This Wednesday I went to Cactus Club to enjoy a night of laughs and music, to have a perfect escape from the doldrums of another work week. Local comedian Ryan Holman has taken it upon himself to pick up on what has become a hot new trend in music, the crossover between live music and comedy, and has found a way to establish it as a monthly tradition at several Milwaukee venues, Cactus Club, Stonefly, and Sugar Maple, to name a few.This crossover between music and comedy which can be illustrated by Yo La Tengo’s annual Chanukah music/comedy festival and more directly by Jeff Garlin, the agent from Curb Your Enthusiasm, joining the band Guster on tour this year to MC and do stand-up in between acts/sets.
Ryan Holman’s set, the coordinator of this comedy and music series, has a love for comedy and music that is apparent when you see his set culminated by a wonderful in-character cover joke of Katt Williams’. The central pun to the skit is based on weed smoking, sure to make every stoner in the audience chuckle. Honestly, what could possibly be a better mashup for a comedy/music show than a cover joke. The idea of bands doing covers once or twice in a set can be considered a tradition, its just another similarity between two different performing arts: comedy and music.
Along with Ryan Holman, seven other local comedians joined the stage. Chris Lay, Ian John, Jay Abbondanza, Ryan Mason, Sarandi Klikizos, Tim Higgins, and Tony Tudor; all leading up to musical guest Crappy Dracula. The evening was filled with plenty of pop culture references, and dick jokes. In fact, the night was so filled with laughter from all the dick jokes and pop culture, that when Sarandi Klikizos left the stage I congratulated him for being the first comic to not make a dick or pop culture joke in his entire set. Immediately after saying this I attempted to backtrack realizing this statement might offend his craft, but before being able to remove foot from mouth he replied emphatically with “I made a dick joke. What about the calamari foreskin one?”. This was the perfect reply for the comedic night that was.
Even the members of Crappy Dracula got into the comedic spirit when taking the stage wearing red clown noses and offering the crowd of eager participants electric shock cans of peanuts and reward milk “because you’ve earned it”. And once they started playing it was apparent why they were playing music at a comedy show. Their fun and playful power chords mixed with pop culture referencing lyrics about Bill Cosby and the “ghost from 3 Men and a Baby” sent me reeling.
Was it really all dick jokes, and pop culture? No. Ryan Mason had a hilariously topical joke about the Bobby Petrino Scandal which included a fake recorded 911 call that absolutely killed. Tony Tudor with his eclectic mix of public masturbation, and pedaphile humor was so out of bounds that all in attendance couldn’t help but laugh to escape how awkward it actually was.
And escape is what it was. A night of blissful escape from reality for a couple of hours. For those of you who frequent concerts the way I do you know that escape from that which isn’t fun and lies rather in the realm of serious and mundane is all that you are looking for. So if you want to escape join Ryan at his next show of comedy and music blended next Thursday the 26th of April at Sugar Maple, or Friday the 27th at Stonefly.