Although the blockbuster comedy lineup of September 2015 may be difficult to beat in terms of star-wattage, October's offerings deliver just as many laughs per minute. Halloween giggle treats abound this month, and everyone from cinephiles to political wonks to '90s nostalgists can find a show fancy enough to tickle. Among our to ten are seven locally produced showcases created by Denver comics with Denver talent on the lineup. We've included some unmissable shows as well, and since we found it difficult to narrow down the selection, here's a bonus to chill your funny bones: Tales From the Night, an improvised horror story that runs every Saturday at 7 p.m. (except October 10) all month long at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. Here are our top ten, presented in chronological order.
10) Hari Kondabolu
Thursday, October 1 through Saturday, October 3
Comedy Works Downtown
A veteran writer and correspondent on the unfortunately canceled Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, Hari Kondabolu has emerged as one of the sharpest political commentators in comedy. As a standup, Kondabolu has performed on such tastemaking shows as Conan, John Oliver's New York Standup Show and Comedy Central Presents; he also released an album, Waiting for 2042, on the esteemed Kill Rock Stars record label. Kick off your comedy month with Kondabolu's Denver debut!
Showtimes and admission prices vary; check the Comedy Works' website for details.
9) Kathleen Madigan
Saturday, October 3
The Paramount Theatre
American Comedy Award-winner Kathleen Madigan is among the most respected comics of her generation. Having started her career as a writer for Lewis Black and Garry Shandling, Madigan honed her comedic chops to the point that she remains Last Comic Standing's only unchallenged comedian. She's co-hosted three CMT Salute to the Troops specials with Ron White and her last special, Madigan Again, was named one of the best comedy albums of 2013 by iTunes. The evening before her Denver show, Madigan is stopping in Colorado Springs to play the Pikes Peak Center.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. showtime. Check the Comedy Works website for more information and links to buy tickets.
8) Mocktober Fest with Troy Baxley
Saturday, October 3
Jake's Sports & Spirits
Despite all of our city's great theaters, comedy clubs and DIY art spaces, the real lifeblood of the scene are shows in bars and breweries. After all, the only requirements there are a microphone, a supportive barkeep and an open-minded audience — so even an erstwhile sports bar like Jake's can be a great organic environment that fosters comedy. With a lineup including local mainstays like Steven Young, Jana James, Tiffie Pink, Derrick Rush, feature Aaron Urist and headliner Troy Baxley joining emcee Leif Cedar, there are plenty of reasons to turn away from the game and tune into laughter. Cedar is also producing The Comedy Cure, a free showcase with headliner Aaron Urist at Aurora's Coda Brewing Company on Friday, October 23 at 7 p.m.
Showtime is at 8 p.m.; tickets cost $3 at the door.
7) Infauxmation/Uncalled Four Crossover Show
Sunday, October 4
The Bohemian Biergarten
Boulder's best comedy show happens at 7 p.m. every Sunday in the airy, keg-festooned performance venue tucked into the Bohemian Biergarten. This month, however, it's consumed Infauxmation! and Uncalled Four — two of Denver's fiercest showcases — and morphed into a veritable cerberus of hilarity. Aside from their vested hosts (Brent Gill and Jake Browne), these shows share a tireless promotional ambition, a call to action for their performers to generate new material, and novel formats that can be exported to comedy festivals and industry towns. Gill, Aaron Urist, Nathan Lund and Rubi Nicholas square off in the gleefully irreverent card game before sharpening up their riff blades for Gill's satire of strange news stories. In further Uncalled Four news, Browne along with referee and co-creator Zac Maas have been hustling to prepare their Colorado expansion of the Worst Card Game Ever, and they're celebrating with a launch party at 3 Kings Tavern as a part of Sexpot Comedy's Class Clown Picture Day, at 8 p.m. Saturday, October 3. Sample cards from the expansion include Denver-themed gems like "Dealin' Doug, dealin' drugs."
The games begin at 7 p.m.; tickets are $5 at the door.
6) The Agency Presents Crossroads Comedy
Monday, October 12
The Crossroads Theater
The Agency is a sketch-comedy group comprised of hard-hustling Denver standups Corey Rhoads, Robert Abbot, Matt Wayman and Walter Booth. In addition to producing live sketches, videos, a small zine, a podcast and a monthly sketch/standup showcase Saturday nights at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, the Agency boys have been producing a monthly showcase with sketches, standups and live music at the Crossroads Theater in Five Points. Take advantage of the nearby RTD, because the $3 admission includes free beer to go with performances from local comics Grayson Nite, Cory Helie, Mara Wiles, Kevin O'Brien and Brian Hocker — all followed by live a set from Denver hip-hop elder statesman Felix Fast4ward.
Showtime is at 8 p.m.; tickets cost $3 and include all the free beer a reasonable person would drink.
5) Bob Saget
Friday, October 16 and Saturday, October 17
Comedy Works South
Bob Saget has a famously dichotomous public image: While he's still widely recognized for his '90s television ubiquity, Saget was a standup long before he became a huggy surrogate father to a generation of Full House viewers. The ribald nature of Saget's act is less shocking to today's comedy audiences, thanks to his appearance in The Aristocrats and a role that subverted his family-friendly image on Entourage; still, what stands out about Saget's humor is how defiantly strange it can be. Saget's penchant for the absurd shines through, whether he's onstage or behind the camera for the underrated cult-comedy Dirty Work. With his first book, Dirty Daddy, now out in paperback, Saget has achieved a gleefully vulgar staying power in pop culture.
Showtimes are 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. both nights. Tickets cost $38 on the Comedy Works' website.
4) Table Read
Thursday, October 22
The Bug Theater
Certain unwashed corners of the Internet arose in hue and cry at the announcement that their beloved Ghostbusters franchise was being rebooted with an all-female cast. Rather than celebrating news of a rare cinematic remake with a new spin on its source material, the morass of neck-bearded outcry compelled the studio to green-light another, dude-centric Ghostbusters reboot with SNL's human Triscuit cracker Colin Jost at the helm. Luckily, two local comics, podcasters and feminist allies Kevin O'Brien and Cory Helie have cooked up a show that proves when it comes to bustin' ghosts, gender is a concept every bit as illusory as the Slimer phantasm. Joined by a cast of local comedians including Mara Wiles, Janae Burris, Jordan Wieleba and Buntport Theatre's Hannah Duggan in the main roles, O'Brien and Helie will perform a live reading of the original Ghostbusters screenplay in its entirety.
Showtime is at 9 p.m.; admission is $5 at the door.
3) Mile High Sci Fi Vs. Poltergeist: The Tenth Anniversary
Friday, October 23
Mile High Sci Fi has been going strong for ten years under the steady stewardship of local comedian Harrison Rains, who's hosted a rogue's gallery of Denver's best comedians. Cracking wise through venue changes, fickle audiences and the passage of time, these comics and the shows are kept afloat by Rains' dogged effort and the help of sponsors like Oskar Blues Brewing Company and Denver Comic-Con. Riffing in the venerated tradtion of the cult-classic TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mile High Sci Fi blends the spectacle of a live show with the intimacy of whispering a joke to your friends. Boasting the return of Rains's erstwhile co-host, Matt Vogl, the event this month features the appropriately spooky 1982 original Poltergeist. Act soon, because tickets are selling out fast.
Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $12.50. Tickets are available on the Alamo Drafthouse website.
2) Sexpot Comedy Presents Chris Fairbanks
Saturday, October 24
3 Kings Tavern
Comedian, skateboarder and illustrator Chris Fairbanks is a favorite among the Sexpot coterie and, having appeared on the Vernal Equinox showcase and at the High Plains Comedy Festival, now something of a familiar face about town. Fairbanks has performed on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Last Comic Standing, and he's also the co-host of the podcast-cum-comedian ride-sharing service Do You Need a Ride? with Karen Kilgariff. Featuring a handpicked lineup of Denver locals, this show just so happens to fall upon Sexpot Comedy impresario Andy Juett's birthday, so it should be a bacchanal for the annals.
Showtime is at 9 p.m.; admission is $10. Tickets are available from HoldMyTicket.com.
Sunday, October 25
Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret
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An ambassador of sorts to the Denver comedy scene, Matt Monroe is an essential contact for inbound comics looking for stage time and lodgings while visiting our fair city. Named Best Comedy Night in our Best of Denver 2014 issue, Propaganda! excels thanks to Monroe's well-curated lineups, which bring a roster of enviable headliners through Lannie's classy showroom month after month. This round, comics Jordan Wieleba, Andrew Orvedahl, Sam Gordan from Chicago, Scott Boxembaum from Los Angeles and headliner Emily Maya Mills join guest host Eric Henderson while Monroe tours the American Southeast.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show; admission is free.
Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.