Tyler Menz is a busy man. When he’s not shaping young minds in his day job, the teacher moonlights in a variety of comedic persuasions. He’s a regular at open mics around Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago between his regular appearances in local showcases. Beyond the expanses of his stand-up work, Menz also co-writes, co-produces, and co-stars in bi-monthly late night variety experience, The Goodnight Milwaukee Show.
Though it’s adding to his cluster of comic ventures, Menz will surely find time to eat while working on his latest production. The Food Truck strives to mix stand-up comedy, music, and a local street food purveyor at Club Garibaldi. Before the inaugural edition of the tasty take on the traditional stand-up showcase, Milwaukee Record spoke to The Food Truck’s co-producer to get the skinny on the eating-oriented entertainment experience.
Milwaukee Record: Can you explain the concept of Food Truck?
Tyler Menz: My neighbor is Sean from Twin Brother, and he’d seen me do comedy a couple times at open mics in Bay View and he books at Garibaldi. He said they’d like to start doing comedy there sometimes, so we booked a night. He have a lot of showcases in the city, like straight stand-up showcases, then we have improv at ComedySportz, so what I kind of envisioned was something fresh—none of it and all of it, you know? It’s not just stand-up and not just improv, but it has elements of both.
I knew we wanted to do something different, so I approached Sammy [Arechar] and we hashed out some ideas and finally settled on Food Truck. It felt it was an all-encompassing show. It’s comedy, music, and food. We’ll have some comedians performing, then Sammy is going to DJ, and we’re going to have a guest food truck outside at each event.
MR: What’s the relationship between comedy and food, if there is any? It’s seems like it’s boosting another local business and, down the road, will expose a local band to a new audience too.
TM: Exactly. I figured if we can help promote a food truck and bring them business, they can help promote the show to their customers too. There’s a symbiosis.
MR: And this one has a Paleo truck?
TM: Yeah it is. We were looking through Yelp! at some different food trucks. They got back to us and they seemed really excited. The guy we talked to said he’d done the open mic at the Comedy Café before, so he’s into comedy. It’s called Urban Caveman, and it’s Paleo food on wheels. It’s the caveman diet, I think—nothing a caveman wouldn’t eat.
MR: You mentioned you’re getting help with the production from Sammy. What does he bring to the show? Why did you look to him for help?
TM: Sammy’s very good at promoting, and I think he has a lot of fresh ideas when it comes to comedy and just doing things different. I thought it would be fun to work with him on this. Liz Ziner has actually hopped on recently and started helping us too. She comes from a marketing background, so she’s really great with stuff like that as well.
MR: It seems like you’re busy with all these other shows, like The Goodnight Milwaukee Show and other showcases. Is the any worry about balancing all the show or is it easy because you’re doing sort of different shit with each?
TM: The Goodnight Milwaukee Show is kind of its own separate thing. I kind of mention it like it exists in its own little universe. As far as writing and producing stuff, yeah, there’s kind of a worry about getting burnt out. But I figure we do Goodnight Milwaukee every other month-ish, but there’s a bunch of us working on that. The Food Truck was just kind of an opportunity I jumped at.
MR: And this will be a monthly series? It might be too early to say, but what are your hopes for it going forward?
TM: My idea is quarterly. I’d like to do four times a year, but I can’t say for sure. It depends on what [Club Garibaldi] lets us do.
MR: Speaking of the venue, what’s the importance of bringing a different art form to a place it wasn’t before?
TM: Hopefully we can draw a new crowd and perform for people who don’t necessarily go out to see comedy. I know Ryan Holman has done shows at Cactus Club, and those seem to draw a different crowd than would usually come out to Karma or The U.C. I think it’s important to draw in new crowds and give new people an exposure to the comedy scene.
The Food Truck debuts Saturday, September 20 at Club Garibaldi. The show features comedians Sammy Arechar, Nick Hart, Chris Lay, Liz Ziner, and Joe Murphy with a DJ set by Yung Zucchini (Arechar). Cover is $3 online or $5 at the door. The ticket does not include cost of Urban Caveman food.