But Seriously, Folks

Five local comics tell all.


Name, age, day job:

Donna Ayers, I'm a stay-at-home mom to my four-month-old son, Max, and I will be turning 37 at the end of July.

What's so funny? How about (from left) Greg 
Baumhauer, Donna Ayers, Andrew Orvedahl, Matt 
Conty and Jake Sharon.
Anthony Camera
What's so funny? How about (from left) Greg Baumhauer, Donna Ayers, Andrew Orvedahl, Matt Conty and Jake Sharon.

How long have you been doing comedy?

I had done comedy for a year, then I took an eight-month break to have my son. I've been back performing at least four nights per week and I try to see at least one or two pro shows a week at the Comedy Works.

What was your best time on stage?

I think the best experience was the first time I had done well. In my early twenties I was a social director at a Poconos resort and I tried comedy, but was unaware of what goes into a "stand-up performance." I didn't have a set list or any idea of what material I would do. I just thought I'd go be funny. Needless to say, I bombed. Who knew silence could be so loud? So I stayed offstage for about ten years and then just figured I'd give it one more shot. That time I rehearsed and got third place in a contest! What can I say? I was hooked.

Worst?

Any time I bomb. Bombing is the absolute worst, and here's the kicker: I love it because I'm able to re-evaluate my act. Why didn't it work? What did I do wrong? You learn more from getting your teeth kicked in than you do after a great experience.

Largest audience you've performed in front of?

Probably 350 or so at the Comedy Works. I've performed in Las Vegas, but I think Comedy Works is the biggest.

Favorite comedians:

Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce -- because they were so groundbreaking. They shook up the system. Bill Cosby for storytelling. Lily Tomlin for characters. Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller because they were able to break through at a time when a woman doing comedy was unheard of.

What do you think of the Denver scene?

The Denver scene is great! The Comedy Works is the number-four club in the nation. That's huge! The Works brings in the best talent, and they're incredible for letting newbie comics watch and learn. We also get a chance to play on stage to sell-out crowds on open-mike night. You can't get that opportunity in New York or L.A. The open mikes around town are awesome. There's plenty of stage time available. The comics are all supportive of one another. I've heard horror stories from comics about how bad it is in other cities, and they rave about what an oasis Denver is. Denver is a great place to start.

Why do you do comedy?

I do it because I have to. Even when it's bad, it's good. I like taking an idea and crafting it until it works. I love the writing, the performing; there is no greater high than having it all work and come together. Comedy can be so easy, and then some nights the most difficult thing in the world. There are times you just want to bang your head against the wall, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I want to be a great comic. I don't want to be an actress. I don't want to be a sitcom star. I want to be a great comic, not a female comic. Just a great comic.


Name, age, day job:

Matt Conty, age 27, I work in the network operation center for a wireless ISP, with a bunch of engineers.

How long have you been doing comedy?

Three years.

What was your best time on stage?

I don't have a specific show or set that I think, "That's what keeps me going." Probably because the only thing I can think about now is how shitty my last show was, which quickly erased the memory of a good show I had earlier that same night. For now, my best moments come when I figure out a new idea, about once every seven or eight months.

Worst?

Well, for me it works both ways, so my last show sticks in my head. Man, did that suck. All the right variables for a piece-of-shit performance: me sucking, a crowd full of people not interested, etc.

Largest audience you've performed in front of?

289 people.

Favorite comedians:

I have a great deal of respect for anyone doing it, so I get a lot of inspiration from the people I work with on a regular basis around here. I like what Seinfeld did with his career, definitely.

What do you think of the Denver scene?

I think it's good enough to keep me wanting to perform as much as I can. I've never been involved in another stand-up scene to compare. The Denver scene doesn't seem to pay me that well, though. We need a union.

Why do you do comedy?

I got into comedy because I'm funny, and everybody who's ever spent time with me knows it. And if they didn't, it was probably their fault. As for an aspiration, I would like to play Letterman.

What question should I have asked you?

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