Photo courtesy of
Broadminded comedy. The
“broads” (from left to right): Stacy Babl, Melissa Kingston, Megan McGee, Anne
Who says you have to go to the Second City to get a good laugh? There is plenty of clever comedy brewing right here in Milwaukee courtesy of groups like Milwaukee Comedy, Comedy Sportz and Broadminded. I have to admit, I am one to seek out a concert before a comedy show, but wanting a change of pace, I went all in for some belly-busting laughs Saturday night at Surprise!, Broadminded’s new sketch comedy show at the Tenth Street Theatre (628 N. 10th St.).
Broadminded is Milwaukee’s only all-female sketch comedy group, writing and performing original sketches together since 2006. And there's no estrogen necessary to laugh at their jokes. The Broads find comedic inspiration in everyday situations like work, relationships, and parenting as well as things that are always funny, like sexual innuendos, valley girls, awkward family moments and mustaches. All four of the Broads: Stacy Babl, Anne Graff LaDisa, Melissa Kingston and Megan McGee write and perform the sketches themselves – with no help from men.
But comedy can be a peculiar thing, in that not everyone thinks the same things are funny. “We function as a collective, so leadership responsibilities are shared - and that's not always easy to negotiate,” says McGee. “Although our individual comedic preferences give our shows nice variety, it also means that we don't always agree on things, so sometimes we have to either let the writer make the final call on a sketch or agree that majority rules.”
On Saturday, the stage was littered with props - a pink feather boa, hats of all types, signs and more - making me wonder what might happen in the next couple of hours. Funny Son of a Story kicked off the program with a 20-minute improv routine. Then the Broads took the stage with two acts of 13 different short skits (1-10 minutes a piece) that moved quickly from one to the next. During the two-hour show (most suitable for adult audiences) each of the Broads played many different characters.
McGee revealed that some sketches were completely written word for word, but other sketches were beat out, which means that the writer notes what will happen in each beat, and the sketch develops over several rehearsals, with the cast improvising individual lines and seeing what seems to work best. Some sketches were a blend. “That's fun because each night, we say slightly different things and have to be ready to react to whatever!”
Each show also contains two surprises that were totally improvised. There will be a new surprise every night, so I can tell you that you won’t see a repeat of Stacy singing “Jailhouse Rock” while eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich. “There's no good way to rehearse a true surprise,” Megan admits.
It’s obvious that their work is very heavily influenced by popular Saturday Night Live legends like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, along with the smart and silly comedy of The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Arrested Development.
Broadminded writes and performs a new show twice a year along with performing at festivals nationwide and doing private parties. All of the Broads have day jobs, but have studied comedy. Stacy and Megan have both completed the Second City Conservatory program in Chicago, and Anne and Melissa have both played professionally at ComedySportz Milwaukee. They all met performing in the rec league at ComedySportz.
There are still two more chances to see Surprise! – April 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. Fig and Fig and Two and a Half Gay Men will be opening the remaining two shows. Click here to purchase $10 tickets in advance or pay cash at the door (if there are any tickets left).
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