For more than two decades, laughs have permeated the space within Comedy Cafe. On its stage, a rolling list of local and nationally acclaimed comedians—such as Tommy Chong and Bobcat Goldthwait—launch into schticks or go about repairing minor damage to brickwork. Audiences can work on their spit takes thanks to a menu of margaritas, martinis, and snacks such as popcorn.
Captain Frederick Pabst contributed to Milwaukee?s status as a cultural landmark of the upper Midwest by building Pabst Theater, formally known as Das Neue Deutsche Stadt-Theater, in 1895. According to legend, when he was informed that his theater had burned to the ground, the brewing magnate interrupted his European vacation to wire home the order to ?Rebuild at once!??and 11 months later, the stage was completed anew. Where the old theater honored German artists by having their names inscribed along the cornice of the auditorium, the new building featured an international consortium of cultural notables. The theater?s globe-spanning influences were made even more apparent with the installation of an Austrian crystal chandelier and an Italian marble staircase.
The King of Rock and Roll never relinquishes his throne as four of the country’s top Elvis impersonators team together for Elvis Lives, a multimedia musical tribute to one of music’s premier icons. Endorsed by Elvis Presley Enterprises, which holds the copyright on blue suede shoes, Elvis Lives stars a quartet of bona fide dead ringers, all of whom are winners of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest and pay homage to four memorable eras of the pompadour-sporting legend’s career. Fans can swoon and shout as they catch a glimpse of tadpole Elvis and his centrifugal pelvis, movie-era Elvis, leather-jacket “comeback” Elvis, and shimmering, sequined-jumpsuit “Vegas” Elvis. The lavishly-produced show quantum leaps across a memorable career with classic songs sung spot-on, delighting fans and warming the heart of the real Elvis as he watches from the rafters.
Karma Bar & Grill feels more like a stylish friend's man-cave than a typical sports bar. Upstairs amid the tangy aroma of buffalo wings and the clink of beer glasses, clusters of friends gather around 72-inch TVs, eyes locked onto the game du jour. Downstairs, the Sutra Lounge eases post-victory comedowns with candlelight and sectional sofas, where visitors enjoy cocktails and almond-crusted duck tenders. Located on the site of the former John Ernst Café, Karma has restored the building's crafted stone and hand-carved woodwork, preserved the fireplace, and replaced the springs on the many, many trapdoors. Servers keep the atmosphere inviting as they deliver pitchers of beer, hefty burgers, and plates of six-cheese macaroni.
The signature ComedySportz show (Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 p.m., typically $10–$12 per person) and ComedySportz Kidz show (Saturday at 3 p.m., typically $7.50 per person) squares off comedic squads against one another in a some-holds-barred refereed stage match that is surprisingly appropriate for all ages. In an effort to keep humor clean, referees and audience members can call for the brown-bag foul, which puts the offensive performer into a bagged timeout to think about both what they've done and what it feels like to be a grocery item. In between laughs, grab some fermented ales at the on-site full bar or snag an order of fresh eats from the Howie's Restaurant menu.
At The ComedySportz Theatre, audience suggestions keep an all-ages, family-friendly and fast-paced vortex of scenes, games, and songs spinning in competitive shows that pit two improv teams against each other. Inside the intimate, 149-seat theater, spontaneity rules as a referee moderates the all-ages-appropriate hilarity pitched between the Chicago Bosses and The Evanston Express. At the end of each comedic duel, the points and audience votes are tallied to determine the winning team, sentencing the losers to feed the doves that live inside the winners' top hats.
The ComedySportz Training Center's seasoned instructors also teach six-week courses in the art of improvised hilarity and the essential virtues of spontaneity, risk taking, and engagement with the moment. Through scene work, ComedySportz games, and short- and long-form improv, students learn to keep audiences roaring in order to jump-start a career or become a more affable bank robber.