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.”