Behind the Scenes: Milwaukee Improv

Behind the Scenes: Milwaukee Improv

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Have you ever gone to see a comedy show and wondered about all the work going on behind the scenes?

We headed to the Corners of Brookfield to see the well-oiled laughing machine that is Milwaukee Improv.

Jayk Burczyk is the general manager and runs the timed-out teamwork before each show. 

"We do standup comedy, it's great. The size and level comedy that we are getting here is unparalleled. It was built for comedy, for comedians and to develop that artform," said Burczyk. 

Burczyk says his team works hard to make the shows move smoothy. 

"We make sure they have all the information pertinent to the show and that they know who's on the lineup, and everything that the customer is going to need when they're seated. Hannah in AV will come in, set up all the lights, get the room ready, set up the microphones and make sure everything is set for the comedians when they arrive." 

When guests first arrive, they stop at the podium outside the doors to get their tickets scanned. There is plenty of time to eat and drink before the show begins. There are QR codes on the tables because staff want to limit crowd interactions, since the point of coming to the club is seeing the show.

"We typically have three comedians: a host, a feature, and the headliner. Typically, we let the headliner pick their host and feature. On occasion, there are times when they just ask us to go local. So, at that point we reach out to some people that we have utilized before and get them on stage to give them an opportunity. It's an amazing thing to get to watch someone's career develop over a short period of time," said Burczyk. 

We sat down with headliner Dusty Slay to learn more about his creative process.

"I like to write out my set list. So, I have a general idea of how I want the order to go. The act of writing helps cement the order in my head," explained Slay. I like to build an act - this hour I am doing right now, completely different than my Netflix special. This new hour probably took me six months," said Slay.

Slay just released a special on Netflix. He also told us about what he likes to do before the show backstage. 

"I do like to take a second and kind of gather my thoughts. I don't want a lot of people back here; I want it to be really normal and chill. Abe, who was back here earlier, has the hardest job in the show because he's hosting. Naomi Karavani, who is the feature, is in there to pump it up. So, then when I walk in, it's a hot crowd," said Slay. 

Slay tells us comedians do think about the audience a great deal.

"If I can go out and tell one joke, everyone laughs, everyone is comfortable. Audience members are not comfortable because they are worried the comic is not going to do well. If you can go out and give them something hot right away, they can all relax. If I'm up there and things aren't going well, maybe I'll try to move some of it up earlier and see if that will work better," explained Slay. 

Some people asked CBS 58 to find out what the comedians eat backstage. These requests are often referred to as "riders." 

"Dusty is easy. Dusty's rider was green tea," said Burczyk. 

"I just get things for my room, and I eat those. Sometimes, I go to the club and if they have some good snacks there, I will eat those too," said Slay. 

Other comedians really shake things up with their requests. 

"We've had comedians ask for Air Force Ones, T-shirts, incredibly expensive bottles of tequila. We work with their teams on what we can actually provide," said Burczyk. 

People outside the Improv wanted to know what made comedians like Dusty Slay want to be a comedian in the first place. 

"Getting a laugh is the best. There is no feeling like that, you got this new joke, you go tell it, everyone laughs and you're like alright, we're doing it," explained Slay. 

"We're here to laugh, we want people to come in in high spirits and be in a good mood," said Burczyk.

If you're an aspiring standup comedian, Milwaukee Improv has open mic nights on Thursdays. 

They also have a full calendar of comedy shows that you can view and purchase tickets for here

You can follow them on social media below: 

You can also follow Dusty Slay's career by clicking here

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