Beginning in 1993, Avenue Theater owners Dave Johnson and Bob Wells starred in a news-based comedy program heard weekends on Clear Channel-owned KHOW radio. But in 1998, "we got fired," Johnson says, "because Clear Channel realized they could make more money off of people selling stuff than by producing their own show."
Eight years later, Radio Avenue, a once-a-month extravaganza whose latest edition takes place tonight, resurrects the concept with a twist: Johnson and Wells now perform humorous routines about current events in front of theater-goers. "We use the audience a lot," Johnson explains. "We'll have them provide sound effects like cheering for a scene at a rally instead of just passively watching." Afterward, Johnson pares down the peak moments to a tight one hour and airs the results the next day at 8 p.m. on KGNU (88.5 FM and 1390 AM). The editing component is important, since Radio Avenue also features a soapbox segment in which members of the crowd can step on stage and rant about any topic they'd like for ninety seconds. "We let people use whatever language they want, since I can add a beep tone over anything that would be a problem," Johnson reveals. "That way, you get the flavor of what was said, but not all the words that would get us canceled again."
Radio Avenue flips the switch at 6 p.m. at the Avenue Theater, 417 East 17th Avenue; admission is $7. For more information, dial 303-321-5925 or visit www.radioavenue.org.
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