Don’t underestimate the cultural value and significance of the Milwaukee Comedy Festival (MCF). This year marks the festival’s 10th anniversary and it’s fair to say that since its start in 2006 it has provided the helium for Milwaukee’s ballooning comedy scene.
At the center is Matt Kemple, an ebullient theater and comedy promoter and champion of local performers who organizes the festival with co-producer Patrick Schmitz. “I originally called it ‘the first annual’ as a joke,” Kemple says. “Somehow here we are celebrating the 10th anniversary.”
Flash back to 2006 when live Milwaukee comedy was scarce if not impossible to find outside of ComedySportz. The Milwaukee Comedy Cafe played host to traveling national comedians, not local talent. The Pabst Theater Group was focused on music. Milwaukee comedians were relegated to performing for handfuls of friends in appropriated spaces. The more popular and enterprising among them would relocate to established comedy scenes in larger markets to test their mettle.