On Thursday night, the inaugural Cream City Comedy Festival will begin and, in the process, will usher in four days worth of laughs during a total of 11 shows featuring more than 70 comedians performing at nine venues, for exactly NO CHARGE. Any donations solicited will go to benefit NAMI, a mental health foundation. While 11 free comedy shows is awesome on sheer concept alone, the festival—which aspires to raise awareness of the vibrant and growing comedy scene in Milwaukee, as well as the wealth of impressive indie comedians residing in nearby markets—could admittedly be tough to navigate. Unless you’re in the know when it comes to local comedy, the lineup (as great as it truly is) might just look like a bunch of mysterious show titles and names of people you don’t know.

With hopes of shedding some light on the event at large and to help guide those unfamiliar who are with homegrown comedy to the show(s) that best suit(s) them, Milwaukee Record called upon up-and-coming Chicago (by way of Milwaukee) comic and Cream City Comedy Festival co-organizer Liz Ziner to break down exactly what people can expect from each of the event’s staggering 11 showcases.

Thursday, May 12

Yeah Buddy Awesome Time: Festival Kickoff at Club Garibaldi (8 p.m.)
“YBAT is one of the most beloved showcases in the Chicago comedy scene, having built a huge following from their biweekly show in a comic book shop. Every lineup is expertly booked, and this one is no exception—featuring some of the best comics Chicago and Milwaukee have to offer.”

Friday, May 13

Blipsters at Karma Bar & Grill (7:30 p.m.)
“Ever heard of the word Blipster? Or do you know one? Two Chicago stand-up comedians, Felonious Munk and Dave Helem, are hoping to spread knowledge of the Blipster movement to more people with their alternative comedy show ‘Blipster Life.’ The festival lineup features some of the region’s funniest and most unique voices.”

Hot Room at Angelo’s Piano Bar (9 p.m)
“Usually taking place every first Friday of the month at Hybrid, this special CCCF Edition of Hot Room brings the heat to Angelo’s Piano Bar. Expect a mix of the Milwaukee comedy scene’s fresh faces and seasoned veterans.”

Boy Kisses at Hybrid Lounge (10:30 p.m)
“Boy Kisses is a popular Minneapolis comedy showcase that has it all: Stand-up, songs, characters, games, snacks, kisses, small fires, dogs, horses, big fires, knife play, sandals, sketches, vape contests, and prizes. Which of those things will make it into the CCCF? Come to the show to find out.”

Saturday, May 14

Bad Comedy Theatre at Hybrid Lounge (3 p.m.)
“Experienced comedians perform their sets, then take the audience on a stroll down memory lane by showing a clip of their stand-up when they were just starting out, which usually not so hot. Hilarity ensues as they break down their sets using the magic of a remote and a laser pointer.”

Subjective at Var Gallery & Studios (6 p.m.)
“In the Subjective showcase, the comedians are the artists and their sets are the works of art. A curator will present each comic’s ‘Artist Statement’ before their set. Once everyone has performed, the performers as a whole will gather on stage and face the scrutiny of the audience.”

ClamJam at The Jazz Gallery (8 p.m.)
“The ClamJam is a comedy party that combines some of its co-hosts’ favorite things: stand-up from their favorite goofballs, kitschy prizes for everyone, and a little chaos! As if the lineup wasn’t already completely stacked with some of the funniest rascals around, if you put your name in the bucket you might get some stage time, too!”

The 3rd Annual Zucchini Party at Company Brewing (10 p.m.)
“Also known as Sammy [Arechar]’s 3rd Annual Birthday Party, it’s is a celebration of friendship and good vibes, featuring two bands and a DJ set from Yung Zucchini. No need to bring a b-day gift, just come boogie.”

Sunday, May 15

Sorry Not Sorry at Riverwest Public House (2 p.m.)
“Does it get much better than watching comedy over brunch? Start your day off right with this lineup of local favorites and out-of-towners, including a super secret headliner!”

Super Talent Show at Cactus Club (4 p.m.)
“Super Talent Show is a hybrid sketch show and variety extravaganza! Comedians showcase their funniest characters while the three hosts stage elaborate, big cast, high-production sketches in between acts.”

Closing Ceremony at Club Garibaldi (8 p.m.)
“The final show of the inaugural Cream City Comedy Festival is going out with a bang, featuring Festival headliner Nick Vatterott! You might know Nick from his appearances on Conan, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Comics Unleashed, or his own Comedy Central Special, among many other accolades. Nick is one of the best in the business. Come see for yourself.”