Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you somehow managed to make it through another winter. The season wasn’t without its casualties, though. If you’re anything like us, the seemingly unending cold snap left behind 10-15 extra pounds in the form of a cabin fever/boredom/seasonal depression gut. By now, your window scraper is sitting broken in the back seat of your car, and the idea of sunlight after 4 p.m. is a baffling foreign concept.
Now that spring has officially sprung, we can look back—likely still shaking and with tears in our eyes—and laugh. Over the next few months a heft of humorists will swing through town to help laughter bloom. Milwaukee Record did the heavy lifting, and found 10 promising, unique, and occasionally Cudahy-involving comedy events to check out this spring.
April 8: Colin Quinn at Marcus Center, 7:30 p.m. ($40)
It’s rare that the Marcus Center ventures into the comedic spectrum, so the decision to book no-nonsense, 30-year veteran Colin Quinn is an interesting one. The SNL alumnus and passive host/namesake of cult comic classic Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn is sure to incite more than a few monocles falling haphazardly into gimlets with his acerbic and functionally sloppy brand of time-tested humor, sired in the ruthless basement clubs of New York City.
April 8-9: Don Rickles at Potawatomi Casino Northern Lights Theater, 8 p.m. ($65-$75)
Ironically called “Mr. Warmth,” iconic insult comic Don Rickles is as big a prick as he was when he was eviscerating Friars Club members and Rat Packers with crude comic cuts. And the world still loves him for it. Now just days away from turning 88, Rickles hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down, save for rescheduling this Potawatomi appearance, originally slated for last autumn, for health reasons. Mortality is a fickle bitch, so rather than wish you’d gone after it’s too late, make sure to see Rickles this time around. You won’t be sorry.
April 13: Timmy Williams at Pony’s Bar & Grill, 8 p.m. ($10 adv, $12 door)
While Timmy Williams doesn’t automatically register on even the biggest comic snob’s radar on name alone, the cherubic comedian is best (and let’s be honest, only) known as 20 percent of courageous IFC sketch show The Whitest Kids U’Know, which ran five seasons. There’s no shortage of reasons to go to this. Among them: 1. How does Williams’ sketch background translate to stand-up? 2. Can he succeed without an ensemble and the aid of costumes? 3. What the fuck is Pony’s Bar & Grill in Cudahy? Add in a pair of Omaha openers and local host Tyler Menz, and it’s worth the $12 gamble and journey across Cudahy lines.
April 25: Demetri Martin at Pabst Theater, 7 p.m. ($32.50)
Demetri Martin is a fairly complex comic for a guy with specials called Demetri Martin. Person and Standup Comedian. With Mitch Hedberg’s and Steven Wright’s penchant for intellectual absurdity filtered through a delivery with Todd Barry levels of dryness, Martin shot to the peak of stand-up comedy around 2007. While his music- and sketch-pad-incorporating comedic construct has faded from the limelight in recent years, Martin guarantees an evening of belly laughs with material you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
May 3: Artie Lange at Pabst Theater, 6 p.m. ($39.50)
Embattled MADtv castoff and former Howard Stern cohort Artie Lange battled drug addiction and still managed to emerge from the bottom of a pill vial as one of the world’s funniest humans. Now sober and a popular radio personality in his own right, Lange will escape the broadcast booth for a night of freewheeling, patently obtrusive on-stage humor.
May 6: Kyle Kinane at Shank Hall, 8 p.m. ($15)
Though birthed in the Chicago punk scene and, later, the city’s comedy clubs during the semi-splash of the early aughts, Kyle Kinane’s gruff, whiskey-soaked musings are a huge get for the typically unfunny confines of Shank Hall. Subtly, this could be the comedy show of this young year. Burgeoning local funnyman Jake Kornely opens.
May 8, 11: Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias at Riverside Theater, 7 p.m. (night one) and 6:30 p.m. (night two) ($38.25)
Gabriel Iglesias has been a working comedian since the late ’90s. Hell, he was even on All That alongside Amanda Bynes. His slowly growing career appears to be at its peak now. In the wake of last year’s beloved two-part special, Aloha Fluffy, Iglesias will come to the Riverside Theater twice in the same week, which is a testament to just how much appeal his racial and obesity-centered material has. Really, it’s far from groundbreaking stuff, but it’s sure to please.
May 15: Tracy Morgan at Pabst Theater, 7 p.m. ($31.75)
If he makes it—and we mean if he makes it!—Tracy Morgan can hold his own with any stand-up comedian working today. Narrowly removed from unforgettable stints on SNL and 30 Rock, Morgan is fresh from getting a series ordered from FXX. Based on his most recent Milwaukee appearance, the only thing you can expect from Morgan is an absolutely batshit crazy and uproariously hilarious cocktail doused with equal parts hilarity and insanity.
May 19: Aziz Ansari at Riverside Theater, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ($38)
Despite being an established New York City comic and co-creator and star of the criminally underappreciated Human Giant MTV sketch show, Aziz Ansari didn’t become an oft-mispronounced household name until his RAAAAAAAANDY!!! character rendered him the funniest person in the 5,000-minute Judd Apatow marathon Funny People. From there, he was the first person cast in the incredible ensemble sitcom Parks & Recreation, and he’s worked regularly in numerous funny films (and 30 Minutes Or Less). More than everything else, though, Ansari is a stand-up comic at heart. His Intimate Moments For A Sensual Evening, Dangerously Delicious, and Buried Alive are among the best specials of the 2010s, and his upcoming special (for which he’s now touring) will likely earn a similar distinction. Don’t take our word for it, you have two chances to see him.
June 7, 8, 9: PrideFest: Bruce Vilanch, Sandra Bernhard, and Lisa Lampanelli, $13 day, $30 weekend (various times)
With all due respect to the annual start of Milwaukee’s festival season, PrideFest has sought out so many quality comedians that we need to meld them into one listing. If undersung four-time Emmy-winner Bruce Vilanch isn’t enticing enough to bring you to the Summerfest grounds a month early, feminist icon and Roseanne scene-stealer Sandra Bernhard will also perform, as will “The Queen of Mean” herself, roast regular Ms. Lisa Lampanelli.