Just like sitting in forth grade homeroom again, a PA crackled the sound of a matronly voice informing us of what had come to her attention concerning recess play ground antics. Ut oh! No more “Smeer the Queer” or “Beat the Geek”, we have to play nice. Luckily for all of the troublemakers in the crowd, the ladies of Broadminded Comedy were willing to some of the dirty work for us.
Jerks!, Broadminded’s latest episode of improvisational and sketch comedy, hit the Grand Avenue Arcade over the Thanksgiving Holiday in the Underground Collective performance space. The relaxed fitting and functional black box stage gave Anne Graff DeLisa, Stacy Babl, Megan McGee, and Melissa Kingston plenty of room to knock eagerly awaiting funny bones.
Fun with Poking
Like a magical unicorn beast, sketch and improv comedy moves elusively between slapstick, sarcasm and irony. If you find that mystical place in your mind to play along, Broadminded will make that unicorn appear before your computer glazed eyes. They’ve pulled off a series of individual shows, and participated in many comedy fests over recent years, succeeding in snatching laughs out of their audiences’ bellies since 2006. Their latest show Jerks! supplied no exceptions.
A two act pony, Jerks! boasted 21 scenes in all, tapping the opposite shoulder of many everyday situations and ubiquitous current news topics involving a caricature of someone behaving on the spectrum of “jerkism”. The Broads kicked off with The Apology, a skit where DeLisa explained reluctantly to her roommate, played by Kingston, how she mistakenly shredded Kingston’s favorite college hoodie in the wash. McGee, the third roommate, sat at a computer absorbing the drama airing out.
DeLisa breaks the news indirectly, and Kingston shrugs it off, as if assured of her sweatshirt’s whereabouts. Feeling guilty DeLisa, adds emphasis to the reality of her apology and produces a green absurdly tattered cloth, at the sight of which Kingston looses it as if her best friend moved away. McGee smarmily gives a clinical blow by blow of Kingston’s reactions, illustrating to DeLisa that everything will be okay. After all, her tantrum subsiding, predictably Kingston will think of what could have intervened to save her sweater, before she falls into a heaping emotional funk. On cue, Kingston overacts each stage of the Kubler-Ross model.
Finally, Kingston gets over it and turns to DeLisa to instigate conversation with McGee as she studiously finishes her homework. McGee gets testy, and Kingston snidely remarks that McGee must be lacking Maslow’s first basic need, food. Lesson learned: stop being the “#$@&” that analyzes your friends problems just because you took some stupid college intro course. Let rinse and repeat, a few highlights from Jerks!
Pot shooting the wine drinking crowd in the Rich Bitches skit, Babl and McGee prop themselves up haughtily at a table for two. They comment hideously on the traits of the wine they are sipping, its obvious shortcomings, and why it should have been decanted. DeLisa, the server, drops a bombshell into their gaping mouths that they’re having diet cola.
Just Brand Me
Three moms, push their kids in imaginary swings. In What’s in a Name, McGee and Babl marvel that DeLisa renamed her kid, taking up a well known candy corporation on an offer of a large undisclosed sum of money to purchase the naming rights of her daughter. DeLisa admits that the name was very special to her and her husband, a memento to lasting memories of the travels of their young romance. Reconciling her decision, DeLisa explains they’ll rename their kid, and she’ll keep all of her local appeal and won’t sacrifice any of her intelligence. Now everyone in the world will know her name! Get it? Milwaukee now gets its favorite brewed beverages off of a metaphorical bus.
Meet me in the Bathroom
Act two brought everyone back to attention with a little audience participation. What’s improv without a little potty humor, that’s what Vajayprov guaranteed. Broadminded company members extolled audience members to blurt out an item they would find in a kitchen. Some answers bounced back, “knife”, “glass”. Kingston, impeccably timed as always, wizzed back, “Ok, great,… butt plug.” The sketch commenced barging through frenetic quips and wits, and much like DeLisa’s mime, the mental imaginary window opened and some of the audience climbed out. Others stuck around for a kick in the pants.
Wry vs. Spy
Although they all were great, Broadminded’s NSA Nancy sketch was genius. Mom locks herself out of the house, no problem, NSA Nancy shows up friendly as the mailman, and has the key to let her in. Mom doesn’t know that her son is trying to hook up with the friendly neighbor girl, no problem, NSA Nancy shows up just in time with a condom. What’s that? The neighbor doesn’t have garlic for the pasta sauce, no problem, NSA Nancy heard about the dinner party two weeks ago and let herself in to give the neighbor the clove she needed for taste. They all reply, Thanks NSA Nancy. Thanks Broadminded, that was beyond classic.
A Common Thread
You’re at the mall, you’re on vacation, you’re in a confessional, and suddenly the song “Brown Eyed Girl” starts playing and two girls jump out of no where and start screaming that they have brown eyes, and giggle hysterically and jump around singing along. They hitch hike a ride on a tractor trailer, and what on the AM dial? “Brown Eyed Girl”. The trucker dishes that he loves Van Morrison, the naturally reply from the “Brown Eyed” girls, “Huh”?
Worth Your While
They’re funny, smart, and all that good stuff, and worth a evening out with someone you like to share lighthearted and witty laugh. Broadminded Comedy’s next show is scheduled for next April, 2014, so you have plenty of time to build up false expectations and get on their mailing list.
Patrick Noth left the Milwaukee for the big pond, NYC, and instead of being chewed up he ground out a little space for himself in the improv comedy scene. With intensions of using his first passion for that music of beats and rhymes, he’s melded both with a solder of wit and lyrical skills.
He’s worked with Jim Gaffigan, been a part of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre comedy troop, and also had one of the top College Humor videos this year titled Hardcore Casual Gaming Rap… Check it out here!
Another oldy but goody classic right here Hold My Chain.
Nestled on 5th and Washington, on a surprisingly quiet strip in Walker’s Point, Carte Blanche Studios continues to imprint it’s butt on Milwaukee’s rogue theater scene. Carte Blanche’s current production Reefer Madness:The Musical enters it’s last weekend on Friday November 18th at 8pm, a stage adapted lampooning of the 1936 alarmist propaganda campaign against ganja Tell Your Children (Reefer Madness).
It’s a slapstick comedy with mega-doses of high jinks and quip humor that pits the active eyebrows of Michael Traynor (portraying the omnipresent shape-shifting conscious of America narrating the story, also serving as maestro of musical interludes) and his pitiful fictitious citizenry from Anywhere, USA, against overly concerned Carte Blanche audience members who play the role of Anywhere High School’s PTA. Okay Carte Blanche‘s audiences my not be overly concerned, even so our funny bones didn’t have a chance.
The Green Brick Road
The story centers around Jimmy (Chris Jones) and Mary Lane’s (Karrisa Lade) infantile teenage romance culminating with Jimmy asking Mary to the High School dance. Jimmy, after building up the guts to ask Mary Lane to the dance, realizes with horror he lacks rhythm.
Vulnerable, Jimmy comes across the path of Jack (Derek Woerpel) the local weed man, who offers him dance lessons as a thinly veiled ploy to lure a new customer into his web. Jimmy takes Jack up on his offer and Traynor dubbing as “America’s Conscious” gets many “I told you so” moments to taunt us with, as Jimmy’s experience on “Marihunana” swiftly turns him into a junkie, eventually dragging Mary into the smoke.
Mae (Samantha Paige), Jack’s pot jonesing girlfriend, melodramatically tries to urge the kids not to go down her path to burnout hussy-dom, but is foiled again and again by Jack, his best customer Ralph (Clayton Hamburg) and his resident floozy Sally (Emily Craig), and her own urges to keep toking. Jimmy and Mary Lane’s peers pop-up regularly as spunky teens of the town, by day, and dancing weed zombies by night… or day, played by Mara Mcghee, Mica Chenault, Andrew Parchman, Jessi Miller, and Caitlin Alba.
It’s plenty entertaining! Even before the lights went up, Michael Traynor’s entrance alone was so on spot to the period that I was already laughing out loud.
Carte Blanche now has a cafe called Cafe Bizzare that will eventually maintain regular business hours even when a show is not going on. There’s art on the walls, wood on the floors, great furniture, brews of caffeine and malted grains, what more could you want!
Carte Blanche Studios closes Reefer Madness!: The Musical, Sunday, November 20 and opens a one-nighter Lucky13 Open Mic Comedy the next day at 8p.
Reefer Madness: The Musical, Bunny Gumbo’s Blog, Bunny Gumbo
Carte Blanche gets bent: Reefer Madness! The Musical, The Examiner, Jeff Gryngy
Reefer Reviews!, Lisa Golda Blog, Lisa Golda
You can try to sit there with a straight face, but as Broadminded guarantees stolid faces may rip or tear. Another way to look at it, if you’re not laughing, their jabs at reality may land closer to you than you may care to admit. Darn ladies of Broadminded with their knack for wit and entertainment!
In Broadminded’s latest effort, Blood is Thicker than Liquor, Stacy Babl, Anne Graff DeLisa, Melissa Kingston, and Megan McGee breakout the industrial sized clothes hamper and pull out a dozen and a half sketches based on memories of their family and friends. A host of concocted characters humorously navigate everyday life situations like moving into a new apartment, court mandated counseling or getting revenge in innocuous ways.
The Broadminded troop exhibits extraordinary chemistry on stage, very adeptly weaving improv and sketch comedy into their current production. Babl and McGee both graduated from the Second City Conservatory and all four ladies are Comedy Sportz veterans. If nothing else, Blood is Thicker than Liquor gives a clinic on how to pace and structure a comedy performance.
For $10 you get an hour and a half comedy onslaught on weird mannerisms, social ignorance and taboos and great stories. Tonight, Friday June 24th, June 25th at 8:00pm and Sunday June 26 at 4:00pm are your last chances to join the Broadminded family at the Alchemist Theatre.
Pink Banana Theatre Co’s One Act Festival, Higher Education, drew its bow last night with a six act show aimed at funny bones, soft-spots, tear ducts (well maybe eye-balls), and family jewels. Although turning its cheek from more serious drama created by traditional theatre, some arises amidst the sketch comedy with which Higher Education bats your ears. Staying on theme, re-enacted school house shenanigans rotate in and out of view on the carousel stage, written, directed and performed by some of Milwaukee’s most promising young comedic talent.
Abound from start to finish, commentary, conflict, absurdity, slap-schticks, droll, and sarcastic burns, pack Pink Banana’s production. Class of 2011’s collective consciousnesses of pre-pubescent, college and early professional life dynamics added to well placed exaggeration, and flare for the ridiculous, make a pretty entertaining concoction irresistible for those with a taste for being entertained. In the process, Higher Learning provides a much needed outlet since laughing at kids in real life makes you jerk.
Writer’s Megan McGee (The Grade and Portuguese) and Sammi Ditloff (The Dilemma) delivered tightly worded, stand-out material directed by Kevin Wleklinski (The Grade) and Dana Gustafson (The Dilemma). The Grade (performed by Marion Araujo, Ashlea Woodley, Alix Lahren, and Ditloff) mocks two underachieving students’ very contrasting attempts to convince their frustrated Profs to increase their final grade at semester-end. Portuguese (performed by Lahren) sheds light on the changing landscape of college instruction, not withstanding regressing to use of “non-human substitutes”.
In The Dilemma, two college buddies, played by Rob Mass and Michael Black, take a social media decision so far over the top that Black enters a trance state where he utters Shakespeare while talking-out the problem, to the chagrin of Mass. By sketch end, it’s easy to forget why high school graduates go to college.
Charles Sommer’s Sound of One Loaf Baking, directed by Eleni Sauvageau, although a tad campy offers sitcom quality timing and genuine humor. The Baker family owns a bakery and papa Baker (Howie Magner) tries to convince teen daughter Juliana Baker (Megan Kaminsky) to keep the tradition going. Through her protests a revelation occurs when the Baking Buddha (Joaquin Rodriguez) delivers baking-inspired wisdom, while his son (Tim Braun) and Juliana’s angsty friend (Eilen Dunphy) meddle.
Reader’s Pick for Express Milwaukee’s best actress in 2010, Beth Lewinski gives an attention-keeping performance in Allison Gruber’s nicely written but otherwise difficult script Guess Who Died? (dir. by Alan Piotrowitcz), supported by Mandy Marcucilli and Amie Lynn Losi. Georgia (Lewinski) and Rose (Marcucilli) graduated the same English program and now live together strained, lovers on the outs. Georgia’s intimate and professional life flashes before the audiences eye’s as her stories of work, play and romance provide a glimpse behind the scenes of Georgia’s public and internal personas.
Michael Black gives a repertory season’s worth of method as a supporting player in Guess Who Died?, The Dilemma and The Cookie (written by Rich Orloff, dir. Rebecca Segal), a little doohickey about two trailer-park-dwelling parents (Karina Lathrop and Kris Puddicombe) visiting their son James (Rob Mass) in jail for murder. A twisted power-seeking Lawyer (Kelly Coffey) tries to impress a likely-story on James to get him off.
A gentle warning, Pink Banana takes the liberty to incorporate a good deal of vulgarity both verbal and non-verbal in certain acts. So don’t bring your 3rd grader or refined high culture sensibilities. Overall, Higher Learning brings well done comic relief to an otherwise bi-polar Spring.