Marquette Wire

Open mic needs more hype

Milwaukee art scene offers places to perform, observe off campus

Photo by Austin Anderson austin.anderson@marquette.edu

Photo by Austin Anderson austin.anderson@marquette.edu

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Peppered throughout the academic calendar are opportunities for students to slam poetry, sing original songs, or do stand up comedy on campus. Meanwhile, the stand up performance scene outside Marquette keeps its doors open to college students as not only viewers, but also performers.

David Louis, a comedian and open mic host at various Milwaukee venues, said that he often sees performers at events who could potentially be Marquette students, but still thinks that interested students should seek out these events more often.

“(I) started comedy and music in college and would have loved to have had all these opportunities to gain recognition off campus and around the city,” David Louis, a Milwaukee comedian, said.

Louis is involved with the “Objective Open Mic Night,” held at The Var Art Gallery and Studio on South 2nd Street on the third Saturday of every month. These open mic sessions are very broad and welcome performers of all kinds, such as poets, comedians, musicians, and even storytellers.

“I know there are plenty of clubs out there connecting with college students and trying to appeal to them,” Louis said. “The Var is not one of those clubs, but it should be. I’m sure that performers would love to see more college kids, and I feel like the students would appreciate the shows too.”

While Louis noticed little to no college presence at many of the events around Milwaukee, there are students who are very passionate about open mic nights and related events.

Ivana Osmanovic is the founder of the Marquette Live Poets Society (LPS), which hosts a variety of events on campus for artists. Off campus, she says there are many opportunities for interested performers to get involved.

“There’s always something going on which makes it really cool to be an artist in this city,” she said. “There’s always workshops, open mics, shows, storytelling, anything.”

When LPS was created, Osmanovic says she had a main goal , the first being the creation of a space where individuals felt comfortable to share original work. Despite the sometimes scarce turnouts at LPS events on campus, Osmanovic said the club focuses more on creating an outlet for students to share.

“Our audience members range from five to one hundred, but it doesn’t matter,” she said. “If we’re able to create a space where students are able to express their creative work, then we’ve done our job.”

Sometimes, instead of going to open mic nights, students opt for venues such as Karma Bar & Grill, where comedian Drew Flagge performs.

Located two miles from campus, Karma hosts “Under The Stairs Comedy Night” every Wednesday night, as well as what they claim to be Milwaukee’s #1 comedy showcase on the third Friday of each month.

“You see a lot of familiar faces of people in the crowd as well as other performers,” Flagge said.

He also emphasized the need for new performers and viewers from the dynamic surrounding community, including college students.

As a frequent performer, Flagge expressed how dedicated he and many other amateur stand up comedians are.

“I’m on stage five nights a week at open mics and other events like these,” Flagge said. “For some of us comedy nerds, getting up there on stage is like a compulsion.”

Louis expressed his belief that this lack of college presence at many Milwaukee open mic nights is the fault of both the students and the clubs. He suggested that the venues should advertise and reach out to colleges more often, but at the same time he feels that college students are not looking hard enough to find these off campus events.

“Shows like these are available for anyone who wants to see them, nearly every night a week,” Louis said. “I’m sure that performers would love to see more college kids and I feel like the students would appreciate the shows too.”

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