With the dog days of summer fully under way, sweaty Coloradans may wish to heed the stars and avoid the sweltering outdoors. A second skyward glance, however, reveals that the August firmament sparkles with comedic luminaries all month long — many of them products of the Denver comedy brain trust. In fact, there are so many great shows produced by residents or recent expatriates that feature local talent in their lineup that we've added a bonus show to our list of the ten best comedy events in Denver this month. They're listed below in chronological order; keep reading to find out where to get your laughs in August.
10. Love in the Works
Monday, August 1, and Tuesday, August 2
Both Comedy Works locations
Since comedy's inception, romantic foibles have fueled standup comics, providing an endless wealth of material. Love in the Works, a live-dating show created and co-hosted by local joke jockeys Brent Gill and Janae Burris, updates this time-honored tradition by presiding over a ribald and chaotic first date. Unlike other Comedy Works showcases, this one encourages audiences to get involved — and doesn't require guests to stow their phones in a Yondr pouch. In fact, audience members volunteer to be contestants and write their own first-date questions, and those who aren't chosen cheer even harder when the hosts gently mock those who are. Whether you're single, coupled or part of a polyamorous triad, delight awaits at Love in the Works. Still haven't had your fill of Gill? He'll be tearing it down at his home club all month long, with Infauxmation showcases scheduled on August 15 and August 16 and headlining dates August 20 through August 31.
The August 1 show begins at 8 p.m. at Comedy Works Downtown. The August 2 show begins at 7:30 p.m. at Comedy Works South. Admission to either show is $12; tickets are available on the Comedy Works events page.
9. The Funnyside Sessions
Thursday, August 4
Image Brew Studios
The Funnyside Sessions — a standup, music, video and sketch hybrid showcase — demonstrates what Denver's disparate creative communities can achieve when they unite behind a good idea. Co-produced by Denver comedy power couple Mara Wiles and Kevin O'Brien, the show makes good use of Image Brew Studio's roomy acoustics and skilled production staff to create well-lit standup videos, sketches shot with cinematic flair, and a delightful time for everyone in attendance. This month's lineup features comedians Zach Welch, Meaghan Shaha, Mitch Jones and Erik Anker joining headliner Stephen Agyei for a celebration of Denver's DIY spirit.
Doors open at 7:30 for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets cost $5 at the door, and select brews from Ratio Beerworks are available with a donation.
8. Cristela Alonzo
Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August7
Comedy Works Downtown
Named one of L.A. Weekly's Ten Comics to Watch in 2014, Cristela Alonzo started her career touring with Carlos Mencia; she went on to be a staff writer on Mind of Mencia before branching out into shows at colleges and comedy clubs. After making strong appearances on @Midnight, Conan and Last Comic Standing as well as shooting her own Comedy Central half-hour special, Alonzo has fully emerged from the shadow of her controversial early benefactor. Alonzo made television history when she created the eponymous ABC sitcom Cristela, which, despite its brief episode count, maintains the designation of being the first network television series with a Latina star and show runner. This year Alonzo joined the garrulous panel on The View and lent her voice to the comedian-studded cast of Angry Birds The Movie, but standup has remained her wheelhouse throughout.
Ticket prices and showtimes vary; visit the Comedy Works events page for the complete schedule and to buy tickets.
7. Sexpot Comedy Presents: Kurt Braunholer
Sunday, August 7
Kurt Braunholer is a comedian whose absurd punchlines transcend the stage. He's performed standup on Conan, The Tonight Show and Chelsea Lately and appeared on New Girl, Drunk History and Bob's Burgers, but he's best known for outlandish stunts such as hiring a skywriter to spell out "How Do I Land?" across the skies, and riding a jet-ski down the full length of the Mississippi River to raise money for Heifer International. With show openers Ryan Nowell, Miriam Moreno, David Rodriguez, Nathan Lund and Anthony Crawford, Sexpot proves once again that it has the dankest comedy stash in Denver.
Doors open at 7 for an 8 p.m. showtime. Admission ranges from $15 to $17; tickets are available from the hi-dive events page.
6. Peek-a-boo for a Cure!
Sunday, August 7
Cherry Creek Country Club
Zander is a fourteen-month-old boy diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of ocular cancer, who has undergone a harrowing array of treatments, including the removal of his optic nerve and right eye. Terri Barton Gregg of Hold Please! productions, a close friend of Zander's family, has organized a number of benefit shows for worthwhile causes in the past, but rarely in more exigent circumstances than these. While comedians often feel like their job is a frivolous pursuit, performing for a cause demonstrates what they can do to give back. Gregg will serve as the master of ceremonies at this fundraiser that features local comics Mike King and Stephanie McHugh and the evening's headliner, John "Hippieman" Novosad, with musical accompaniment from Kenny Swagger.
Doors open at 5:30 for the 7:30 p.m. show. Admission is $125 and includes dinner and beer; tickets are available via Eventbrite. Readers who can't make the show but still want to help can donate to Z-Man's Cancer Fund on Give Forward.
Thursday, August 11 through Saturday, August 13
Comedy Works South
Star of '90s family-movie staples like Houseguest, First Kid and Jingle All the Way, Sinbad has remained a beloved standup for decades — and one who got his start at college in Denver. Broad, relatable and generally clean, Sinbad has always demonstrated what a little panache and flair can do for a standup comedy routine. After parodying his family-friendly image with a hilariously dark guest appearance on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sinbad competed in Celebrity Apprentice and on the Food Network's Chopped Tournament of Stars: Comedians. His most recent special, Sinbad: Make Me Wanna Holla!, aired on Comedy Central — the same network that named him one of the top 100 comedians of all time.
Showtimes are at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.; tickets are $33 on the Comedy Works events page.
4. Dean Edwards
Thursday, August 11, through Sunday, August 14
The Denver Improv
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 and turning up in films like Spiderman 3. A talented impressionist, Edwards has also 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.
3. Lucha Libre & Laughs: Fights on 44th
Friday, August 12
The Oriental Theater
We fully concede that Lucha Libre & Laughs has utterly strong-armed its way into our hearts. The Westword-lauded showcase continues its tradition of degenerate excellence with a rare Friday night prime-time slot at the historic Oriental Theater. Comedians Allison Rose, David Rodriguez and Omaha's Ryan De La Garza join headliner Aaron Urist to crack wise during the choreographed bloodsport. The ringside thrills include highlights like a tag-team match between Danger Dean Sammy Six Guns Jr. and the Left Coast Guerrillas and a title bout between LLL heavyweight champion Royce Isaacs and his spurned rival, Lucha Underground's Martin Casaus. As always, color commentators Nathan Lund and Sam Tallent will be on hand to giggle about wrestlers' butts.
Doors open at 7 for the 8 p.m. showtime. Admission is $10, and tickets are available from the Oriental Theater events page.
2. Ron Funches
Thursday, August 18, through Saturday, August 20
Comedy Works Downtown
Not unlike a human Pokémon, Funches is almost cartoonishly adorable — so it's no wonder he's found a home doing voice-over work for animated films and TV shows like Trolls, Bob's Burgers and Bojack Horseman. In addition to gently telling his jokes on Conan and The Tonight Show, Funches is also the reigning champion of the Internet on @Midnight. After three seasons in the ensemble cast of the NBC sitcom Undateable, Funches has landed another (arguably more fitting) role on the upcoming series Powerless, which debuts on the network this fall. Funches's last visit to Denver culminated in the recording of his acclaimed album The Funches of Us, so fans can enjoy a hot new hour of jokes from comedy's gentlest voice.
Showtimes and admission prices vary; visit the Comedy Works event page to buy tickets.
1. Sexpot Comedy Presents: Ron Lynch
Friday, August 19
The Bug Theatre
Ron Lynch is a comic's comic whose influence overshadows his notoriety. While not a household name, Lynch is a widely cited inspiration; Louis CK, for instance, recently remarked that he owes his entire career to the man often considered to be one of the forefathers of alternative comedy. Lynch has appeared on genre touchstones such as The Sarah Silverman Program and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! as well as loaned his voice to cultishly adored animated comedies like Home Movies, Bob's Burgers, Tom Goes to the Mayor and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. He truly shines live, however, as the lucky Angelenos who catch his weekly Tomorrow! showcase at the Steve Allen Theatre can attest. Denver comedy stalwarts John "Hippieman" Novosad and Greg Baumhauer will join Lynch for another fine evening of Sexpot-sponsored hilarity. (Full disclosure: I've been asked to emcee.)
Lynch will also be co-headlining another Sexpot-sponsored showcase, with cult favorite L.A. comic James Fritz and featuring a trio of Fort Collins standups (Kyle Pogue, Mallory Wallace and David Rodriguez), on August 20 the Prost Tasting Room in Fort Collins.
Showtime is 10 p.m. Admission is $10, and tickets are available from Nightout.
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Bonus: The High Plains Comedy Festival
Thursday, August 25 through Saturday, August 27
Over the past few years, the High Plains Comedy Festival has earned accolades for its tightly organized and well-curated showcases, and the producers intend to proudly continue that tradition in 2016. The odds of success are stacked in their favor, with headliners like Aparna Nancherla, Baron Vaughn, Kyle Kinane, Cameron Esposito, Bobcat Goldthwait and Garfunkel & Oates (to name but a few) joining the Denver standup scene's best and brightest for the comedic highlight of the year. In addition to the stacked lineup of performers, fans can enjoy special editions of beloved local showcases like Cartoons & Comedy, Lucha Libre & Laughs and Uncalled Four joining such national festival favorites as Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction and Picture This. (Another disclosure: I'm included in the High Plains lineup...August is a good month for me.)
VIP weekend passes have already sold out, but tickets remain for individual showcases, including the main event at the Paramount Theatre with Garfunkel & Oats. Find the complete schedule and buy tickets on the High Plains website.