Serious Laughter

Twin Cities group to host ambitious comedy retreat in the Chippewa Valley

Mike Paulus

SPOKEN NERD. Strike Theater co-founder and ComCon co-organizer Allison Broeren grew up in Eau Claire. ComCon is a winter retreat/workshopping weekend for comedy writers and performers coming up in February on Lake Holcombe.
SPOKEN NERD. Strike Theater co-founder and ComCon co-organizer Allison Broeren grew up in Eau Claire. ComCon is a winter retreat/workshopping weekend for comedy writers and performers coming up in February on Lake Holcombe.

Speaking of the upcoming ComCon winter retreat, Allison Broeren says, “I’m excited to be a nerd with a bunch of other nerds. Spending time with people that are interested in comedy and writing and performing will be the best.”

Allison is an Eau Claire native who’s earned plenty of awards and accolades over the past decade as she’s helped to build and evolve the Twin Cities storytelling and poetry slam scenes, co-founding a number of live performance-based collectives and shows. Her latest endeavor – co-founding Strike Theater in Minneapolis – is dedicated to storytelling, sketch comedy, and spoken word. Gushed about above, Strike Theater is the engine behind ComCon, an amazing workshop/retreat opportunity for writers and performers coming up Feb. 3–5 at the Paradise Shores 4 lakeside hotel in Holcombe, just 40 minutes from Eau Claire.

“There isn’t really anything out there like ComCon,” Allison explains. “There are lots of writers retreats, and some stand-up comedy conventions or improv camps, but nothing that really crosses genres the way we want to.”

She says ComCon will continue Strike’s mission to unite different writing and performing communities, hopefully connecting groups in the Twin Cities with people in Eau Claire. Part of the idea stems from a time she asked a bunch of non-poets to compete in a poetry slam tournament. “It was fascinating to see how they approached their writing and pieces differently than the usual poets,” she says. “It sparked a lot of conversations and a slight obsession with digging into how I can learn from others.”

Strike Theater co-founders and ComCon co-organizers Joe Bozic and Mike Fotis perform as improv duo Ferrari McSpeedy. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis
Strike Theater co-founders and ComCon co-organizers Joe Bozic and Mike Fotis perform as improv duo Ferrari McSpeedy. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis

Billed as a “weekend adventure created to bring together stand-ups, storytellers, improvisers, sketch writers, and anybody interested in the art of comedy,” ComCon is focused on people learning from each other, making new friends, strengthening performance communities, and just having fun. Participants can expect “genre sampler” workshops with experts, master class options, panel conversations, performance and writing sessions, mentoring opportunities, games, something called “Hot Tubs and Hot Dogs,” and more.

Presenters include a writer/performer from Mystery Science Theater 3000, a writer for Disney Channel Cartoons, Moth Grand Slam winners, veteran stand-ups, and a writer from A Prairie Home Companion.

And on Saturday night at 7pm, there’s even a showcase performance open to the public looking to be well worth a quick drive from Eau Claire.

To sum up, Allison adds, “I’m excited to laugh. The world has been pretty serious, so let’s dig into the role comedy can play in our current environment.” 

The cost of the conference is $120 (not including lodging), which gives you access to all panels, workshops, shows, coaching, writing, and extra activities. Early bird pricing ends Jan. 11, after that it’s $135. Participants must be at least 21 years old. More details at strikecomcon.com.

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