The 10th annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival was far and away the event’s biggest and best year yet. The festival’s first three days found comedy fans filling Next Act Theatre while taking in a diverse and altogether talented grouping of stand-up comedians, sketch troupes, and improvisers hailing from all corners of the country and from right here in Milwaukee. If there was any doubt that MCF 2015 was a rousing success, the final night’s festivities absolutely confirmed it, as Brian Posehn—the biggest name to ever to perform in the Milwaukee Comedy Festival—effectively ended the weekend’s events on an especially strong note with a solid hour of side-splitting self-deprecation and comic book references in front of an impressive Sunday night Turner Hall turnout.
Before the veteran alt-comic—and certified Comedian Of Comedy—took the stage, an eclectic cast of openers got the laughs rolling. First, host and Milwaukee comedy scene heavy hitter Ryan Mason turned in a short-but-sweet set full of satisfying material about fatherhood, marriage, and “Mountain Dew puzzle night” before giving way to reigning “Madison’s funniest stand-up comedian” Geoffrey Asmus’ incomparable intellectual absurdity and world capital memorization. Though he was a last-minute add-on, Michigan-based comic Brad Wenzel was a great addition with his arsenal of witty bits about commonplace things like mopeds, Chester Cheetah’s white paws, deceiving theater marquee spacing making him wish Gremlins Fight Club existed, and wondering how dragons cooled down soup.
While the three predecessors were tough acts to follow, Posehn lumbered out on stage and quickly nabbed the decidedly dorky audience’s attention with a timely bit about Hulk Hogan’s mustache being sentient and making the wrestler say racist things. Tone immediately set, Posehn echoed that with a story of his six-year-old son giving him whiplash by kicking him in the face while both were wearing Spider Man masks, which served as a solid transition into the oafish comic’s bread and butter: self-hatred. “If you’re familiar with my act, it’s kind of my thing,” Posehn said. Now 49 years old, he lamented being so out of touch with the world that he no longer understands what “Weird Al” is parodying. From there, Posehn focused his self-directed barbs at his own breasts, saying, “My tits, they’re sweating right now and they didn’t even do anything. They’re just laying on top of my gut like a couple of lazy assholes.”
Even though the majority of Posehn’s material resided in the neighborhood of his man-boobs, his awful eating habits, and having a body that was “built to ruin toilets,” he also made sure to pepper in a long, heated diatribe against hipsters, a graphic rant about wanting to curb stomp Guy Fieri, and—not surprising to anyone with even tangential awareness of his material—nerdy references to Avengers and Dungeons And Dragons. He chased an assertion that watching the Incredible Hulk fighting Loki was a “dick out moment” with a hilarious closer about being accidentally tea-bagged by his son on Father’s Day. With the attentive crowd following him each step of the way, Posehn broke (alleged) protocol and came out for a rare encore, a story about making Shawn “Clown” Crahan from Slipknot sad with an especially cruel joke about a dead band member at a heavy metal roast. Whether they were metalheads, comic book aficionados, or just comedy nuts with a soft spot for a well-crafted dick joke, Brian Posehn offered something for everyone and, in doing so, put a bow on the best Milwaukee Comedy Festival yet.