The Open Mike is Waiting for You

A wide range of clubs offer open mike nights for budding comics, and cheap laughs for patrons.

By - Feb 20th, 2014 02:17 pm
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They say everybody’s a comedian. While Carlos Mencia quickly disproves that claim, there’s no shortage of places for people in town to prove its true. Milwaukee has many local bars, cafes, restaurants and comedy clubs that open their stages (or vacant corners) to the masses to allow aspiring area comics a venue  and an “open mic,” as the clubs label it, to crack some jokes and a locale for audiences to see these budding humorists, all without an admission price.


Bremen Café – 8:30 PM (sign up at 8 PM)

When he’s not co-hosting the young-but-beloved “Goodnight Milwaukee Show,” Jake Kornely is the weekly host at Riverwest’s Bremen Café every Monday. It’s brazenly billed as “The Best Monday Night Comedy Show in Riverwest That’s Done Before Letterman Starts.” Coincidentally, it’s also Ladies Night, with $2 beers and rail cocktails for women. Most women love a good sense of humor, right? (901 E. Clarke St.)


Down & Over Pub – 9 PM 

Bay View’s Down & Over Pub wears a lot of hats, as an occasional swing dance site, karaoke lounge, rock ‘n roll venue and sports bar. But every Tuesday night it becomes a comedy club. All are welcome to perform five minutes, and the talent level varies drastically from week to week. However, regular drop-ins by respected locals like Mario Robinson, Ryan Mason, Ryan Lowe, Chastity Washington, Tyler Menz, Gary Zajackowski and weekly host Christopher Schmidt balance out the beginners. No matter who takes the stage, $1 cans of Pabst and $2 Point “Big Charlie” tallboys are present every week. (2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.)

Monkey’s Caribbean Grill – 7:30 PM (sign up at 7 PM)

If Bay View is too far away, if you’re looking for a few extra minutes to refine that new bit or you just need a few laughs to help you come to terms with being in West Allis (kidding, ‘Stallis!), Monkey’s Caribbean Grill has comedy fans covered. Host Shawn Shelnutt runs a tight ship, with three-minute sets. Everyone is welcome, so there’s no telling what you’ll get. (8028 W. National Ave., West Allis)


Karma Bar – 8 PM

Each Wednesday, Milwaukee based comedy collective Caste Of Killers hosts a comedy showcase in the lower level of the Karma Bar & Grill. The group’s weekend shows highlight some of the best stand-up comedians in Milwaukee, as well as some from Chicago and Madison. Some of those vaunted locals highlighted in those showcases were likely sired in the same cozy depths of the bar and grill during C.O.K.’s weekly open mic. Come and see Caste members work out new material, see fresh faces or try it out for yourself. (600 E. Ogden Ave.)

Milwaukee’s Comedy Café – 8 PM, last Wednesday of the month

Milwaukee-based comedian Ryan Holman tours. He frequents Cactus Club’s comedy and music show, and is days away from a gig at the Pabst Theater. Each month, the active and hilarious comic curates an open mic at what is surely the town’s best comedy club… on Brady Street. Eight pre-selected performers (more like “open enrollment” mic, you might say) perform five-minute sets as they compete for the grand prize of $25 and a five-minute guest spot during an upcoming Thursday show. If you like comedy and hate two-drink minimums, give it a shot. (615 E. Brady St.)

Art Bar. Photo by Nastassia Putz.

Art Bar. Photo by Nastassia Putz.


Art Bar – 9 PM (sign up at 8:30 PM), every 2nd and 4th Thursday

Riverwest watering hole Art Bar caters to all the finer arts: painting, sculpture, music, beer bong bingo and comedy. Wait… beer bong bingo? Where was I? Oh yeah, comedy! The semi-monthly Art Bar comedy night brings an eclectic mix of Art Bar fixtures and new comics who are in search of laughs and $3 mystery beers. (722 E. Burleigh St.)

The Curve – 7:30 PM (sign in at 7)

Though The Curve (née O’Brady’s) just opened this winter, it’s already becoming a favorite in the local comedy community. The cozy, welcoming neighborhood tavern recently launched its Thursday comedy night. Early returns found noted Milwaukee funnymen Erik Koconis and Eric Thorson making their way back to the curve between Brady and Water streets. Oh… The Curve, I get it now. (1634 N. Water St.)


Paulie’s Beer Hall – 7:15 PM (sign up at 7 PM)

If you missed Caste Of Killers’ Wednesday open mic, or if you need your next fix and can’t wait a week, you’re in luck. The collective heads west to grant greenhorns and semi-pro stand-ups stage time on the weekend. (1430 S. 81st St., West Allis)


Rounding Third – 7:30 PM (sign up at 7 PM)

The “Dangerously Strong” open mic at Rounding Third Bar and Grill is among the longest running in town. Enjoy (or supply!) some locally sourced laughs at the Milwaukee sports bar. Free pizza (while it lasts) and sale-priced appetizers make the prospect even more exciting. (6317 W. Bluemound Ave.)

0 thoughts on “Comedy: The Open Mike is Waiting for You”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this comprehensive list of free comedy shows around town! Everyone needs to laugh, and those who haven’t tried it should definitely come and be part of the audience at one of these shows (I did this in the past and will be doing it in the future!).

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