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.
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.
Most Mondays – including Monday, Oct. 14 – you can find a free comedy show at the Bremen Cafe, 901 E. Clarke St., in Milwaukee’s hip Riverwest neighborhood.
It’s called the Comedy Show Comedy Show Open Mic.
If you’re looking to catch some laughs, the show starts at 8:30 p.m. If you’re looking to try out a new standup routine or practice a set you’ve been working on, sign up for a spot at 8 p.m.
“You can see veteran comedians, as well as first-timers get up on stage and make strangers laugh. Anyone is welcome to sign up and try out their jokes*. New material is encouraged! Bring your friends!”
Plus, it’s free. We said that already.
The Green Bay Packers start their football season for real on Sunday, Sept. 8. We know some Milwaukee people take that pretty seriously and are ripe for some postgame comedy relief.
Here’s the place: The Dangerously Strong Open Mic, at Rounding Third Sports Bar, 6317 W. Bluemound Ave.
They flip the microphone on about 7 p.m. Some of Milwaukee’s most established comedians (as well as up-and-comers) have been known to deliver jokes here. It’s free. And, if you’ve been drinking all afternoon, it’s on the bus line.
Or, you could option for a delay (Football puns intended.) and go to the Comedy Show Comedy Show Open Mic. That’s at 8:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 9, at the Bremen Cafe, 901 E. Clarke St. (Be there at 8 if you want to sign up to participate.) Bring money for refreshments, but admission is free.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s hard to beat a free show with friends gathered around summery beverages at a Milwaukee neighborhood public house.
So we pity anyone who can’t make it to the free open mic comedy at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, at the Down & Over Pub, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Tyler Menz will master the ceremonies, which include musical guest Merle Pinkens.
You won’t know ahead of time what comedy talent will perform, though. Because it’s an open mic. That’s why. Anyone from a nervous novice to a polished professional could take the stage. Maybe even you.
A favorite open mic venue for Milwaukee standup comedians and comedian wannabes is the Killer Open Mic at the Art Bar Riverwest. It’s eclectic. It’s free-wheeling. It’s free.
It’s called Killer because it’s run by those folk at Milwaukee’s Caste of Killers Comedy Collective.
It’s happening the second and fourth Thursdays of every month, and in case you weren’t paying attention, Thursday, June 13, is the second Thursday.
The show starts at 9 p.m. at 722 E. Burleigh Ave. If you want to perform for three- to five-minutes, sign in at 8:30. And, just to repeat, it’s free.
A few years ago, before the indoor smoking ban, I had to bail on an appointment at the Art Bar because I was overcome by all the smoke at that place. That’s the only time I recall being so affected by second-hand smoke. But I mention it only as a segue.
Because also free on Thursday, June 13, Shaker’s Cigar Bar, at 8 p.m., at 422 S. 2nd St., is presenting the comedy stylings of
- Andy Bolton
- Marcos Lara
- Stacy Pawlowski
- and the headliner, the Rev. Ron Swanson.
Jason Evans will be your emcee.