GrawlixCan A Mid-Size City’s Thriving Comedy Scene Survive The LA Exodus?

Splitsider 4/15/2015

If you’re a mid-level comic with a few credits under your belt, at some point you’ve probably been asked the question: “So, when are you moving to LA?” The person asking was likely from Los Angeles, and didn’t ask in the neutral tone of a guidance counselor “have you thought about moving to LA?” It’s always when are you moving. For many in this business, your hometown comedy scene is viewed as the high school of your career, with road-gigs and festivals as your bachelors degree — followed by the inevitable move to Hollywood to begin your masters.

And just as every comic has to decide when (and if) they want to take the big leap to Hollywood, their hometown comedy scene of Austin, Portland, Boston, Denver, or wherever, has to restructure itself in their absence, either dealing with a flood of talented performers clamoring to fill the newly open gigs, or shutting down clubs and canceling mics because because half the people moved away and the other half are jaded.

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Should We Be Laughing at Celebrities with Mental Disorders?

VICE 2/17/15

No one likes to be told what they should and shouldn’t laugh at. In the world of comedy, there is already a grocery list of sensitive subjects and ethnic/religious minorities that some believe should be off limits. The idea of adding white male celebrities—one of the most privileged segments of the population—to that list probably doesn’t sound justified, even when mental illness is the source of their joke-inspiring behavior. Yet there is something unsettling about the way the public gleefully ridicules the psychotic behavior of people like Gary Busey, Scott Stapp, and Randy Quaid. It says a lot more about us than it does them.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 11.47.47 AMStress, Sex and Sociopathy at Denver’s High Plains Comedy Festival

VICE 9/4/14

Comedian Ben Kronberg is telling a story about performing fellatio on a dog. Large swaths of the audience at Denver’s High Plains Comedy Festival are feeling awkward, and their discomfort drives many of us to laugh still harder. The show is called Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, a Nerdist Industries podcast that is kicking off this three-day festival with lewd short stories involving Rancid and The Goonies. Before the weekend is over, 3000 people will filter in and out of the bookstores, bars, DIY venues, and a black-metal brewery that host the festival, enduring ab-crunch laughter from comics like Pete Holmes, T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani.

Kronberg was supposed to have written a carnal story about Woodrow Wilson, but he characteristically twisted it into a cringe-worthy erotic nightmare involving incest and beastiality. This Denver-native-turned-New Yorker has made a career of awkward silence, driving Roseanne Barr to shout “go fuck yourself” at him when he appeared onLast Comic Standing in May. Kronberg attracts the kind of people who enjoy being an artistic minority, as does this Erotic Fan Fiction show. In the other words, the kind of people who fetishize uncomfortable public situations.

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doug-bensonThe New Airplane Food: Why This Denver Comedy Journalist Is Sick of Pot Jokes

Splitsider 10/3/14

With some variation, this has been the introductory line or segue of almost every touring comedian I’ve seen in Denver over the last year. Sometimes this leads them into a hilarious bit filled with wisdom and color and authentic misdirection — but most of the time it’s just an I-was-so-stoned-when-I-shouldn’t-have-been yarn involving junk-food and a cop. Maybe this is just the case in Colorado, but it feels to me like marijuana jokes are slowly becoming the airplane-food humor of today’s comedy: We’ve heard a lot of these jokes, so this one better be good.

I’m not sure if the fact that I smoke a lot of pot makes me more or less likely to be annoyed with cannabis comedy. When it’s good, there’s nothing better. Whether it’s Bill Hicks theorizing that “to make marijuana against the law is to believe God made a mistake,” or Bill Cosby walking us through coughing/laughing/paranoia misery of being high, the subject is a fertile landscape of punchlines and characters. But with those two examples, the comics took very well-tread subjects (legalization; mocking stoned behavior) and moved them somewhere fresh. Unfortunately, this is rare in today’s comedy.

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46411aShould All Standup Comedians Write Their Own Jokes?

Splitsider 9/24/14

I was thirteen when I first saw a comic glance at his notes on stage, and I remember wondering why I was surprised to see this. Did you think he was making all this up on the spot? I asked myself. Well, I guess I did. Years later, when I began regularly attending comedy shows and would end up seeing the same set a dozen times a year, I began to have a similar feeling. What, I again asked myself, did you think comedians come up with a new routine for every show? Well, I guess I did. After all, isn’t that the rouse that so many standups employ in their act, that this is all a spontaneous, one-sided conversation?

Young fans of standup inevitably go through these revelations. At some point, we develop the moxie to learn that the character a comedian is on stage isn’t necessarily who they are off-stage (though sometimes they can be, for good or ill). Even though I’m a child of the indie-comedy generation, I still have no problem accepting a certain amount of theater and artifice in someone’s set.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 11.36.58 AMThe Humor Code – Peter McGraw and Joel Warner (Review)

The Spit Take 7/1/14

What’s the one thing we all do, but no one agrees about why we do it? Have sex? Vote for politicians? Pray to whichever god we decide to pray to?

While those issues might still be mysterious, they’ve also been pondered and pawed at by great thinkers for thousands of years. The question of Why We Laugh, however, has often been dismissed as the runt of the academic litter, rarely sucking on the teat of inquiry despite being one of clearest windows of insight we have into human behavior.  -How The Legal Marijuana Industry Is Helping The Denver Comedy Scene Grow

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Andy.Juett_KayvanLegal Marijuana Helps Boost The Denver Comedy Scene

Splitsider 6/24/14

Comedians like Doug Benson and Stephen Colbert have been getting a lot of joke-mileage out of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana last January. Though after Maureen Dowd wrote about being “curled up in a hallucinatory state for eight hours” in a Denver hotel room after carelessly ingesting too much edible cannabis, Bill Maher editorialized that Colorado “must realize that they are the Jackie Robinson of marijuana legislation,” and that residents “have to get this right, or else you’ll ruin it for everybody.”

The definition of what “getting this right” means is being played out in the Denver comedy scene, where marijuana has become more than just a cultural glue between comics and comedy fans, but an economic steroid that has propelled the burgeoning standup community to new levels of ambition and national attention.

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jfl13_BenRoy_715x353_051420130558Ben Roy’s ‘No Enlightenment in Sobriety’ is motivational misery for misanthropic minds (Review)

LaughSpin 4/13/14

If you follow modern stand-up comedy even casually, youʼre probably aware that booze and drugs arenʼt celebrated today like they once were. Humor superstars like Chris Hardwick, Marc Maron and Russell Brand have all become disciples of sobriety, bemoaning their dark years wasted as cross-eyed drunks.

And it would be easy to dismiss Denver comic Ben Roy as just another addition to the Live, From The Wagon! comedy generation, if he didnʼt spend half his career reminding everyone how bad the wagon smells, as he does in his newest comedy album (available April 15), No Enlightenment In Sobriety. “Iʼve been sober for three years, and Iʼm not any happier or a better person,” Roy says on the new record. “Quitting drinking just takes the liquid earmuffs off your head, and now your demons are way fucking louder than they were before.”

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 11.46.34 PMLaughspin Interview: Dave Attell talks Comedy Underground, Road Work and club comedy

LaughSpin 4/11/14

After years of cementing his reputation as an unapologetically crass and thick-skinned comic of late-night cable TV – first with Comedy Central’s Insomniac and later with Showtime’s Dave’s Old Porn – Dave Attell was a natural selection to host Comedy Central’s first uncensored stand-up series, Comedy Underground with Dave Attell, premiering this Saturday at 1 am ET.

This new show – which features all the “fucks,” “cunts,” and incest jokes your filthy little heart desires from comics like Amy Schumer, Nikki Glaser and Ralphie May – will also be directly following the premiere of Dave Attell: Road Work, the new one-hour special from the 49-year-old treasure of stand-up.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 12.14.22 PMEssay: Can Colorado comedy survive outside Denver?

Colorado Public Radio 1/20/14

Accompanied by his owner, a stand up comedian who arrived to perform at The East Coast bar Monday night comedy showcase, the border collie wanders around the bar for about twenty minutes, sniffing the crowd of drinkers who arrived for the show, before casually walking onto the stage.  “This is my dog, Jackson,” the comic says. “Everyone say hi to Jackson.”

“Hi Jackson!” shouts the crowd. The dog’s eyes dilate to the size of frisbees, momentarily thrilled and terrified at the novelty of so many strangers paying attention to him. It was his first taste of fame, an experience not uncommon in the growing stand up comedy scene of small towns throughout Colorado.

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David Sedaris Talks Colonoscopies, North Korea and Bone Marrow at the Paramount Theatre

Westword 11/25/13

On the heels of his dual reading with Lena Dunham in New York and a sold-out show in Denver last Monday, David Sedaris lit up the Paramount Theatre yesterday afternoon with his comfort-food storytelling style. Delivering stories from last summer’s’ Lets Explore Diabetes With Owls, as well as his recent New Yorker essays, a few diary entries and some unexpected riffing on bone marrow, Sedaris appeared more at ease on stage than ever. He’s a man who has clearly come to terms with his fame, but still retains some joy and playfulness at the center of every public appearance.

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.09.04 PMDavid Sedaris and the True Meaning of Blue Collar Comedy

Westword 11/12/13

“Blue collar comedy” is often viewed as synonymous with words like “dumb,” “cheap” and “Republican.” It was largely co-opted by Jeff Foxworthy’s low-brow comedy tour, and since then you really can’t discuss the humor that comes out of labor-work without everyone assuming you have a Support the Troops bumpersticker on your SUV.

David Sedaris stands out as the peacock in this grove of turkeys. While he may come from an upper-middle-class background, many of his stories chronicle his time as a college drop-out, trying to develop an artistic identity while working as a dishwasher, apple-picker, house-cleaner or, in the case of The SantaLand Diaries — the story that catapulted him into the NPR dynasty and the focus of a free program at noon today at the LoDo Tattered Cover — an elf working at Macy’s SantaLand during the holiday season. He may be an intellectual gay liberal, but as a humorist Sedaris is unendingly dark, sarcastic and accessible — a combination only truly earned through years as a blue-collar worker.

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Why Does Every “Conservative Daily Show” Fail?

Splitsider 12/2/13

Few would disagree that we’re in living in a golden age of political comedy — or at least that politics are more important to comedy today than ever before. When historians write about humor in the early twenty-first century, the names of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher will definitely be key players. And just as noteworthy will be the fact that a large majority of this humor has come at the expense of conservatives, and often to the benefit of liberals.

No matter if you’re on the left or right, pretty much everyone agrees that liberals dominate political satire and humorous commentary (at least in popularity), but few have answers about why this is. It’s certainly not that conservatives haven’t tried. From Fox News’ short-lived The Half-Hour News Hour, to “liberal media watchdog” series News Busted, or the recently launched The Flipside, attempts to roll out a conservative version of The Daily Show or Weekend Update have never been in short supply, but without fail every single one has been an unpopular disaster.

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 9.39.33 PMThe Daily Show Fumbles Criticism of Denver Youth, Accusing Them Of Not Voting In An Election From Another District

Westword 11/12/13

Last night a Daily Show report by comedian Jason Jones reported on high levels of apathy among Colorado voters. Looking at statistics as well as conducting interviews on Denver’s 16th Street Mall, Jones found that an overwhelming majority of people (80 percent) did not vote in last September’s recall election, which snatched away the jobs of state senators John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo.

But there’s a good reason for that low turnout: The recall elections were only held in the districts where those two politicians are from.

The program didn’t make any note of that, however, making it seem as if Denver voters, who didn’t have the ability to cast votes in the recall elections, were to blame. So, was theDaily Show just having some fun at Colorado’s expense, or did the crew screw up? We have calls into both Comedy Central and Morse, who was interviewed by the show, to ask, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.

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RoseanneBarRoseanne Barr on Class, Gays on TV, and Denver Comedy in the 80s

Westword 7/13/13

Never one for settling down, Roseanne Barr has kept very busy since her days changing the face of TV and women’s comedy with her hit sitcom, Roseanne. In the last two years alone, she’s starred in a reality TV show about her macadamia-nut farm in Hawaii, run for president, and been roasted on Comedy Central. Once a rising star in Denver’s standup comedy scene, Roseanne will return to Denver on Wednesday, July 31, at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret, for a fundraiser for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In advance of that appearance, we caught up with Roseanne to talk about breaking boundaries, class repression and the difficulties of being a female comic during the 1980s comedy boom.

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 11.22.34 PMAnthony Jeselnik, Louis CK, and the Ever-Shifting Definition of Offensive Comedy

Splitsider 11/16/13

Just as the news broke on Monday thatsociopathic dreamboat Anthony Jeselnik’s Comedy Central show The Jeselnik Offensive was canceled (to no small amount of glee from certain New Zealanders), Huffington Post Live releaseda video interview with Artie Lange, where the recently sober comic addresses his past use of the word “faggot” and other offensive slurs. “Times have changed, comedy has changed,” Lange says. “We live in a more enlightened time where you should think twice before you speak, because we’re talking about people.” While Lange was only referring to himself, it was a very timely comment for Jeselnik, who has built a career out of manufacturing public outrage. But this ultimately begs the question: was Jeselnik canceled for being too much of a button pusher? Or, perhaps more importantly, should he really be considered offensive if he’s doing it on purpose?

Halloween is the perfect time of year to take the pulse of moral outrage in society. Julianne Hough was moved to tweet a public apology after the outrage surrounding her black-face “Crazy Eyes” costume from Orange Is The New Black. Similarly, a 22-year-old from Michigan has been receiving threats of rape and torture after proudly posting a pic of her “Boston Marathon” costume on Twitter. While both of these are considered “too far” in the eyes of the public, the two are wildly different in their intent: One was based on ignorance, the other on provocation.

Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.43.42 PMWatching Dave Chappell Smoke Half A Pack At Comedy Works Was Better Than Anything

Westword 11/6/13

With nine shows down and three more to go, Dave Chappelle has been running a comedy marathon this week at Comedy Works. With almost no promotion outside of the club’s e-mail list, tickets have been selling out in record time, and no matter how many extra shows are added (sometimes three in a night, running until 1:40 a.m.), the funny-hungry fans gobble up tickets like they’re Soylent Green.

While Chappelle didn’t invite all of us out to Shotgun Willies afterward, as he did with Sunday night’s crowd (nearly all 300 of them took him up on the trip to the strip club), the often unscripted performance I saw last night aroused bigger laughs than I’d heard at Comedy Works in a long time. And Chappelle still had another show to do that night, as well as three more tonight.

Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.57.07 PMIf Humor Is The Ultimate Aphrodisiac, Then Why Are So Many Comedians Lonely?

Westword 10/16/13

It’s probably the biggest cliche in the history of dating: You’re looking for someone with a sense of humor. But since it has nothing to do with money, social stature or good looks — things people are often most insecure about in dating — why is humor such a big deal? The current science on the issue suggests that women are drawn toward men who crack wise, while men are attracted to a woman who will laugh at their jokes — and never the reverse. That’s a pretty convincing observation, especially when paired with online-dating stats and evolutionary-biology theories.

But how does this fit with the fact that most male comedians are hopeless at dating (or at least that’s what they consistently rant about on stage)? If the basic function of your job is to exude what is (supposedly) the most attractive quality a single male can have, a sense of humor, why aren’t these dudes cleaning up?

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adam-cayton-hollandComedy scene in Denver surges, is brimming with talented comics

LaughSpin 10/23/13

While the Internet may have democratized comedy, it didn’t make everyone a genius. There may be videos and showcases being assembled all over the US, but only a few regional scenes (Portland, Austin) have risen above their less organized counterparts and created thriving communities of comedians that not only attract the big-wigs from New York and L.A., but in some cases are making their own industry – one that doesn’t require outside finance or attention.

Beginning with random, poorly attended open mics in forgotten bars a decade earlier, Denver, Colorado has built a community of a couple hundred comics and several packed shows every night of the week.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 11.54.32 AMJim Breuer on God, Weed and the Death of Chris Farley

Westword 9/23/13

Known as a blitz-eyed giggler from Half Baked, or the animal-hybrid, nostalgia talk-show host Goat Boy fromSaturday Night Live, Jim Breuer has been subtly shifting his comedy content over the last five years, relating stories of domestic life and spiritual yearning through his autobiography and documentary. While avoiding any kind of religious conversion salesmanship (unlike his Half Bakedco-star, Stephen Baldwin), Breuer does not renounce his place as a stoner icon, or his years as a Joe Pesci impersonating superstar on SNL; instead, he uses those experiences to pass on some anecdotal, comedic wisdom to his audiences — going beyond tag lines like “That’s a fully, man.”

When we spoke with him In advance of his five-show run atComedy Works South, Breuer said he was excited to perform at the more suburban Comedy Works location, as much as he holds affection for the downtown club. Digging through his back catalogue of ’90s comedy history, he talked with us about the glamor and illusions of high-profile comedy, and struggling to maintain a marriage and sanity while operating next to self-destructive yet brilliant icons like his late friend Chris Farley.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 11.59.31 AMJon Lovitz On Hating Obama and Loving The Simpsons

Westword 9/20/13

A wild-mannered legend of comedy history, Jon Lovitz has created a mid-tempo career with roles on The Simpsonsand in movies like Casino Jack and Woody Allen’s Small Time Crooks since his unforgettable years as a pathological liar and Jewish Santa on Saturday Night Live. Rarely a leading man and at times embroiling himself in controversial feuds (such as his bust-up with Kevin Smith last summer, when Lovitz spewed a divisive rant against Obama), this character actor has delivered some of the most beloved jerks in comedy cinema.

Starting tonight, Lovitz will perform four shows of standup comedy at Comedy Works South. In anticipation of these shows, we touched base with Lovitz to chat about playing the villain, why The Critic was cancelled, and what he really thinks of Barack Obama.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 12.04.47 PMSleep-Talk With Me: Mike Birbiglia Chats About His Meteoric Rise

Westword 8/28/13

Mike Birbiglia is not interested in your laughter. Or at least, that’s not all he’s interested in. While most comedians shy away from long-form jokes — for fear of not getting any laughs and being stuck with a sinking ship for ten minutes — Birbiglia is all about the long-term relationship with his audience, building a report of tension and sympathy… and then wham! The joke you didn’t see coming knocks you off your perch.

Following up on the success of last year’s Sleepwalk With Me, the autobiographical film he made with This American Life producer Ira Glass, Birbiglia released his fourth comedy special, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, on Netflix just last week. Birbiglia took a break from his current comedy tour — which includes a five-show run at Comedy Works — to chat with us about sleep disorders, combining standup with theater, and why the horror of our lives is the best source of comedy.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 12.09.29 PMMarc Maron Discusses Being A Sober Artist and Not Speaking To Ex-Wives

Westword 8/20/13

If you believe that podcasting saved comedy, then Marc Maron is a messiah of humor. After enduring divorces, a flaccid comedy career and losing his job on Air America, in 2009 Maron launched the WTF podcast, recorded in the same garage he often contemplated killing himself in. Today WTF is one of the highest rated shows on iTunes, taking the medium of pop-culture interviews to a highly personal, yet culturally relevant, level of hipster confessionalism.

Now a kind of David Foster Wallace meets Morrissey voice of the “indie comedy” generation, Maron is enjoying a previously unimaginable level of success in the funny business. His recent memoir, Attempting Normal, was released as a double-feature pairing with the debut of his IFC television series, Maron, earlier this year. And the man who has appeared on Conan 46 times will be returning to Denver this weekend, delivering a four-show run at Comedy Works. We caught up with Maron while he waited in line at a barbershop in L.A., to discuss why failure is a good thing, how sobriety affects art, and why we don’t have to worry about him becoming happy.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 12.14.22 PMGetting Stoned With Denver Comic Sam Tallent

Westword 8/16/13

The members of the Fine Gentleman’s Club make no secret about how much they love getting high. Over the last year, some of us at Westword have had a lot of fun smoking up with comedians and musicians and asking them oddball questions that have nothing to do with anything important. In the course of interviewing standup comedian Sam Tallent for this week’s cover story on FGC, we took some extra time and got blitzed with this giant of humor and chat about why stoned crowds don’t laugh, Grecian mobsters with ice cream, and whether or not he would eat a talking goat.

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MartinShortMartin Short on Nixon, Canadian Comedy, and the Beautiful Weirdness of Steve Martin

Westword 2/22/13

Martin Short means different things to different people. Elitist comedy nerds can discuss the merits of Short’s SCTV Ed Grimley versus the Saturday Night Live version, while suburban Rom Com fans recognize the name from blockbuster sweet-tarts like Father of the Bride. And you can always count on beer-pong bros to have Innerspace, Three Amigos! and Mars Attacks in their massive DVD collections. Known as one of the most likable comedians in show business, Short is a treasured American icon (he’s actually Canadian, shhh) who will be performing at an Innovage Foundation fundraiser this Saturday, February 23.

We recently caught up with Short to pick his brain about comedy history and technique, Billy Crystal and why you’re allowed to be more weird in Canada.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 5.01.17 PMHow Bill Maher and Russell Brand Helped Me Mend A Broken Heart At The High Plains Comedy Festival

Westword 8/18/13

Comedy festivals are the perfect antidote to a nasty breakup. Not only because laughing activates several different sections of the brain, strengthening neurons that lead to insight and emotional balance, but because so many comedians love to bitch about heartbreak. Like Morrissey records or the films of Charlie Kaufman, a standup comic unloading his self-loathing is a comforting thing to watch when you’re feeling like an unlovable jackass.

I was a few weeks into my own singledom when I flew to Chicago for the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, so I was long past the Netflix and THC cookie dough binge phase of a breakup, yet still in the oxytocin (love hormone) withdrawal period that leaves you feeling pathetic and unhinged. Though a week of thinking and giggling with Bill Maher, Seth Meyers, Russell Brand and Denver’s Ben Roy (who did a staggering eight shows in three days) revived me into feeling like a considerably less desperate member of society.

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BobSagetBob Saget On How America’s Funniest Home Videos Created YouTube

Westword 10/1/13

Anyone over 25 remembers him as heroic single dad Danny Tanner on Full House, or the jolly host ofAmerica’s Funniest Home Videos. But anyone plugged into standup comedy over the last decade also knows him as the desperately foul-mouthed comic with jokes so vivid and foul he makes William Burroughs look like Mitt Romney.

Saget’s on his way to Denver this weekend for a four-show run at Comedy Works South; in advance of those shows, we caught up with this chameleon of comedy to chat about ditching celebrity, penis puppetry and whether or notAmerica’s Funniest Home Videos invented YouTube.

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Denver’s Fine Gentleman’s Club Is Having Too Much Fun


Westword 8/15/13

If public speaking is the most common human fear — statistically, it ranks even higher than death — then Denver is chock-full of masochists these days.

On any night of the week, you can find dozens of nervous people hanging around outside of bars and clubs, anxiously smoking cigarettes or improvising jokes while waiting for their five or ten minutes on the stage — not just speaking in public, but trying to disarm that public with humor. They’re competitive yet communal; often stoned, but never miss a gig. These are the mic-rats of the Denver comedy scene — and over the last decade, as this city’s funny business has become an increasingly serious industry, they’ve become unstoppable, thriving and multiplying like, well, rats.

“When I started doing standup in 2006, there was nothing,” says Sam Tallent, co-founder of the Fine Gentleman’s Club comedy team. “There were about three open mics you could do in a week. Today you can do a few shows every night, and everyone’s good now. You have to be good now. There’s all these swords slamming each other, sharpening their blades. These guys make me a better comic.”

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 11.34.18 PMRussell Brand at Just For Laughs, Chicago (Review)

LaughSpin 6/13/13

CHICAGO — It was a curious choice for Russell Brand to enter the Just For Laughs headlining stage to the Oasis track “Cigarettes & Alcohol,” considering that the famously sober comedian imbibes in neither.

That said, his set was loaded to the gills with familiar stories of Brand’s pre-enlightenment indulgences, anecdotes of booze and birds (along with some high-minded social commentary) that anyone familiar with his Booky Wook series had long-since committed to memory. While this matched his soundtrack (which also included junkie heroes The Libertines and Buzzcocks) this was disappointing for a longtime fan with great expectations for some exciting new material. So maybe the Oasis song was, for me at least, an appropriate choice: “I went looking for some action, but all I found was cigarettes and alcohol.”

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.14.04 PMWho Wore It Better: The Office US or UK?

Westword 5/14/13

Overhearing two pop-culturists argue about this comedy series, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a debate over gun-control or Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Passions can run high when a U.S. Office apologist clashes with a U.K. Office purist, leading to heated exchanges about whether David Brent was a more repulsively hilarious boss than Michael Scott, or if Pam and Jim made a better will-they-or-won’t-they? couple than Dawn and Tim. For anyone unfamiliar with either television program, this kind of battle can seem beyond trivial, but for those who’ve invested their time and hearts into these marathons of clerical awkwardness, it is as important as what to name your baby.

This Thursday, the U.S. Office will run its 200th and final episode (the U.K. version called it quits after fourteen), and as a devoted viewer of the series, I’m sentimental about seeing the final curtain fall on a story in which I’ve invested nine years of my life — though for me, the show’s become like a twin brother that went rabid, murdered his sibling and needs to be taken out behind the tool shed and mercifully put down.

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.27.02 PMRon White On Being A Pro-Gay, Pot Smoking, Blue Collar Comedian

Westword 5/13/13

While many comics will play to their political or cultural bases, Ron White is virtually impossible to pin down to any one audience. First rising to fame through the Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Jeff Foxworthy and Larry The Cable Guy, he became a hero to conservatives with his pro-death penalty and support-the-troops material. White is far from a right-wing pundit, thought, speaking openly about his drug use and belief that everyone — including himself — is a little gay. The 27-year veteran of standup backed that up as the producer of the documentary Bridegroom, a story about the struggles of unmarried same-sex couples dealing with the death of a partner — which recently won the Tribeca Audience Award for Best Documentary).

When Ron White is at the Temple Buell — this Friday, when he’ll be joined by local comic Josh Blue, he’ll bring together an eclectic mix of comedy fans who enjoy his brutal honesty. In advance of that gig, we spoke with White over the phone from Texas, and he shared some stories of his early days as a comic, discussed his crossover appeal, and congratulated Colorado for legalizing marijuana.

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.18.00 PMMarc Maron’s New IFC Series Will Make You Want To Shoot Yourself In The Face

Westword 5/7/13

The long-awaited autobiographical comedy Maron has finally arrived on IFC, bringing all the anxiety, self-loathing and standup comedy wisdom of this podcasting pioneer into the homes of normal folks (i.e. non-comedy nerds), who were surely forced to watch its premiere by their sycophantic boyfriends. And I gotta say…it’s not great. As a fan of the WTF podcast, this show felt like a lazy Xerox of Marc Maron’s on-stage and online persona, seemingly rushed to production by overconfident disciples who assumed that his naked misery would translate to something interesting on screen. It doesn’t.

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.22.50 PMChris Hardwick Talks MTV and When Dennis Miller Became An Asshole

Westword 5/1/13

In 2013, being called a nerd isn’t the insult that it once was. Practically no one uses the term negatively anymore, and there’s no shortage of people who proudly wear the nerd badge as a cultural identity. But if there’s still such a thing as a king of the nerds, the honor would probably go to standup comic Chris Hardwick (or Peter Jackson). Hardwick’s wildly popular comedy podcast The Nerdist is at least partially responsible for the geekster population boom.

In anticipation of his upcoming five-show run at Comedy Works beginning May 2, we caught up with the surprisingly well-dressed Hardwick to get into an ultra-dweeby meta-debate about just who has the right to call themselves a nerd — while occasionally digressing into topics like hipsters, post-music MTV and the moment Dennis Miller stopped being funny and suddenly became an asshole.

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jfl13_BenRoy_715x353_051420130558Denver comedy collective The Grawlix thrives without fleeing to the coasts

LaughSpin 5/7/13

Whether it’s Austin, Seattle or Detroit, every non-coast comedy scene deals with the same conundrum: You build a community of talented standups, and just when things are looking good, the scene’s most prominent comics ditch their home-town for the sink-or-swim world of L.A. or New York. Though Denver’s comedy trio, The Grawlix, are seeking to break that tradition, and with a highly successful monthly stage show, a hilarious web series (often featured on Funny Or Die) and their new, Amazon funded sit-com pilot, Those Who Can’t, they’re chances of remaining land-locked funny-men are looking pretty good.

“By the standards of any scene, we all should have left Denver four or five years ago,” says Grawlix’s Adam Cayton-Holland, who was named one of Esquire’s Best New Comedians in 2012 and enjoyed a standup spot on Conan last January. “You hit a glass ceiling in a smaller city, and that’s when everyone moves. But we’re a test case that asks: What if a group of comics became good, and stayed in their scene?”

Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 10.37.55 PMDid Saturday Night Live Steal This Kim Jong-Un Gag From The Onion?

Westword 4/9/13

Last weekend’s Saturday Night Live cold open featured a somewhat unconvincing Bobby Moynihan playing the adorably chubby supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un. The sketch revolved around the husky dictator’s address to the people of NK, announcing a change in policy on two major fronts. The first was to reopen a nuclear facility capable of making weapons to leave their enemies “chagrined and discombobulated.” The second? “To lift our nation’s ban on same-sex marriage.”

It was a thoughtful and provocative skit, with a timely cameo by Dennis Rodman (fresh off his Un-friendly trip to North Korea), but did the SNL writers steal this gem of a premise from The Onion?

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FRED SAVAGE, DANICA MCKELLARFred Savage Love: Horrible Love Advice From The Wonder Years

Westword 3/26/13

Last Friday, the news broke that one-time tween-dream Fred Savage will direct Charlize Theron in the upcoming female buddy-pic Ladies Night. The film is being describedas Bridesmaids-esque, which means it will most likely be another mildly funny, wholly predictable rom-com attempt at proving that women can be just as marginalized and scatologically juvenile as their male opposites. This is nothing new for Savage, who spent six seasons on The Wonder Years misleading pubescent audiences into thinking that awkward, insecure, pint-sized whiners who get picked-on will always win over the taller, prettier girls they’ve been obsessing over.

And probably creating a few stalkers along the way.

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Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 11.06.18 PMAdam Carolla Calls Me An Asshole at the Paramount Theatre

Westword 4/4/13

Last Saturday night, tucked snugly in the middle of theParamount Theatre for the Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew Reunion Show, I found myself on the receiving end of some vitriolic crowd-work by Carolla, who called me an “asshole from some crunchy newspaper,” among other things, and berated me for a good four minutes, twisting around a debate we’d had earlier in the week about McDonald’s and obesity and basically calling me a lefty-lunatic with the intelligence of a bag of gravy, while 1,600 people laughed at my supposed idiocy.

Other than that, it was a great show.

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 12.22.41 PMEven Sobriety Can’t Tame Ben Roy’s Savage Humor

(Long Form)

Westword 2/20/13

On an unseasonably warm winter day, Ben Roy is jogging through City Park. Dressed in running sneakers and a black hoodie that covers a galaxy of chest and arm tattoos, he passes a Latino family pushing strollers loaded with children, a yuppie couple walking a Labrador, an elderly loner trying to feed the geese.

A few paces behind, red-faced and out of breath, a journalist holds a microphone into the air, attempting to capture the comedian’s rapid-fire responses.

“We’re all flawed in design, in that our intellect is a slave to our emotion,” Roy says with a slight East Coast accent. “We feel something, and our intellect rationalizes it. So if something feels wrong but we want to keep doing it, we use our intellect to justify it. Being an addict feels wrong, but we can rationalize all sorts of reasons why we’re not an addict.”

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Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 5.07.26 PMTrans Comedian Jordan Wieleba Is Afraid Of No One

Out Front Colorado 1/21/13

More than music or theater, standup comedy is a medium where your personal identity goes under the spotlight. And, unlike those other two art forms, it can also sometimes be the last gasp of homophobia in the entertainment industry.

So you could understand why Jordan Wieleba waited five years into his standup comedy career to publicly transform it into her standup comedy career. “I was petrified,” Wieleba remembers of coming out as a woman not only to her family, but to a community of fans and colleagues who’d spent half a decade getting to know Jordan-the-boy. “For some people, it’s still taboo. People have called me a pervert, or called it a fetish. But what I do with my act is try to educate people through humor, show them we’re not all Crying Gameand Silence of the Lambs.”

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