"I was at a comedy club in the Midwest once where three black comics got put on back-to-back just as a fluke," remembers Denver-based comedian Louis Johnson. "Myself, Tommy Davidson and Percy Crews, and we killed it; it was the funniest thing. The next day the front office of the company that booked us actually called the club to apologize. A lot of times you get a club that will book a Mexican comic one week, but not want one the next, or too many black comics. What does any of it matter? If they're funny, put them on."
So when Johnson's buddy and fellow comedian Billy D. Washington approached him about doing a show with four black comics, Johnson quickly climbed aboard. "Billy wanted to get together guys who were doing well in the business, but not as well as we should be," Johnson says. "A lot of us get labeled as too black for one venue, too white for another. We're trying to show that it doesn't matter who you are, how you're labeled, as long as you're funny."
And these guys are funny. Washington, Johnson and the two other nationally touring comedians -- B.T. and Vince Morris -- christened their show Sellout, because in the cutthroat comedy business, success is often misconstrued as compromising your ideals. Premiering tonight at 8 p.m., the show begins with a video montage of random people talking about their perceptions of "selling out." After that, the comics will stand together on stage, each delivering a short soliloquy about the label before engaging in a comedic game of hot potato, tossing different controversial topics -- from religion to the "N" word -- down the line. One by one, the four will then deliver their material in traditional stand-up fashion before winding things down with a rousing session of "Anything You've Ever Wanted to Ask a Black Man Before, Now's Your Chance."
The quartet is hoping to turn Sellout into a national tour, with several clubs already interested in the concept. So make sure to catch the Black Pack during their run at the Comedy Works, 1226 15th Street, through July 17, because the next opportunity might just be on Comedy Central, when they're making those Blue Collar boys think twice about a few things.
Pick a Show, Any Show
The ball's in your court at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday, when Buntport Theater punts a trio of possible scenarios for its April 2006 production. "We're going to let our audience decide which show it will be," says Matt Petraglia, a member of the popular company that brought us Magnets on the Fridge. "We're going to give them three ideas, and we're basically just going to pitch them to the audience, and they get to vote."
Buntport members will present about twenty minutes of text from the three scripts as they now exist. One potential play focuses on Vladimir Nabokov; a second would feature Greek Titans cavorting on real grass grown inside the theater; a third would follow the life of Washington Irving Bishop, a mentalist from the late 1800s who suffered from epilepsy and died during his own autopsy!
"I'm very interested to see which show the audience is going to pick," Petraglia says. "I think they're all very solid shows in design, concept and idea." Maybe so, but dying during his own autopsy?!?
Buntport's seventh season kicks off in October with two original premieres; in the meantime, the troupe will rerun four favorite Magnets episodes July 22-23. To make reservations for a pitching session ($12 ) or Magnets ($14), call 720-946-1388. Buntport is located at 717 Lipan Street. -- Patricia Calhoun
Beat the heat today and hit the Molly Brown House Museum, 1340 Pennsylvania Street, for the annual Summertime Cream Tea. Before indulging in special-blend iced teas and scones slathered in Devonshire cream, lemon curd or raspberry jam, explore the artifacts of the Unsinkable Mrs. Brown's life in Denver and the museum's newest exhibit, Daughters of Adventure, Tales of Intrepid Women Travelers. "Our summer exhibit is on Molly Brown's travels throughout the world," says curator Kerri Atter. "She went to India and Japan and Egypt and all these sorts of exotic places, so we have focused on her travels and other women who were like her." Just $14 buys a ticket to that elegant, adventurous past -- and icy air-conditioning. Reservations are required for the 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. seatings and are available by calling 303-832-4092 or visiting www.mollybrown.org. -- Jerri Theil
Starry, Starry Night
Catch the brightest celebs at Films on Fillmore.
When the afternoon thundershowers have subsided and the sun is setting over the mountains each night, I begin wondering what to do for the evening. Usually it involves wishing I were 21, then resigning myself to watching the History Channel -- again. But every Thursday night until the end of August, there's something to break up the pre-drinking age boredom: Films on Fillmore.
The free film series in Cherry Creek North kicks off its seventh summer tonight as Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) tries to decipher fact from the fiction of his father's adventurous life in Big Fish. The rest of the summer, you can get your fill of gorgeous stars and exciting crimes with Ocean's Twelve, zany golf antics and a stuffed gopher in Caddyshack, and cartoon ogres and a talking donkey in Shrek 2, among other movies.
The shows begin at dusk at Fillmore Plaza, Second Avenue and Fillmore Street. No tickets are necessary, but get there early to stake out a good viewing spot. And it doesn't have to be a dry night for everyone: Picnics are encouraged with or without a bottle of wine. For more information and a full schedule, go to www.denverfilm.org/filmsonfillmore.html. -- Amelia Langer