Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012

Last Night at the 2012 Milwaukee Comedy Festival

The 7th Annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival Closes out on a Saturday night with two shows.

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The Seventh Annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival came to an end last night. It was an evening of two shows. The early show on the evening consisted of standup followed by improv followed by sketch comedy. The strange trinity of three different comic is genres opening the final evening of the seventh annual comedy Festival. As had been the case with most evenings on the festival the early show was introduced with music by the jazz group Filtharmonic. Over the many days of the festival of their music has been a smooth and the funky slide into the funny.

 

The opening act on the early show featured the unabashedly apologetic standup comedy of Ryan Holman. While the comedy itself is not particularly sophisticated, Holman's stage presence is charming enough to sell his punchlines.

 

 

With Holman Finished with his routine, the early program slid into the improv work of Al & Jim's One Man Show. This is the product of Alex Grindeland and Jim Boland. It's a long form improv at featuring the two talented improv comics moving individually through works improvised from ideas developed entirely on their own and then fused together towards the end of the act. An audience member picked a word at random from the art of war. That word was forces.The two comics have I'll really interesting dynamic that mixes physical improv with some rather sophisticated and intellectually stimulating ideas. The act ends up falling somewhere in between satisfying in a couple of different ways on a few different levels. This would be interesting to see explored in greater depth however half of the act is now starting a comedy sports in Seattle. Grindeland recently moved to the West Coast to do so. Here's wishing a sharp comic mind good luck out there.

 

 

The opening program on the final evening of the seventh annual Milwaukee comedy festival ended with sketch comedy from another Chicago group. Butch LaRue  performs material that is sketch comedy by way of improv. It has the free written fabrication of sketch comedy combined with the superficial enjoyments of improv.

 

 

The material that this group is working from hands to be the more heavily father and of sketch comedy and comedy in general. There was a bit featuring someone drawn from the audience as a rookie cop alongside one of the sketch artists. It was cute but not particularly funny. The same could be said of much of the rest of the act. These seem like really nice people. It's too bad their material isn't more dynamic. One senses that they want to go in an interesting direction but they haven't quite reached that direction yet. The work of this group is more fun than funny. That being said the overall experience is fun and the audience did seem to genuinely enjoy itself.

 

The festival rounded out with a 10 PM program featuring standup improv and more improv.

 

The standup comedy in question came courtesy of Alex Grindeland. He was working on some new material that was received with something of a mixed reaction. Grindeland has a really strong charisma on stage that serves his material well. This works particularly well as his style of delivery is very conversational even when it's clear that the material is stuff that he's done many many times before. 

 

The improv that closed out the seventh annual Milwaukee comedy fest was received by a remarkable amount of energy from the audience. This was particularly good for the final program of the festival as to improv groups in question were doing for warm improv. The rapid pace of that kind of comedy feeds really well on a high-energy audience.

 

The first group to receive that energy was the group from ComedySportz' Midnite ShowThe old familiar or comedy sports improv game were fed through an interesting mix of talent. These are solidly professional improv comics doing a solidly entertaining for an appreciative audience.

 

The audience maintain a solid amount of energy through the final act of the seventh annual Milwaukee Company fast. Rounding out this years festival was Chicago-based group Pimprov

 

The African-American trio does improv in and out of character as classic '70s pimp stereotypes. It's something they been doing together for many many years now. Bad familiarity is so crucial to the appeal of the group. They work strikingly well together. And the audience really seemed to like their style. With the energy flowing through the audience the way it was, this year's festiveal ended with quite a bit of energy. 

 

For more information on comedy in and around Milwaukee throughout the year, visit Milwaukee Comedy online. 

 

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