Milwaukee Comedy Festival
TCD chats with a few of the comedians performing in this year's Milwaukee Comedy Festival before tonight's Kick-Off Party at Next Act Theatre.
Chicago, New York and Los Angeles have traditionally been considered to be the main comedy cities in the United States. Milwaukee is out to change that.
“This collective drive to become the top city for comedy has sort of developed,” said stand-up comedian Ryan Lowe. “The Milwaukee comedy scene has been working super hard to generate some of the best talent in the nation.”
Lowe will be joining a bevy of performers at the 7th Annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival which will be taking over Next Act Theatre’s stage for nine days. From Friday, August 3 to Saturday, August 11, the Brew City will be flooded with stand-up, sketch comedy, improv and comedy workshops.
The Milwaukee Comedy Festival is the largest comedy event in Wisconsin, featuring comedians from across the state and beyond.
Enthusiasm for the festival has been clearly brewing among the performers. Stand-up comic Ryan Holman is amped for nine days of comedy.
“I love to laugh and this place will be full of funny people doing funny things,” he said. “I’m excited because I get to perform and anywhere or anytime I can do that I am happy.”
Stand-up comic Damon Millard is eager to check out the various other forms of comedy that will be performed.
“The festival offers a comic like myself the chance to see all the improv and sketch groups I normally do not get to see or work with,” he said. “I love watching the gears turn in other types of comedians.”
Performer and workshop leader Erik Koconis loves the audiences that support comedy in Milwaukee.
“People in Milwaukee know how to have a good time and yet be fairly polite about it. That’s makes my job as an entertainer very easy,” he said. “I am excited for the festival because it’s such a huge celebration of something I love. And this year it’s grown to a whole new level. It’s sort of like a homecoming too; a lot of the acts are friends I haven’t seen in awhile and all the rest are friends I haven’t met yet.”
Lowe is also happy that the festival is close to home.
“Every minute spent on the road increases the risk of disfigurement in a highway accident,” he said. “There’s an old saying in comedy—’Safety First.’ I think it’s a comedy saying.”
The festival begins with the Kick-Off Party on Thursday, August 2, at 5:30 p.m. There will be live music from RadioMilwaukee’s Marcus Doucette, drink specials and food samples followed by a stand-up performance by Jay Abbondanza and the Retro Comedy Show. Sketch comedian and Retro Comedy Show performer Robby McGhee explains the show’s concept.
“This will be the third “RERUNS” production,” he said. “Earlier this year we performed the pilot episode of “Facts of Life,” and later in the spring we performed an episode of “Three’s Company.” It was a huge success with the audience. Though I cannot give away the series or episode [for Thursday’s event], I can say that I am working with some brilliant actors, and we are under the direction of Matt Kemple himself.”
The Milwaukee Comedy Festival is just one aspect of the movement to turn The Brew City into a top comedy destination, but, as McGhee said, “Milwaukee is a big little city that understands comedy very well.” Come out to the Next Act Theatre and see what all of the buzz is about.
For more on the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, check out Mark Metcalf’s podcast preview of the festival with Matt Kemple, Patrick Schmitz and Melissa Kingston.