Monday, Aug. 6, 2012

Milwaukee Comedy Fest Day Three

Wisconsin's Largest Comedy Event rolls into Teen Comedy

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The Milwaukee Comedy Fest opened its third day with its annual Teen Comedy Show. As teen stand-up Adam Crivello was unable to make it, the show consisted entirely of improv. With news having just hit of the brutal tragedy in Oak Creek, I really needed some levity. The Comedy Fest was able to deliver on the Teen Comedy show. . . 

 

The Sunday afternoon crowd was  relatively large for a matinee show. The program opened with an improv act from New York--Grandma Hates Technology. Mike and Jessica Weiss are father and 13 year-old daughter. They do improv. It's not anywhere near as awkward as it sounds. And when Mike and Jessica are on the  right track at the same time, GHT manages some really funny improv. The father/daughter dynamic reaches into some interesting territory that is decidedly outside the expected, which is exactly where improv gets its energy.  There were some slow moments, but the Weisses got to the heart of improv in an  enjoyably novel way on more than one occasion. 

 

The rest of the show were programs that were under the direction of Comedy Fest co-founder Patrick Schmitz. Lights, Camera, Improv! takes a page from an an old improv game that I remember seeing ComedySportz do on occasion. . . an entry is chosen at random from Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide . . . and the troupe does a long-form improv comedy bit from that entry. The entry chosen yesterday afternoon was Pumpkinhead. The narrative the bled out of the cheesy B horror film were more than a bit dark, but strikingly sharp in places. The group features some kids with some very, very sharp comic instincts. Maxwell Zupke, Joey Fliegel-Misholve and Emily Lozier, among others, took turns doing work that occasionally reached toward some of the best of what improv comedy can do. 

 

The show ended with Organized Chaos--a performing group formed out of improv classes Schmitz teaches with First Stage. It's always interesting to see OC during these festivals . . . part of the joy of watching any improv is watching people stumble through awkward comic moments . . . it's kind of weird when those awkward comic moments are occurring to people who haven't spent a lot of time onstage . . . haven't had  the benefit of a whole lot of stage time. There's a kind of honesty that comes out of that kind of comedy that is a great deal of fun to watch if you're in the right frame of mind for it. 

The Milwaukee Comedy Fest continues through August 11th. For more infomation, visit the Comedy Fest online. 

 

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