Comics Uncaged

Denver Zoo goes ape

THURS, 8/14

Laugh like a hyena this evening as the Third Annual Comedy Night cracks up the Denver Zoo. Hosted by Colorado comedian Kevin Fitzgerald, Animal Planet's infamous Emergency Vet, the chucklefest promises to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Fitzgerald, a hunky featured favorite at the Comedy Works, will roll with the punchlines during "The Love Show," a vaudeville-like variety act featuring a multimedia (and multi-species) group of humorists and physical performers. The festivities also include a silent auction of animal-themed treasures, a bounty of luscious hors d'oeuvres, and enough all-you-can-drink cocktails to get your "game" on (bah dum dum).

After a few snorts and snickers, all eyes (and wallets) will be focused on a live auction featuring original watercolor wonders by the internationally acclaimed artist Mshindi, a nine-year-old black rhinoceros born at the Denver Zoo. "He's a very talented little man," says keeper Christine Bobko. The one-ton artistic ruler of the wild kingdom is the only rhinoceros in the world known to paint with a brush, she adds, and his works sell for upwards of $1,500.

The Third Annual Comedy Night at the Denver Zoo (2300 Steele Street) will pluck thirty bucks from your purse, but that's chicken feed considering that it's all for a good cause: The Rocky Mountain Association of Zoo Keepers coordinates the event to raise money for wildlife conservatory organizations around the globe. This year, the association plans to send money to at least four programs -- including a cheetah research project in South Africa and a giraffe reserve in Namibia that lost its funding this year. "The money goes directly to animals that desperately need to be protected," says Bobko. "It's a great night to come out, laugh and raise some money for conservation."

The hilarity begins at 6:30 p.m.; reservations are required, and the event is limited to those 21 and over. Visit www.DenverZoo.org or call 303-376-4916 for a howling good time. -- Kity Ironton

You Auto Go
FRI, 8/15

Steamboat Springs's first Beaux Arts Festival, which began last Friday, continues to bubble over with artsy activities that continue through Sunday. This weekend's culminating events include numerous performances, an arts-and-crafts fair, ongoing street painting, found-object sculpting and a doghouse-as-art auction. But a little bit of inspiration from the Houston International Festival will also roll into town, in the form of what just might be Colorado's first Art Car Stampede, which features automotive masterpieces -- touted as "people's art" -- from across the state and nation. Pieces are on display in downtown Steamboat today and at the foot of Mount Werner tomorrow (and competing for a $500 prize); they include the pesky Roachster, Metamorphosis (a motorized caterpillar that changes into a butterfly), the Tiger Jeep from Houston and a mermaid car from McCoy, Colorado. You'll never look at your own clunker in quite the same way. For details, log on to www.steamboatsummer.com. -- Susan Froyd

Real Street Theater
SAT, 8/16

Cinema buffs heading to outdoor film festivals usually tuck lawn chairs under their arms, but tonight they may want to bring the lawn as well. Boom: The Sound of Eviction, Whispered Media's 96-minute documentary on San Francisco's new economic order, will be projected on the brick and mortar of the alley behind Breakdown Book Collective, 1409 Ogden Street. So pull up a chunk of concrete and enjoy the back-alley screening of a film the L.A. Timesdescribed as "witty and poignant" as it follows the gentrification of a city where low-paid service workers are displaced by investment-property-hungry, upwardly mobile super-highway men during the rise and fall of the dot-com era. The film is presented by the Pan African Arts Society and Visualized: Soul Star Cinema Series; showtime is at sundown, and donations are appreciated. Call 303-832-7952 for more information. -- Kity Ironton

Collections keeps the faith for hobbyists

Why do people collect things? For some, it may be nothing less than a harmless display of obsessive-compulsive disorder; for others, it's a slice of whimsy injected into their everyday lives. And what in the heck makes some stuff more collectible than the rest of the stuff? That's a mystery we may never solve. But here's a valiant attempt: Exhibit curator Jo Cole of the Curtis Arts and Humanities Center is very familiar with people who collect art (one of the tonier adjuncts of the collecting bug), and that got her thinking about people who collect everything else. Cole wondered if they didn't deserve a spot in the limelight, too. That's how the center's Collections Exhibit: Personal Treasures show, which opens today and continues through August 29, was born.

Cole put out a call, and many collectors answered. The exhibit that resulted turned out to be a wonderful high-and-low, kitsch-and-class mélange that includes madonnas, Raggedy Ann dolls, Japanese trinkets, dollhouse furniture, old radios and even pieces of fabric. Beware: After viewing this show, you may go home and start collecting rubber bands or bottle caps. But so what? A hobby's a hobby.

Curtis Arts is at 2349 East Orchard Road in Greenwood Village; for information, call 303-797-1779. -- Susan Froyd

Sign on the dotted punchline

Class clowns, rejoice! A new course begins next week at the Community College of Denver in which classroom antics could actually improve your grade. "I can teach anybody absolutely anything about comedy," says Julie Ireland, the new chair of CCD's theater department and the instructor of Standup Comedy 275.

The course will be organized so that students spend about a quarter of their time learning standup comedy and the rest practicing improv techniques. Ireland plans to have her pupils showcase their progress in informal performances throughout the semester, as well as at an official show -- with a paying audience -- in December. By then, she says, the class will have evolved into the first comedy troupe on the Auraria campus, to be known as "Scared Scriptless."

Standup Comedy 275 is open to anybody, and "the more the better," Ireland says. After all, the skills students will hone in the course -- quick thinking, public speaking and teamwork -- are assets off stage as well as on. Classes begin Monday, August 18, and will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 1 to 2:15 p.m. in the King Center. For more information, call Ireland at 303-894-0160, or go to www.ccd.edu for registration and tuition details. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz

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