Having fun and experiencing all that Denver has to offer needn't be the sole purview of bourgeois weekenders. Our city is too vibrant, too filled with the creations of odd characters to let something like pricey tickets keep you homebound. The following list offers ten wildly different opportunities to engage with the multi-colored tapestry of Denver culture, with everything from LGBTQ-friendly comedy to summertime festivals, film screenings and miniature opera shows. Keep reading for ten great local events you can attend for less than ten American dollars.
Gaybies Improv: Ask a Gay!
Thursday, June 15, 8 p.m.
Voodoo Comedy Playhouse
With Pride weekend festivities fully under way, Gaybies, Denver's only LGBTQ long-from improv troupe, have devised a clever new showcase for their extemporaneous talents. Gaybies Improv: Ask a Gay! invites audience members to ask any burning questions they've had about the LGBT community in a jokey and judgment-free environment before the Gaybies players improvise entire scenes prompted by the audience's questions. It's an exciting new form that could potentially yield as many teachable moments as it does belly laughs. Visit voodoocomedy.com to learn more and buy tickets.
Summer Film Series Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Friday, June 16, 6 p.m.
Historic Elitch Theater
Originally constructed in 1891, the Historic Elitch Theatre has gone through many incarnations in the years since its golden age. Gearing back up for another leisure season, Elitch's Summer Film Series launches on Friday, June 16, with a screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, beginning at 7 p.m.. The fun begins well before the screening, however; from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. guests can don VR headsets for a mind-blowing three-minute experience. Children six and under are admitted free, and ticket prices range from $5-$10. Visit historicelitchtheatre.org to learn more.
Friday, June 16, 7 p.m.
One of the first theme shows to take up residence in El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom, James Draper's Story Time has a somewhat misleading name. Rather than telling stories (check out We Still Like You or The Narrators for that), Draper's show calls upon every comic on the lineup to either share his or her best one-liners or generate enough new ones to fill five minutes. Like building a ship in a bottle or composing a haiku, telling a great one-liner joke requires focus, determination and maybe even a little mental illness. Shakespeare may have popularized the axiom "Brevity is the soul of wit," but Story Time pares it down to its very essence. Join Draper, along with this month's lineup, which features local comics Mallory Wallace, Steve Vanderploeg, Gabby Gutierrez-Reed, Matt Cobos and headliner Brett Hiker, for another show full of short jokes and long laughs.
Denver Zine Fest
Ratio Beerworks, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, Pon Pon
Cartoonists, comics geeks and zinesters: Break out your Sharpies, scissors and paper, because Denver Zine Library’s annual Zine Fest is here. The free annual event will start with a pre-party at Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street, on Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m., and the festival itself, which will showcase zinesters from around the country, workshops and more, starts on Saturday, June 17, at 10 a.m. at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom and the Other Side, 2635 Welton Street. Workshops will cover podcasting, zine-making and self-care strategies for tough times. An after-party will round out the day, starting at 6 p.m. at Pon Pon, 2528 Walnut Street. For more information, go to denverzinelibrary.org.
Juneteenth Music Festival
Saturday, June 17, 12 p.m.
The third weekend in June is traditionally rife with dueling festivals in Denver, but don’t let that clusterfuck keep you at home. In truth, it’s a more-the-merrier situation to seize, and we recommend making the rounds from one cultural group to another. With that in mind, you won’t want to bypass the Juneteenth Music Festival on Saturday, June 17, the Five Points neighborhood’s nod to the historical beginnings of African-American independence in the U.S. It’s a down-home grab bag of live blues, R&B and jazz music with a side of soul food, and also includes kids’ activities, merchant booths, a job fair, a car show and a parade leaving Manual High School at 26th Avenue and Gilpin Street at 11 a.m. for official Juneteenth festivities at 26th and Welton streets from noon to 7 p.m.; headlining hip-hopper Slick Rick performs at 1 p.m. Admission is free; learn more at juneteenthmusicfestival.com.
Casa de Haha: The Ellen Episode
Saturday, June 17, 1 p.m.
Denver Open Media
Ellen Degeneres has achieved the type of single-name ubiquity only available to sitcom stars or daytime talk show hosts, two fields of historic achievement for an affable comedian whose proud advocacy neither diminished nor defined her media empire. In her eponymous talk show Ellen, with its entrance boogies, viral stunts and goofy guest appearances, she invented a distinct style of her own, which makes it perfect fodder for the Casa de Haha treatment. The brainchild of local standup Daniel Reskin, Casa de Haha plays gently parodic tribute to a different chat-show staple each month — last month's show was a riff on The Daily Show — for a studio audience at Denver Open Media. Join Reskin, in character as "Allen" along with guests DJ Alisha B and Denver's favorite veterinarian comic, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, to enjoy this fun-filled taping, which includes all the free pizza and dancing your bellies and feet can handle. Visit the Casa de Haha Facebook event page to learn more.
Opera on Tap: An Evening of Bite-Sized Opera
Saturday, June 17, 6 p.m.
Syntax Physic Opera
While Syntax Physic Opera may have seemed like merely a fittingly fanciful name for the 1860s-inspired watering hole, its cushy red-velvet-lined stage has evolved into a fitting performance venue for everything from jazz to comedy, even opera. That tradition continues on Saturday, June 16, with Opera on Tap: an Evening of Bite-Sized Opera. While mounting a full operatic production requires elaborate costumes and set dressing, not to mention enough time to let epic stories unfold, Opera on Tap scours the canon for overlooked shorter works capable of enrapturing audiences in a less formal setting. In two hours' time, the Opera on Tap singers will perform selected works by Samuel Barber, Francis Poulenc, Jonathan Dove and more. Tickets are $8 pre-sale at eventbrite.com and $10 at the door. Visit operaontap.org to learn more.
Shakesbeer's A Midsummer Night's Dram
Saturday, June 17, 7:30 p.m.
The Thin Man
Revel in mortal foolishness with the Wit's Shakesbeer, a beery company of players presenting original adaptations of William Shakespeare's classic plays. A Midsummer Night's Dram, adapts one of the Bard's goofiest plays into a fleet and funny hour-long show. Furthermore, in grand Elizabethan fashion, the Shakesbeer players will be quaffing spirits right alongside the groundlings in the audience throughout the performance. Continuing its summer season, Shakesbeer's A Midsummer Night's Dram will be popping up at different venues across town throughout the summer season. While "the course of true love may never run smooth," the same can't be said of the Thin Man's tasty drinks. Free admission.
Boulder Comedy Show — Fourth Anniversary
Sunday, June 18, 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
For four years now, the Boulder Comedy Show has brought laughter to the historically joke-barren college town twice a night every Sunday. Seated Viking-style in the consistently packed taproom of the Bohemian Biergarten, beery audience members might be fickle, but they reward good jokes with hearty guffaws. Produced and hosted by Brent Gill, a dab-besotted CU alum with the stage presence required to warm up the crowd each week — no easy feat during any sports season — the Boulder Comedy Show boasts some of the best lineups in the state. Each week, Gill brings in the best local comics and national headliners; even The Daily Show's Hasan Minhaj dropped in for a surprise guest set. To celebrate the evening's fourth anniversary, Gill is assembling a crew of Boulder Comedy Show favorites like Gary Anderson, Chrissie Mayr, John "Hippieman" Novosad and Mo Alexander. Admission is $5 at the door; visit the Boulder Comedy Show Facebook page to learn more.
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Joel Berg Author Appearance
Monday, June 19, 5:30 p.m.
Our Mutual Friend Brewery
Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, is one of the world's foremost experts on the correlation between poverty and malnutrition. An analyst at the Progressive Policy Institute and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Berghas a charming dourness that makes him a favored guest on NPR, CNN, Fox News and even The Daily Show. He's got a new book out called America: We Need to Talk, published at the precise moment many Americans could use a good talking-to. Join Berg, along with a throng of beer-drinking pols, at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 19, at Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company, for a meet and greet, discussion and book signing. Then wash down all that policy with a cold brew. Admission is free; visit hungerfreeamerica.org to learn more and buy your own copy of Berg's book.
Looking for more to do? Go to the Westword calendar.