#53: Kevin O'Brien
A fixture in the local standup scene, Kevin O'Brien takes that scene a step or two forward every time he takes the mic. He's also served as the host of Arguments and Grievances, one of Denver's cleverest comedy nights, for nearly four years, and with fellow pop-culture aficionado Taylor Gonda, he co-hosts the thriving podcast These Things Matter, a mashup of culture-speak and insightful interviews with interesting people. We invited O'Brien to answer the 100CC questionnaire; read on to find out what makes his funny world spin.
Taylor Gonda and Kevin O'Brien hosting These Things Matter live.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Kevin O'Brien: Conan O'Brien before he left Late Night. I started watching Conan when I was eight years old, after I bought a black-and-white TV at a garage sale. My parents let me put it in my room, because they didn't know what they were doing. So I would stay up late laughing hysterically at all of the weird characters and nonsense going on. I loved how Conan would make fun of how cheap the show was or how stupid a bit was after it bombed. He and his writers created this amazing universe of ridiculous fun. I wanted to be a talk-show host when I was in the fourth grade because of that show. Today, every time I do a sketch show or a character, I'm usually just ripping off early Conan. I would have loved to be in that writer's room.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald. I could listen to him talk for days. He's been a comic, a reality-show star, security for the Rolling Stones, an old school boxer, a lothario, an Irish step dancer and a veterinarian.
These Things Matter live, at Lost Lake.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
What's your day job?
I drive Lyft -- just don't tell my insurance.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Probably start a production company that also has an educational component attached to it. I really like what Dave Eggers did in creating 826 Valencia. Maybe try to do something like that, but for comedy writing and performance. Kids could write and shoot web series or put on live sketch shows. The standup classes would just be twelve-year-olds at open mics in dive bars. Oh, and immediately pay off all my student loans.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help local comedy?
Pay the artists and stay out of their way. Go to shows that aren't in traditional venues.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Fez Garcia is a local treasure. He plays in a dozen bands at any given point, runs a cool venue in an old polka hall and is a real sweet guy. Each time I see one of his bands, I end up watching him play more than any other member. I am transfixed by the way he hits the drums with such passion and finesse. Plus, he has great hair.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Get funnier. Work the road. Also, Bobby Crane and I have developed a live Chatroulette variety show called ScatRoulette. An annoying person would call it an experiment. We did a test show, of sorts, that went really well and we have recently been talking to a couple different venues about doing a regular monthly show.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts (comedy/podcast) community in 2014 and beyond?
Podcast-wise, I've been listening to Christie Buchele's and Haley Driscoll's new show Empty Girlfriend. They talk to performers about their relationship history, and it can get pretty revealing, which I love in podcasts. As far as standup, I think Aaron Urist is pretty underrated. His peers love him, but I think he has been flying under the radar for far too long.
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Catch Arguments and Grievances at Vine Street Pub & Brewery beginning at 10 p.m. every third Sunday of the month. Shows are open to all ages, and admission is free. See excerpts from past shows on the comedy night's YouTube station. To keep current with episodes of These Things Matter, find the podcast on iTunes or visit the Tumblr and Facebook pages. And tune in later this week for our 100CC with Taylor Gonda.
To keep up with the Froyd's eye view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.