As the arrival of spring melts away the remaining sludge of the February doldrums, comedy blooms anew in March. With visits from veteran standups, sets by hilarious newcomers and a chance to see the stars of TV's funniest sketch comedy series in person, there's a vast and crowded field of new entertainment options in Denver. While the lion's share of March's comedy offerings are imported, the lineup also includes a promising new free local showcase and the second round of the Comedy Works Funny Final Four contest. The fact that so many of these events take place in concert venues like the Gothic and Paramount is a testament to the drawing power of the headlining acts we have in town this month, as well as to Denver's boundless hunger for comedic entertainment. Here are the ten best comedy events to feed that hunger.
10) Comedy at the Club 10 p.m. Thursday, March 6 The Curtis Club After taking a two-year hiatus from hosting shows and crushing dreams, Greg Baumhauer has returned with a new, bimonthly comedy showcase. Featuring some of Denver's finest chuckle-merchants, Comedy at the Club will make its debut at the newly refurbished Curtis Club on March 6. With sets from Troy Walker, Jordan Doll, Adam Cayton Holland, Christie Buchele, Jim Hicox, and Bobby Crane, Baumhauer has curated March's best free evening of standup comedy that's sure to hit the sweet spot for old Squire Lounge nostalgists. For old time's sake, Baumhauer might even include a few new comics on the line-up for a sacrificial roasting. And it's all free.
9) Dan Soder March 13-16 Comedy Works Downtown A native son of Aurora, comedian Dan Soder returns home this month for a weekend of shows at the downtown Comedy Works. Soder won the New York's Funniest comedy competition in 2011, and since then, his acclaim has continued to grow, with a strong showing at Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival that helped lead to recent TV appearances on Conan, MTV2's The Guy Code and his own Comedy Central Half Hour special. He also co-hosts the podcast You Know What, Dude? with comedian Robert Kelly.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday; there's also a 7 p.m. Sunday show. Ticketsare $14 for the Thursday and Sunday shows, and $22 Friday and Saturday; get them on the Comedy Works website.
8) Donnell Rawlings March 27-30 Denver Improv Though he'll probably always be recognized as Ashy Larry from Chapelle's Show, comedian Donnell Rawlings has withstood the fallout of his hit show's conclusion by hitting the club circuit heavily over the past few years and appearing regularly on Chelsea Lately and New York's enduringly popular Hot 97 morning radio show. Despite achieving success on his own merits, Rawlings embraces his Chappelle's Show renown, even titling his 2010 standup special From Ashy to Classy in honor of his most famous character. Rawlings has also put together an impressive resume of acting roles over the years, turning up on everything from Spiderman II to The Wire. Rawlings is effortlessly charismatic and innately watchable on either stage or screen.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, with a 9:45 p.m. show on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $25; get them on the Denver Improv website.
7) Portlandia Early Screening and Q&A with Fred Armisen 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 Gothic Theatre Denver and Portland are spiritually similar cities. They're both replete with outdoorsy hipsters who obsess over their dietary restrictions and, thusly, they're both ripe for good-natured mockery. It's fitting, then, that Fred Armisen, the co-creator and star of IFC's hipster-skewering sketch show Portlandia, is visiting our fair city with a special sneak preview of next season's premiere. After screening the brand-new footage, Armisen will be available for a question and answer session with the audience. While the screening/Q&A combination event is usually a recipe for boredom, the SNL veteran and newly minted Late Night with Seth Meyers bandleader can be relied upon to keep things from getting too wonky.
Doors open at 8 for the 8:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $15; get them on the Gothic website. Keep reading for more of March's best comedy events.
6) Dom Irrera March 13-15 Comedy Works South Dom Irrera is a veteran of the comedy-club circuit and a former protege´of Rodney Dangerfield. A six-time American Comedy Award nominee, Irrera has performed on Montreal's Just For Laughs Festival more than any other American comic. He's appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show and The View; he's also managed a prolific acting career, turning up on Seinfeld and in a cameo in The Big Lebowski. DTC-area comedy fans are in good hands with a seasoned pro like Irrera on the mic.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $17 for the Thursday show, $25 for the weekend shows; get them at the Comedy Works website.
5) Sean Patton March 13-16 Denver Improv Denver has plenty of love for Sean Patton. After winning local hearts and minds with a strong showing at last summer's High Plains Comedy Festival, Patton returned to co-headline Sausage Fest, the inaugural Sexpot Comedy showcase. Although he's here frequently, it's worth seeing one of his headlining shows at the Denver Improv, because few comedians are more thrilling to watch in person. He's appeared on Conan and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; his debut album,Standard Operating Procedure ,was released by A Special Thing Records, and he recorded his own Comedy Central Half Hour special last year. They're all solid standup performances, but convey only a fraction of the experience of seeing Sean Patton live.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, with additional shows at 9:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For tickets, $17, go to the Denver Improv website.
4) W. Kamau Bell 8 p.m. Sunday, March 16 Soiled Dove Underground Proving that the funniest jokes are rooted in painful truths, W. Kamau Bell is a brilliant comedian whose astute sociopolitical commentary is leavened by his wry comedic voice. In town this month as a part of his Oh, Everything standup tour, Bell will be bringing his particular brand of satire to the Soiled Dove Underground. Named an Ambassador of Racial Justice by the ACLU and one of the "sexiest men of 2012" by Salon.com, Bell was catapulted to fame when Chris Rock saw his one-man show, The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour, and offered to produce a television show. That show, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, was recently cancelled by FXX, which sucks because Bell's commentary can only improve the media landscape. Or at least make it funnier.
Tickets are $20; buy them here.Keep reading for more of March's best comedy events.
3) Jim Gaffigan March 12-14 Temple Buell Theater Known for riffs on laziness and shitty food, Jim Gaffigan has achieved a level of everyman permeation most comics can only dream of. Gaffigan is one of those comics whose jokes are referenced in day-to-day exchanges, and whose "inside voice" joke-telling style is instantly recognizable. His first book, Dad Is Fat, was published last year and he self-released a standup special Mr. Universe the year before that. Gaffigan has also appeared on Portlandia, all three Law and Order franchises as well as in films like Away We Go. In town for two nights as a part of his White Bread tour, Gaffigan is a can't miss show.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. with an additional show at 10 p.m. Friday. For tickets, $39.95 to $49.95, click here.
2) Broad City Live! 8 and 10:30 p.m. Monday, March 24 Bluebird Theater Champion improvisers and lady-stoners Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are Upright Citizen's Brigade alumni who co-created and star in the Amy Poehler-produced television series Broad City on Comedy Central. Broad City, a shaggy sitcom informed by the rhythms of improvisation, just premiered in January, but its impact has been immediate. Jacobson and Glazer both have their roots in live performance, so the charms of their show should have no problem translating to the stage of the Bluebird Theater. Die-hard fans of the show face a small quandary, however, as the performance conflicts with the airtime of the Broad City season finale.
Tickets are $25; to buy them, click here.
1) Amy Schumer's Back Door Tour 8 p.m. March 26 Paramount Theater The creator and star of Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer, a pillar of the network's sketch-comedy renaissance, Amy Schumer has become the most famous comedian of her generation in a few short years. Westword named her last album, Mostly Sex Stuff, one of the best comedy specials of 2013. Recently seen stealing the season premiere of HBO's Girls with a hilarious cameo, Schumer also has a starring role in a Judd Apatow-produced film on the horizon. Her one-night only show in Denver, part of the Amy Schumer's Back Door tour, is a chance to take in the exquisitely raunchy standup that made her famous in the first place.
Tickets start at $37.50; find out more here.
Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.
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