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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Being Funny in Milwaukee

Rick Katschke builds an audience

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With an audio podcast called “Host and Guest,” a monthly improv show at the Alchemist Theatre and a recent book release, Rick Katschke seems like he would need to be older than 24. But this funny youngster is already deepening his niche in the Milwaukee comedy scene. What started as a joke quickly exploded into a full-blown dream come true.

How did you get started in the biz?

Basically, I had done a podcast with a friend of mine, and it was just sort of two guys joking around. I wanted to do something more than that, so I looked up decent portable audio recorders. A friend of mine is D.A. Wallach, who is in the band Chester French, and I did my inaugural episode with him. Then from there it was just pitching to different people like, “Hey, I’ve had this Rolling Stone-featured musician on the show.” The one who really opened the door for me was a comedian named Jimmy Pardo. He’s very well connected. The key was D.A. Wallach and Jimmy Pardo.

What makes Rick tick?

When it comes to performers or people that do shows, I’m very specific with my tastes. I’m quick to judge those that might not be that funny but think they are. I really have a passion for obscure things. My favorite group is Trip Shakespeare from the early ’90s, my favorite comedian would have to be Jimmy Pardo and my favorite cult film is Can’t Stop the Music. Those are just some of the many obscure things.

Who has been your favorite or most memorable guest?

I would say that John Munson and Dan Wilson, both of the bands Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare, have been two of my favorite guests. Just because, if you had told me when I was 13 years old I would not only meet them but have them talk to me for an extensive period of time, it would have blown my mind. I just picture my young self being so happy I’ve reached this point.

How did you transition from audio to print? Tell me about your book.

I have an extensive background in improvisational theater. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years. When you do improv, you go up there with nothing. So I thought, “God, why don’t I take that approach to writing a book.” I set a goal of 45 days, 50 days, and I set a goal of five pages a day. I had no outline, nothing like that. The story evolved naturally. It’s like a hybrid of a novel, and essay elements are weaved in. Some of the dialogue was written as if it’s a play. It’s sort of like a mishmash of all these things. I think it’s a really strong representative of who I am as an individual. It’s called Mark Sanders’ Tangential September and can be purchased on Lulu.com.