Over the past two years, Kevin O'Brien's weekly comedy event, Arguments and Grievances, has showcased some of Denver's finest comedic talent in a setting designed for maximum hysteria and controversy. Taking the the age-old format of binary debate performance, O'Brien hosts an evening of hilarious bickering over arbitrary topics like Punk vs. Heavy Metal, or Baths vs. Showers, each side going to increasingly spirited and maniacal lengths to linguistically destroy its opponent, and then letting audience applause decide the winner.
Last night the event celebrated its second birthday, and we were on hand to witness the Lincoln/Douglas style battle between some of the city's wildest characters. Here's a rundown of the night's heroes and villains.
See also: -Too Much Funstival comedians on how Denver's scene has evolved - Fine Gentleman's Club to record album at Comedy Works on Halloween - Kevin O'Brien on the These Things Matter podcast and Mile High Sci Fi - Squire Lounge Comedy Night: It lives! It lives!
HEALTH VS. WEALTH
Wearing a top-hat and speaking in the cartoonish voice of a smug, out-of-touch industrialist, Jordan Doll defended the merits of affluence over the trivialities of a well-maintained anatomy while Nathan Lund made a decent attempt of defending health, often digressing into humbling confessions of his own body's shortcomings.
Jordan Doll: I could spend all day eating gallons of omega 3's and kale. I could train to climb Mount Everest, or I could simply pay a Sherpa to let me ride him to the top like a goddamn mountain goat. . . . If the doctor tells me I'm sick, I simply order a new pod for my island of me-clones. I have five hearts in me, at least one of them still works. . . I had my skin burned off in a money-fire, and I was hunting bears with a spear-gun that very evening.
Nathan Lund: To help you guys choose sides: If you vote for health, you're voting for people like Marie Curie and Jack Lalanne. Jack Lalanne lived to be 92,000 years old. When he was seventy he dug up the Titanic and curled it. . . . But I don't know much about health, I haven't had health insurance in five years. I have a weird mark on my body exactly like the one Gorbachev has, and every time I shit my left arm hurts.
Winner: Jordan Doll
PUNK VS. METAL
Like Nathan Lund with health, the position of defending metal was begrudgingly thrust upon Aaron Urist (filling in for Andrew Orvedahl, who was originally slated to expound on the merits of the genre). This gave a huge upper-hand to punk fan Sam Tallent, who stole the show by wordlessly knocking over chairs and server stands, throwing the mic to the ground, jumping atop a Vine Street patron's table, and shouting his reverie into the faces of alarmed guests.
Sam Tallent: These are all just symbols, man! Rethink everything you've been told! I prepared for this debate the only way I know how: I smashed the window of a Starbucks, broke-in, huffed ether and fucked my way into a staff infection! Punk rock is the soundtrack to the revolution, you know what Van Halen is? The soundtrack to my aunt and uncle fucking. I can't hear Foghat without thinking about my dad trying to finger-bang my mom. And now neither will you.
Aaron Urist: Metal is founded on two questions: a.) Why should any guitar solo ever end? And b.) Why should any lyric be written about anything that isn't Norse mythology? . . . Maybe I should carve Slayer into my forehead. Bring me a knife! Bring me a knife you fucking pussies! I swear to God I'm not getting off this stage until someone brings me a knife.
Winner: Sam Tallent
NEW YORK VS. LOS ANGELES
While Bobby Crane defended the capitol of the world with lists of its cultural contributions (Woody Allen, The Ramones) against a backdrop of what L.A. has given us (Big Mama's House 2, Incubus), Troy Walker pointed out that New York is loud and insane, and L.A. is the place to be if you to relax and enjoy being famous.
Troy Walker: The island of Manhattan was purchased by the Dutch for the equivalent of 24 dollars, so just like everything else in New York City, it was overpriced. . . . New York has an entire river that smells like garbage, and they sell boat tours of it. That's like a walking tour of Chernobyl. . . . Scientists predict that Hurricane Sandy has killed all of New York's weaker rats, leaving only the biggest, strongest rats to breed. Although, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, none of the rats can be more than 32 ounces.
Bobby Crane: What's L.A.'s professional football team? Oh. yeah, they don't have one. What kind of self-respecting metropolis doesn't have a team in the NFL? Los Angeles? More like, Los An-jealous of how cool New York is. Los Angeles: they put the L.A. in lame.
Winner: Bobby Crane
BATH VS. SHOWER
While this was probably the most arbitrary topic of the evening, it aroused the most spirited debate. With Elliott Woolsey making a case for soaking in a warm tub, Chris Charpentier maintained that baths are just a process of marinating in your own filth, insisting that showers are ultimately sexier and more civilized.
Chris Charpentier: You ever try and masturbate in the shower? It's fun, it's easy, it's why we shower. You ever try and masturbate in the bathtub, dudes? It's loud, it's messy, it's nowhere near clean. I don't want to be gross, but it just sits on top! Whereas sex in a shower is great, you wash your arms with their arms, you wash torso with torso. You ever take a bath with someone? You're both in very unflattering positions the whole time, and there's a 100 percent chance that someone's toe is going up someone's butt-hole. You ready for that step in the relationship? You should have just taken a shower.
Elliott Woolsey: Sex in the shower is terrible. With the water cascading down her body, you ever try going down on your girlfriend in the shower? It's like being water-boarded, don't do it. . . . Terrible things happen in showers. I know it's uncomfortable, but you guys, how are we going to talk about showers without bringing up the holocaust? They weren't sent to the baths. Baths were for Romans, who were having a great fucking time until showers came along and killed six million people. I don't know why Chris [Charpentier] hates Jews, but a vote for showers is a vote for Hitler.
Winner: Elliot Woolsey
NATURE VS. NURTURE
You couldn't have asked for a better casting for this debate than the sweet, beloved Mara Wiles (of Ladyface) taking the side of nurture, while dark-hearted, prince of Colfax Greg Baumhauer defended the cold hand of nature as superior to maternal guidance. Nothing was off limits with Baumhauer, not even Wiles's serious diagnosis of lupus and her spot on the wait-list for a new kidney.
Mara Wiles: I thought I might be late for this debate: I was busy breast-feeding some orphans in the bathroom. They're filling out college applications now. . . . Movies with nice, nurturing figures like Mrs. Doubtfire, the kids end up with two parents that just love them too goddamn much. While movies with nature in them, like Into The Wild, the guy dies in a fucking bus, alone. And he had to deal with Kristin Stewart.
Greg Baumhauer: First of all, let me just say this: Naughty By Nurture would be the worst rap-group in history. "You down wit OPP? Well let's get therapy and talk about it." Now, Mara, I understand why you're against nature, I mean it's trying to fucking kill you. Let's see if we can nurture you up a kidney. . . . I knew I took a chance there. "Hey, why don't I make fun of the dying girl, everyone will love it!" Not so much. How do I dig out of this hole?
Winner: Mara Wiles
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Arguments and Grievances runs every third Sunday night at 10 p.m. at Vine Street Pub, located at 1700 Vine Street.