Entering its 10th year, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival is a true local treasure. A four-day celebration (August 6-9) of stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy that melds some of Milwaukee’s best and a cluster of the country’s up-and-comers, the decade-old festival is pretty much the perfect celebration of comedy in Milwaukee each August. Well, almost perfect. When outright asked by Milwaukee Comedy Festival co-founder and Arcade Theater owner Matt Kemple how we’d wish to improve the event, we couldn’t help but acknowledge a sense of urgency and a hint of “so what now?” hanging among performers and attendees in the Arcade Theatre lobby after each show last year. Don’t get us wrong; Milwaukee Record is exceptionally honored to sponsor Milwaukee Comedy Festival. That said, we’re not always content only throwing our logo on something if we feel we can offer more.

With Kemple’s blessing and the assistance/generosity of some comics, we’ve taken our sponsorship role to the next level and (with the support of our friends at Ale Asylum) brought “Extra Laughs” to the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, a four-pack of unorthodox pre- and post-Fest comedy showcases—three of which include local music—happening in four different neighborhoods in as many days. From roasts to wrestling to nerd humor to bands and even a former adult film actress thrown in the mix, these have the makings of being prime festival accents…or fun events on their own. After you examine the official Milwaukee Comedy Festival lineup, take a look at the “Extra Laughs” rundown. Note: All shows are either free or free when a ticket/pass for any Milwaukee Comedy Festival show is presented at the door.


The Roast Of Milwaukee at Bremen Cafe: 9 p.m. music, 10 p.m. comedy (free)
What better way to kick off this run of shows than by gently (or, in some cases, straight-up viciously) ribbing the city we love? After Piles plays songs off its absolutely great Planet Skin and other material, eight outstanding comedians will take some verbal swings at dear old Milwaukee. Some still live here. Others have since moved to New York or Chicago. A few are getting ready to say goodbye. All of them got their start here and are hilarious. Roasters include:

Ryan Mason
Allison Dunne (Chicago)
Sammy Arechar
Damon Millard (Caste Of Killers co-founder, New York)
Liz Ziner (Chicago)
Dylan Payne
Mike Berg
…and host Josh Ballew (Chicago)

More info.


Chuckle-Mania (comedy for the wrestling fan) at Club Garibaldi: 9 p.m. music, 11 p.m. comedy ($5 or free with ticket/pass from any night of comedy fest)
This is easily the weirdest show of our series. At one point, eccentric area comedian Gary Zajackowski had an ultra-specific wrestling-themed showcase booked at Club Garibaldi. Somewhere along the way, the event blew away to parts unknown. We couldn’t resist helping him revive this once-in-a-lifetime show to run in association with the Fest. He rounded up a brawny and varied lineup of funnymen, and we did our best to bring the show to the next level with two of the city’s most enjoyable aural oddities AND a pair of visiting comics—one of whom is a former adult film actress. After Soup Moat opens and Crappy Dracula 2 sets the mood, get a half-nelson of humor (that’s a wrestling term, right?) from:

Christopher Schmidt (reigning Caste Of Killers “Battle Royale” winner)
Gary Zajackowski
Keith Gaustad
Brandon Koss (Oshkosh, Carburetor Comedy Collective)
…and host Phil Davidson (Vermont’s funniest comedian award winner)

Plus non-wrestling guest spots by Alia Janine (former adult film actress) and Jaqi Furback from Whormones Podcast prior to Saturday’s Fest-affiliated live episode recording at Next Act Theatre.

More info.


Comedy Cocktail Hour at Var Gallery: 4 p.m. comedy, 5:30 music ($5 or free with ticket/pass from any night of comedy fest)
Even if you don’t count the Whoremones Podcast recording, Saturday is Milwaukee Comedy Festival’s single busiest day, with shows at 6 p.m, 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. If you’re looking to get an early start on MCF’s most entertaining evening (at least by volume), head down to Var Gallery in Walker’s Point for some drinks from the studio’s fully functional bar, some stand-up from (primarily) out-of-town talent Greg Bach squared away, along with some gorgeous and soul-crushing music from Antler House. Preceding Antler House is:

Sam Ike (Boston)
Jim Zarling (Richmond, VA)
Danny Lobell (Los Angeles)
Sam Gordon (Chicago)
…and host Ramie Makhlouf (“The Big Show” co-host)

More info.


Cthulhu’s Comedy Collective at 42 Lounge: 5 p.m. comedy (free and includes pizza while it lasts)
With the Milwaukee Comedy Festival concluding its 10th year with noted nerd comic Brian Posehn at Turner Hall, it makes sense to preempt the finale with the city’s longest running and finest geek-tinged comedy showcase, Cthulhu’s Comedy Collective. The brainchild of science fiction author Patrick Tomlinson, the series has been running at 42 Lounge and at Midwest conventions since late 2013. Tomlinson has said this might be the showcase’s strongest lineup yet, and we’re inclined to agree. After the best opener imaginable (free Classic Slice pizza), fans can whet their respective appetites for Posehn’s Star Wars and heavy metal zingers with material compliments of:

Tyler Menz
“Loveable Mr.” J.J. Harris
Gena Gephart (Madison)
Toler Wolfe (Madison)
…and host Patrick Tomlinson

More info.

About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.