The new year has arrived, and after a tumultuous time for comedy on both a local and national scale, it's a relief to have a fresh start. Fortunately, Denver comedy is in fighting shape for 2018, and the city's clubs, theaters and DIY venues all plan to put their best foot forward in the month ahead. Though primarily focused on standup showcases, our picks for the top ten comedy events in January also include movie-roasting, crowd-pleasing improv and Lucha Libre wrestling — an apt demonstration of the local comedy scene's breadth and creativity. So make a resolution that you can surely keep: See more comedy shows in 2018. The following ten are a good start.
Thursday, January 4, through Saturday, January 6
Comedy Works Downtown
Beth Stelling's profile continues to rise. After delivering a series of outstanding late-night appearances —seriously, who else could wring laughs from a guinea pig funeral?— on shows like Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Chelsea Lately, Stelling smashed her debut standup special on Comedy Central's Half Hour series, followed up by another stellar half-hour on Netflix's The Standups. She's also a staff writer on the HBO series Crashing and appeared on the sitcom Red Oaks. Stelling is poised to truly conquer in 2018, so don't miss the opportunity to see her perform now at the town's premier comedy venue. Showtimes and admission prices vary; visit the Comedy Works' box office page to learn more. Readers in the Fort Collins area can also catch Stelling on Sunday, January 7, at the Aggie Theatre, thanks to Fort Comedy.
Thursday, January 4, through Sunday, January 7
An internationally beloved performer known for excelling with clean material, Dean Edwards has performed in such far-flung destinations as South Africa, Egypt and Kuwait. He's also had a widely varied screen career, performing standup on The Late Show and Comics Unleashed, as well as turning up in films like Spiderman 3. A talented impressionist, Edwards has been featured on Celebrity Deathmatch and assumed Eddie Murphy's role as Donkey in Scared Shrekless. Despite this proficiency, Edwards was underutilized in sketches during his brief tenure as a featured player on Saturday Night Live and left the show after its 28th season. Redoubling his efforts at standup, Edwards has since toured constantly and even taught classes on technique to fledgling comics. The best lesson he could offer, however, comes through his performances before an appreciative comedy-club crowd. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. each evening, with an additional late show at 9:45 p.m. on the weekend. Tickets are $17 on the Denver Improv events page.
Mile High Movie Roast
Friday, January 5, and Friday, January 19, 7:30 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake and Littleton
Though it's changed names and venues over the years, the Mile High Movie Roast is a Denver comedy institution. Spearheaded by local mirth merchant Harrison Rains along with a small ensemble of the city's nimblest riffers, the ongoing series screens cult classics and fan favorites ripe for mockery in a Mystery Science Theater 3000-inspired event tailored perfectly for comedy-loving cinephiles. Join Rains and local favorite Aaron Urist as they boldly go where a few comics have probably gone before with a screening of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Don't fret if you can't make it to the Alamo's Sloan's Lake location on January 5: Urist and Rains will hold a reprise performance (also at 7:30 p.m.) at the Littleton outpost on Friday, January 19. Visit the Alamo Drafthouse box office page to buy tickets, $12.50, and find out more.
Lucha Libre & Laughs: Enter the 36th Chamber
Friday, January 5, 8 p.m.
The Oriental Theater
Denver's most inventive and elaborate comedy showcase comes off the ropes with a lineup as muscular as the luchadors themselves. The brainchild of wrestling superfan and bumbling referee Nick Gossert, Lucha Libre & Laughs is a perennial favorite whose fan base grows in both number and ferocity each month. In what's clearly a labor of love, Gossert hustles to not only book the funniest comics in Denver, but also to juggle the schedules of all the wrestlers involved, renting the ring and doing the lion's share of promotion, with a valuable assist from Sexpot Comedy and a cadre of local sponsors. The result is one of the most unique showcases in town. While it would seem that wrestling is the main attraction, the comedy is fully integrated into the show. In fact, the color commentary from Nathan Lund and Sam Tallent keeps the audience laughing during the feats of strength, often becoming the stealth highlight of the evening. The show is starting off 2018 strong, with a brawny lineup of LLL Champion Mike Sydal, Allie Gato, Lonnie Valdez, and Xander Kreed (to name but a few) in the ring, and Sarah Hake, Jose Macall, Ben Kronberg and more on the mic. The Oriental's doors open at 7 for the 8 p.m. showtime. Tickets are $10 via the Oriental Theater box office page.
Mas Kaos Comedy
Friday, January 5, 10 p.m.
Mas Kaos Pizzeria + Taqueria
Fort Comedy extends its ticklish tendrils even farther down the Front Range with Mas Kaos Comedy, a brand- new standup showcase hosted by Kyle Pogue. The inaugural outing is throwing down a precedent-setting giggle gauntlet with its first lineup, which features local smash-smiths Katie Bowman, Caitie Hannan and headliner Jordan Doll. Admission is free (which leaves guests with plenty of pizza and taco money left over), and we can't imagine a tastier way to support local artists. Find more information on Fort Comedy's Facebook events page.
50 First Jokes
Saturday, January 6, 8 p.m.
An annual tradition that grows more popular with each new year, 50 First Jokes is a cavalcade of comedy featuring fifty of the funniest people in the city, including Phil Palisoul, Adam Cayton-Holland, Nancy Norton, Stephen Agyei, emcee Timmi Lasley and many more. The conceit is simple: Each comic has under two minutes to debut his or her first jokes of the year. Admission is $15 via Nightout, where readers can also find more information, including a complete lineup. Proceeds from this year's ticket sales will benefit The Gathering Place. (Full disclosure: I'll be appearing on the show...along with 49 other comics.)
Friday, January 12, and Saturday, January 13, 7:30 p.m.
An institution that's been running for over 33 years, ComedySportz has proved to be one the most durable and reliably entertaining formats in the game. Originating in the Midwest, ComedySportz has spawned franchises all over the country, as well as in Germany and the United Kingdom. Quick-witted and family-friendly, it's the perfect show for viewers who still miss Whose Line is It Anyway?. Visit Goldstar events to buy tickets, $10 to $20, and find out more.
Rebel Yell Comedy
Saturday, January 13, 10 p.m.
Rebel Yell Comedy, a standup showcase hosted and curated by Allison Rose, has a scrappy underdog vibe that suits its venue's industrial surroundings. Recently relocated to Saturday nights, the show also happily coincides with the only night of the month that Rebel Restaurant offers unbeatable discounts on its delicious wings. January's Rebel Yell features local gadabouts Jacob Rupp, Timmi Lasley and Brent Gill, along with Los Angeles comic James Austin Johnson, who appeared on The Last Tycoon, Future Man and Hail Caesar! Admission is free; find more information on Rebel Yell's Facebook events page.
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January 19 through January 21, 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Bill Bellamy is a champion of the early-’90s Def Comedy Jam era. Though his movie career and stint on MTV have largely eclipsed his standup roots, Bellamy has made a return to the stage in recent years. Today his act has a decidedly family-friendly bent, with bits about playing outside supplanting the gratuitous T&A-filled debauchery of his How to Be a Player days. Showtimes are at 7:30 and 10 p.m.; visit Denver Improv's events calendar to buy tickets, $25, and learn more.
The Pump and Dump
Wednesday, January 24, 7:30 p.m.
Comedy Works South
We often don’t realize how underserved a particular demographic has been until someone comes along and fills that niche. Witness Pump and Dump, a unique evening of comedy and music that creates a friendly space where moms can bond in cathartic laughter and dance their cares away. The brainchild of Shayna Ferm and co-host MC Doula, aka Tracey Tee, Pump and Dump has grown from a neighborhood bar show into a phenomenon that delights crowds of breeders all over the country. Moms everywhere deserve a night out, and Tee and Ferm are there to provide one. Currently on a national tour, they’re bringing Pump and Dump back home to the Comedy Works South on Wednesday, January 24, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $22; buy tickets at the Comedy Works box office page.