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.
One measure of the progress the Milwaukee comedy scene has made since the first Milwaukee Comedy Festival in 2006 is how vast and varied the kickoff has become.
Even a couple of years ago, the kick off was little more than an improv jam the night before the fest started.
This year entails four full nights of shows featuring standup, improv and sketch comedy. It all begins on Thursday, July 25 with the Comedy Arcade Show followed by the Variety Hour Half-Hour, on Friday, July 26, and the Retro Comedy Night on Saturday, July 27, and a special Milwaukee Comedy Showcase on Wednesday, July 31 - aka Milwaukee Comedy Fest Eve.
Please click here for details on kick off events, including discount advance tickets. (Each of the events includes prizes. Maybe you’ll even win a ticket to the 8th Annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, which runs Aug. 1-4.)
For more on how the local comedy scene has changed since the festival started, check out our Milwaukee Comedy video interview with Matt Kemple and Patrick Schmitz:
For years, Patrick Schmitz has made a reputation for himself in Milwaukee teaching improvisational comedy at such venues as ComedySportz and First Stage children’s theater. Now, he’s making a living for himself teaching drama at Brown Deer High School, which he discusses in the YouTube video above.
But, as most teachers, Patrick Schmitz is more than a teacher. He’s a performer. He’s a mentor. And he’s a presenter.
Because at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, Patrick Schmitz presents the 11th edition of his Sketch 22 show.
That’s the one where Milwaukee’s top comedy and theater talent get together and within a 22-hour period create a show featuring 10 genuinely original comedy sketches. Do the math. That’s less than a day.
Sketch 22 unfolds at ComedySportz, 420 S. 1st St. Bring $10 (or a friend with $20) so you can join in the fun. Don’t bring children younger than 14.
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.