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.