anyone of any skill level or experience is welcome.
Ask about the discount card – $10 for five sessions.