The new comedy festival offers an impressive, affordable overview of Madison's stand-up scene. Info/tix
Organized by Cynthia Marie, Peter Rambo, and Jake Snell, the inaugural Madison Comedy Week kicks off Sunday, May 2 with Skinny Dip Comedy Night and the Madison Area Comedy Awards (the M.A.C.A.s) at the Nomad World Pub, and runs through Sunday, June 3, when Twin Cities husband-and-wife headliners Mary Mack and Tim Harmston top the bill at a Central Park Sessions show in McPike Park. In between, local comedy fans will find 20 or so events spread across various venues, highlighting the broad range of talent the city has to offer.
The list of locals on board includes several winners of the Madison's Funniest Comic Contest (Johnny Walsh, Nick Hart, Charlie Kojis), but also practically every top 10 finisher, dating back a few years (Deon Green, Gena Gephart, Esteban Touma, Alan Talaga, Adam McShane, Anthony Siraguse, Kevin Schwartz and on, and on). Along with the locals, there are a grip of great comics coming in from Milwaukee (Chastity Washington, Ryan Mason, Vickie Lynn). The structure of the event is smart, with most showcases energized with fun and conceptually interesting hooks. The aforementioned Skinny Dip Comedy Night, for example, will feature comics stripping down to their undies. Other events include a roast battle, a comedy show in someone's backyard (location TBD), and a "D.A.R.E. for Adults" sketch show.
As a sampler of local and regional talent, the week of shows is solid. And the barrier for entry is just about as low as you could ever hope for, with most shows either free (including those opening and closing night events) or just a few bucks. The 10 shows at the Broom Street Theater are $5 each, but there's a 50% price drop if you buy a pass to all of them. The whole thing feels really lovingly put together and designed to maximally highlight Madison's criminally underestimated comedy scene in a broad and inclusive way. —Chris Lay