How did Milwaukee Comedy Festival Get This Year's Headliners?

Judah Friedlander, Ari Shaffir, Todd Barry and Beth Stelling will all be headlining at Milwaukee Comedy Festival in 2019.

The Milwaukee Comedy Festival returns for its 14th year, from July 31 to Aug. 4, with a kick-off event at Lakefront Brewery and four headliners – the most it’s ever had.

We asked the festival’s founder and executive director, Matt Kemple, how he puts together the lineup each year.

What makes for a good stand-up set?

You have to have really good talent, for one. And then I think it’s about the timing – you know, comedy in general is about timing.

What’s new at the festival this year?

This year, we set out to have two headliners, Ari Shaffir and Todd Barry. [Booking Beth Stelling] kind of happened accidentally. And then Judah Friedlander, who’s most known for “30 Rock,” contacted us and said, “Hey, I really love the lineup you have – any chance I could be a part of it?” And that was crazy because I’ve never had that level of comic personally reach out.

What are you most excited for?

If I can be really sappy for a minute, after 14 years of this, I really just love being around the comics. The shows are incredible, but then you form these lifelong friendships and you work with these people for years on end, and you all have that common bond of just wanting to create joy and bring laughter to people. That’s something that I truly cherish. Sorry, I said I was going to get a little sappy!