While it's true that a venue can make or break the show regardless of the talent on stage, this is doubly true with comedy. Location, comfort level, atmosphere, drink prices and, yes, quality of performers all play a large role in whether a comedy fan will Google your location when making Saturday night plans. Fortunately, Denver has some great comedy venues. And while a couple on our list of the top five are not strictly comedy venues (some mix it up with theater, cinema and music programming), they are all places where not only do comics love to do shows, but comedy fans often appreciate more than just the talent on the bill.
5. Voodoo Comedy Playhouse While Voodoo certainly has a choice location (right in the beating heart of downtown), it also manages to tame the beast of urban excitement and gracefully quiet its comedy crowds with soft lighting and a vintage stage set. Yet without the consistent appearances of such local favorites as Sam Tallent, Kristin Rand and a host of talented improv groups, this gem of a venue would just be another beautiful boat without a rudder.
4. Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret Known to many as a campy throwback to a slightly gayer version of Moulin Rouge (a perfectly honorable designation in its own right), over the last couple of years Lannie's has invited the blossoming standup scene into its glittery fold. With Matt Monroe's Propaganda! and Andrew Orvedahl's Greater Than Social Club (which bravely combines hard-rock bands with standup performances), this 16th Street Mall venue has become a destination for comedy fans more accustomed to DIY venues, but who will gladly fork over a few extra bucks for some classy weirdness.
3. Deer Pile Last year local iconoclast Dan Landes lived up to his reputation for spicing up Denver culture, this time moving from culinary to comedy with the Deer Pile venue, conveniently located above his City, O' City restaurant. Managed by Landes's childhood friend, Jonny DeStefano, the Pile has cemented its reputation as the germination point for the scene's best new comedy talent, with regular shows like Fine Gentleman's Club, Comedy and Cartoons, 3 Course Comedy and Tough Love (not to mention thrilling live music performances and film screenings also hosted there). As a result, you can show up at this Capitol Hill haven of DIY culture almost any night of the week and stumble upon something exciting.
Continue reading for our top picks.
2. The Bug Theatre Similar to Lannie's Clocktower, The Bug Theatre is known for a variety of entertainment options. And also recognizing the plethora of comedy talent erupting like carpet beetles onto the Denver nightlife scene, the Bug now provides a home for some of the best shows in town, like the improvised humor of Text-a-saurus (the audience thumb-selects the topics and submits them to the standups via cellphone) and the unstoppable comedy snowball that is The Grawlix. And with the Bug's classic cinema set-up, womb-like interior and humbly simple bar options, you're much less likely to deal with any bro-down heckling at this Highland venue.
1. Comedy Works While this thirty-year-old comedy staple may not be the most revolutionary venue, the fact remains that even with all the exciting new comics and stages bubbling up around Denver, Comedy Works remains the most consistently enjoyable place to catch not only the best local and national comedians (with an occasional exception for the Paramount), but enjoy excellent food and cocktails delivered by servers who whisper in church-like reverence while monologues are delivered on stage. While the downtown venue is superior in location and aesthetics, Comedy Works South is worth the commute to the Denver Tech Center for the top-notch talent this organization regularly brings to town.
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