As the Ides of March approach, Denverites continue to enjoy a bounty of comedy shows: Classicists, alternative comedy purists and locavores alike will all find entertainment suited to their tastes. Whether you consult a Gregorian or Julian calendar, you'll find plenty to keep Denver laughing from Nones to Kalends this month. Here are the ten best comedy events this month, presented in chronological order.
Tuesday, March 8
Comedy Works South
Brent Gill, a boisterous paragon of the Denver comedy scene for close to a decade, has been delighting area stoners and milfs alike with his raunchy jokes. His news parody show Infauxmation! has not only packed the house at Comedy Works' spacious south club, he's taken it on the road to New York City and Toronto. Scouring the less-than-reputable corners of the Internet for news of the weird — including stories about body-building Christian swingers and a woman who lived for weeks undetected in a Wal-Mart — and then cutting together a multimedia presentation, booking the comics and writing his own material, Infauxmation is a massive undertaking for Gill and his guests, and remains a great example of what Denver comedy can accomplish when good ideas have support. Join Gill along with this month's guests — Aaron Urist, Janae Burris and Nathan Lund —for an inventive mix of standup, improv and satire.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $12; tickets are available through the Comedy Works website.
9. David Cross
Tuesday, March 8
The Paramount Theatre
David Cross has built his career on the cutting edge of a comedy zeitgeist that is only now beginning to catch up to him. Though the anarchic Mr. Show with Bob and David never developed more than a cult following during its brief run on HBO, its influence on sketch comedy remains unquestionable. On standup albums like Shut Up You Fucking Baby! and the tour documentary Let America Laugh, Cross eschewed the traditional rhythms and spaces of standup, creating a hilarious hour of jokes brimming with righteous outrage during a maddening cultural era. He's most famous for the role of Dr. Tobias Fünke on Arrested Development, which ushered in a new era of joke density and filmic sophistication for network sitcoms, but his filmography is packed with groundbreaking comedic and even a few dramatic roles. The past two years have been particularly busy for Cross; in addition to co-producing four episodes of sketches for the Netflix revival of W/ Bob and David, he also starred in the third season of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret and announced his return to standup after a years-long hiatus. Our country may be as shambling as ever, but new jokes from Cross have a better claim at “Making America Great Again” than anyone campaigning for president. (Be sure to check back later this week for our Q&A with Cross. )
Cross is headlining the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, March 8, and the completely sold-out Boulder Theater the following night. The 8 p.m. Paramount show is already sold out, but tickets remain for the just-added 10:30 p.m. show. Admission prices start at $34.50; tickets are available from AltitudeTickets.
8. Rory Scovel
Comedy Works Downtown
Groundbreaking comedians are often said to have "the most original voice in comedy," but Rory Scovel has at least two or three of the most original voices in comedy. Flowing seamlessly from a club set polished enough to land him on Conan to character work so bizarre it approaches performance art, Scovel’s act is wildly unpredictable but always a delight to watch. Scovel, who’s appeared on @Midnight and Inside Amy Schumer in addition to Conan, commits fiercely to absurd premises, dropping non-sequitur chuckle bombs on the audience. While he’s enjoyed the acclaim of a comedian’s comedian for the past few years, the entertainment industry seems to be finally catching on to Scovel’s talents. Consistently the funniest part of the now-defunct TBS sitcom Ground Floor, Scovel appeared in several episodes of Undateable and has a starring role in Those Who Can’t, as well as two film projects currently in post-production.
Showtimes and admission prices vary; Go to Comedy Works' website to learn more and buy tickets.
7. Late Night at the Bug Theater with Ben Kronberg
Friday, March 11
The Bug Theatre
Ben Kronberg is among the most successful of Denver comedy expatriates, having amassed an impressive list of credits and accomplishments since moving to New York. Given his high-profile appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers, John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show and his own Comedy Central Half Hour, it's a surprise to see Kronberg drop in at ignominious Denver showcases and even open mics — but he has always made a point of returning to the scene where he developed his outré comedic voice. With his puckish wit and an impermeable poker face onstage, Kronberg is the sort of comic who inspires outlandish stories and admiration from his peers. The video clip of Kronberg's dust-up with fellow prodigal Denverite Roseanne Barr on the most recent season of Last Comic Standing went viral, becoming one of the few things people remember about the show's latest incarnation. While Sexpot Comedy has soldiered on throughout the past year, it hasn't yet found a regular home for its namesake showcase despite consistently drawing great headliners. The Bug Theatre has a fond tradition of supporting local shows (as long as they can continue to fill seats) and seems like a strategically ideal bedfellow for these intermittent Sexpot headliner showcases. Join Kronberg along with Sam Tallent, Zach Reinert, Mallory Wallace and emcee David Rodriguez as they unite to demonstrate how deep Colorado's well of funny is.
Showtime is 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10 plus a service fee; tickets are available from NightOut.
6. Jay Leno
Saturday, March 12
The Paramount Theatre
As longstanding Dave Letterman and Conan O'Brien loyalists, we must admit that it gives us pause to recommend this show. Putting his career-bookending Tonight Show scandals aside, however, the fact remains that Jay Leno is a comedy legend, deservedly added to the Television Hall of Fame in 2014. An avowed gearhead who's amassed a staggering private collection of rare automobiles, Leno shared some of his favorite cars with the public in his most recent televised venture, Jay Leno's Garage. Though his 22 years as a talk-show host have eclipsed his early career, Leno was an audience favorite and undeniable crusher in the '70s Los Angeles club circuit, right at the center of a golden era for the standup form. Whatever your opinion of his late-night tenure, it's good to see Leno return to the stage.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission prices start at $45 plus fees; tickets are available from Altitude Tickets.
5. Third Thursdays at the Tap
Thursday, March 17
Denver has witnessed a bevy of brewery shows bubble up over the past few months, to varying degrees of success. One the one hand, this phenomenon makes perfect sense: Our city's thirst for craft beer is profitably unquenchable and brewers are eager to define themselves by converting their tap rooms into live entertainment venues. On the other hand, the beer hall's open floor plans and high ceilings muddle laughter, and the crowds are too often peopled by indifferent bourgeoisie drinkers, nonplussed by the comedic intrusion into their evenings. That's why it helps to have an experienced host like Nathan Lund, who's developed the skills to command any room after years of co-hosting Too Much Fun! and the happy hour open mic at Three Kings Tavern. He also knows how to curate a lineup, though he'll have trouble topping this month's St. Patrick's Day showcase, which features local joke samurai Christie Buchele, Anthony Crawford, Janae Burris and Sam Tallent.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission costs $5 at the door.
4. Lewis Black
Saturday, March 19
Acerbic comedian and author Lewis Black is a thoroughly astute political comedian. Assuaging righteous outrage with laughter is every comedian's noble goal, but Black rises above the majority of his peers (at least those without their own eponymous television programs) with his keen analysis of social ills. Star and co-creator of Comedy Central's dearly missed debate series The Root of All Evil, Black is never better than when he has a point to prove. Bringing a shrewd rhetoric to a standup act that often crescendos into frothy shouting fits, Black commands an audience's full attention, and pays its members back tenfold with laughter. He's settled into his role as the elder statesman of The Daily Show, where his Back in Black segments have outlasted the tenures of former hosts Craig Kilborn and Jon Stewart and have proven to be a highlight of the still-young Trevor Noah era. Aside from standup and television, Black has also published three bestselling books beloved by fellow atheists, including Nothing Sacred, Me of Little Faith and Black Christmas. Sweeping through town on "The Emperor's New Clothes Tour," Black is back in Denver with a fiery new hour of jokes.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and showtime is 8 p.m. Admission prices range from $45-$75 plus fees, depending upon seating section; tickets are available from AXS.
3. Leslie Jones
Comedy Works South
Leslie Jones is making the most of her overdue notoriety. Partly thanks to a full-throated endorsement from alum Chris Rock, Jones was added to the cast of Saturday Night Live where her instant-classic Weekend Update segments and wild-eyed commitment to sketches made her an indispensable star within a few episodes. Though Jones has toured as a standup for decades and landed small film and television parts throughout her career, she's a comedic force of nature that cannot be resisted by the public much longer. Hot on the heels of a banner year that effectively doubled her IMDB résumé, Jones stole scenes in Trainwreck and Top Five, repeatedly demonstrating that she's more than ready for her starring role in the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot — whose all-female main cast inspired a morass of neck-bearded outcry from the MRA set and cautiously optimistic hope from reasonable people. As she's poised for major stardom, these shows represent a rare opportunity to see Leslie Jones perform in a club setting.
Showtimes and admission prices vary; go to the Comedy Works website to learn more and buy tickets.
2. Crush City
Saturday, March 26
The Savoy Events Center
Westword has proclaimed our support for Crush City since its very first show. Despite the fact that erstwhile co-host and crush cadet Jordan Doll has gone to seek his fortune in Los Angeles, Crush City will continue under the stewardship of lone host Aaron Urist and newly appointed producer Karen Wachtel. The headliner this month is Los Angeles-based comedian Andy Haynes, who kicks off a weekend of local shows on Wednesday, March 23, at Ratio Beerworks; the run culminates at the Savoy. Fret not: All is well in the city of crush.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $7 at the door.
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1. Jim Norton
Saturday, March 26
The Paramount Theatre
Jim Norton is an advocate of brazen, uncompromising honesty. A comic's comic who honed his skills in the unforgiving rooms of New York City, Norton has developed a cult following over his long career. In addition to his longstanding co-hosting gig on the massively popular radio program The Opie Show (formerly Opie & Anthony), Norton has also turned up on comedy-nerd favorites such as Louie and Inside Amy Schumer. A rabid defender of free speech, Norton recently hosted a delightfully weird interview talk show for VICE and penned an opinion column for Time magazine. On the Mouthful of Shame tour, Norton continues to refine his fearlessly vulnerable act, where no outlandish sexual proclivity will go un-riffed upon.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission costs $29.50 plus service fees from Altitude Tickets.