Update: The location of Roy's upcoming set has been corrected below. If you know Denver comedy, you surely know Chuck Roy. The former anchor of the satirical newscast The Crop Report -- an Onion News Network-style series of short sketches on marijuana, Roy is one of the most established names in Denver comedy, hosting an endless rotation of events at Comedy Works (after making a name in L.A. on Craig Kilborn). And this Wednesday, Roy joins some of the town's most celebrated local comics at Comedy Works for POTroast -- a somewhat traditional roast, though instead of grilling a beloved yet past-his-prime icon, these roasters will be taking on an entity that many of them still love as much today as they did years ago: Ganja. We recently caught up with Chuck Roy to chat Amendment 64, his favorite public places to smoke, and why a stoned audience isn't as ideal as it sounds.
Westword: Since A64 has passed, have you noticed people's attitudes toward pot changing, maybe being more comfortable smoking pot outside comedy shows?
Chuck Roy: Oh, sure. You know, you gotta watch those electronic cigarettes if you own a bar. The changes of attitudes toward marijuana are beyond anything I could've imagined. I think it changed Denver commercially, you can see how Clear Channel failed to monetize that, never buying any pot ads -- but Westword figured it out. It's changed real estate, with all these new businesses popping up in spaces that never would've been rented otherwise. I'm a capitalist, and the way the price dropped for marijuana was incredible -- when you're in show business, paying fifty dollars an eighth was just damn painful.
When I lived in Hollywood working on Craig Kilborn, I had a hookup, but when I moved out here my dealer wouldn't give me a bro-deal for bringing people to him. But when medical dispensaries opened up, the price dropped down to $35 an eighth, and all those hash oils and edibles came onto the market. For the first seven months of [medical dispensary] decriminalization, I thought Denver was too stoned. If you know someone who just got their prescription, they're eating brownies all the time and melting their head.
In comedy greenrooms, the report on Denver weed from visiting comics is just outstanding.
Looking at comedy history, marijuana has played such a big role, with Lenny Bruce through to Cheech & Chong -- but it seems that marijuana comedy has changed so much since then, becoming more of an incidental lifestyle than an outrageous novelty.
Most touring acts that come through Denver have a quick joke to say about it. They see it on the news or they see all the dispensaries. When I did The Crop Report, I thought it was more Wall Street Journal jokes than it was munchies jokes. For instance, we had a joke about Golden Sacks, instead of Goldman Sachs, and the director of the show didn't get the joke for two years until Goldman got in some trouble. So we were trying to write smarter pot jokes.
It seems like it can be an easy way to win the audience over, with some stoners cheering just because you said something positive about weed.
[Laughs] You've obviously never told jokes to a stoned crowd. They're so slow to laugh. They're shy. Compared to a group of outgoing drunks, stoners tend to get a bit more introverted, the laughs are harder to get. They're more likely to nod, and tell you that the joke was funny, as opposed to laugh out loud. I turn down pot shows, or charge a lot of money, because the pacing and timing is off with stoners, as compared to a barroom or comedy club audience.
It's so interesting that you're having a marijuana event at a comedy club. Considering that comedy clubs have their two-drink minimum policy, and the whole A64 campaign was centered around treating alcohol like marijuana -- could you see a time when pot is served in comedy clubs? A two-joint minimum, perhaps?
Two-drink minimums are a common phrase, but it's really a two-order minimum. People can get food, which I think will be the stoner's cure. The brownie sundae at Comedy Works is my favorite thing to eat after smoking a bowl at a show.
I usually take a leisurely walk after I've introduced the headliner, and go take a minute to smoke before going in for the rest of the show. It's one of my favorite traditions -- that's the joy of living in Denver, and working at my favorite comedy club.
When I have a comedian in from out of town and I take him out for a smoke, I think that's when they see the real Denver. We're in the heart of downtown, and the comedians have moved the green room to a very scenic location. We don't just go around the corner to get a smoke in. We go to the bike path, which is a killer spot. Even the people who don't smoke come and hang out, and we just enjoy the moment. It reminds me that I moved to Denver for a certain lifestyle. I did Hollywood and I got so sick of traffic and Hollywood people. When I moved here it was about reclaiming my life, and taking time to enjoy things.
Speaking of Denver comedy, is there a notable difference in the performance a local comedian that does smoke pot regularly -- or just before showtime -- versus someone who never smokes?
No, I don't think you can really tell a difference. I've had super squeaky-clean corporate acts join me for a bowl, so I don't think you can tell. Whether it's a suit and tie, or wearing tie-die, you can't tell who's a stoner.
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The Comedy Works POTroast will feature Chuck Roy, Steve McGrew, Josh Blue, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, Troy Baxley, George McClure, Derrick Rush, Jodee Champion, Sam Tallent, Grawlix member Andrew Orvedahl, Roger Rittenhouse and, in the role of lady marijuana herself, Nora Lynch. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 27, at Comedy Works South, located at 5345 Landmark Place, Greenwood Village. Tickets are $15 and the show is 18+. For more information visit the event site.