As summer draws to a close and the school year begins in earnest, workaday concerns crowd out the carefree vibe of summer. But you still need to get out and enjoy yourself, so we've assembled a list of ten shows that demonstrate the wide variety of comedic entertainments in town this month, a list that includes free shows produced by local talent, inventively themed showcases, and appearances by living legends and a genre-defying genius at the height of her career. In fact, there's such an abundance of great events this September that ten spots weren't enough to honor them all, and we've scattered a few shout-outs throughout the list. For a complete roster of local shows, Denver diehards should check out 5280Comedy.com.
10. D.L. Hughley
September 2 through September 4
The Denver Improv
One of the Original Kings of Comedy, D.L. Hughley has transcended a troubled upbringing to achieve the highest degree of success in his field. The flagship host of BET's ComicView, Hughley has a quick wit and comforting presence that have kept him working steadily on screen for decades. As an actor, he's turned up in comedic fare like Inspector Gadget, Soul Plane and Scary Movie 3 as well as eponymous sitcom The Hughleys. An outspoken political commentator, Hughley often appears on news-media panels, even attempting full-time punditry in 2008 on the short-lived CNN program D.L. Hughley Breaks the News. Like many multi-talented funny people, however, Hughley cannot resist the siren call of the stage, and he tours regularly, always stopping by the Improv when he's in town.
Showtime is at 7:30 p.m., with an additional late show at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $27 and available through the Denver Improv events page.
9. Good Cop, Bud Cop
Friday, September 2
Syntax Physic Opera
Good Cop, Bud Cop is a live podcast from affable stoner Geoff Tate and Emma Arnold, the harried mother of six; the two comedians have little in common but a gleefully absurd sense of humor. Arnold, a festival favorite and regular guest on Doug Loves Movies, lives in Idaho, where she apparently keeps bees. Tate, a Cincinnati-based comic who has toured regularly with Dougs Benson and Stanhope, has appeared on The Late Show With Craig Ferguson and Live at Gotham. In addition to appearing at Syntax, Good Cop, Bud Cop will also be recording live from The Dab Lounge in Colorado Springs on September 1 and License No. 1 in Boulder on September 3. Presented by your dab-dabbling friends at Sexpot Comedy.
Showtime is at 7 p.m. Admission costs $5 plus fees through Night Out.
8. Ratio Comedy Presents: Adam Cayton-Holland
Wednesday, September 7
Now that production on Season 2 of Tru TV's Those Who Can't has wrapped, hometown hero and former Westword scribe Adam Cayton-Holland has a month of great shows lined up in his native city. Kick off your month-long ACH binge with this festive brewery show featuring Ian Douglas Terry, Andrew Bueno and host Matt Cobos. Ratio keeps the laughter flowing freely all month long with Lucha Libre & Laughs on September 11 and the Ratio Comedy Battle Royale on September 21. Cayton-Holland will also be joining his Grawlix cohorts for a headlining engagement at Comedy Works Downtown on September 16.
Showtime is at 8 p.m. and admission is free.
7. Ali Wong
Comedy Works Downtown
Ali Wong is a hilarious young comic poised for mainstream success. She recorded her recent one-hour Netflix special Baby Cobra while seven months pregnant — thereby invalidating anybody else's excuse for bailing on a show — and the result was an ideal showcase for the talent she's spent over ten years developing. Wong has also appeared on Are You There, Chelsea?, Black Box and Inside Amy Schumer, and lent her voice to BoJack Horseman and The Angry Birds Movie. She now has a regular role in the ABC sitcom American Housewife on the horizon, so Denver fans would be wise to see her in a club setting before she starts headlining theaters.
Showtimes and admission prices vary; the early-Friday and late-Saturday shows have both sold out, so act quickly. Tickets are available on the Comedy Works events page.
6. We Still Like You
Friday, September 9
Most comedians have a trove of embarrassing stories and painful memories under their belt long before they first pick up a microphone, but we tend to keep them to ourselves or enshroud ugly truths in punchlines. At We Still Like You, however, performers are encouraged to dredge up their very worst tales and lay the truth bare for a supportive crowd that chants "We still like you" at the close of each story. Not unlike local favorite Arguments & Grievances, We Still Like You is the brainchild of a hardworking Midwestern transplant — comedian Dave Losso, in this case — who spearheaded a Denver branch of an ongoing Chicago live show and podcast. Joining Losso will be local jokesmiths Jose MaCall, Meaghan Shaha, Corey Rhoads, Kira MagCalen, Zach Reinert, Nathan Lund and Janae Burris, abandoning their set lists and revealing some dark secrets. The show is a fine edition to El Charrito's Comedy Room Room, whose calendar is chockablock with chuckles all September long. In addition to the rotating roster of Friday night theme shows, the Room Room has dabbled with scheduling special headliner events on Saturdays, a tradition that continues with Brandt Tobler on September 10.
Showtime is at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are strongly suggested.
Keep reading for five more comedy events in September.
5. Maria Bamford
Saturday, September 10
The Paramount Theatre
For years, Maria Bamford fandom was the lonely province of comedy-nerd cognoscenti. Despite outshining her peers in the seminal road documentary Comedians of Comedy and stealing scenes in the Netflix-funded fourth season of Arrested Development, Bamford didn't find a proper outlet for her genius until very recently. The Netflix original series Lady Dynamite is a banner achievement for the streaming service and a testament to what its laissez-faire approach to production can yield; the show is an overdue but perfectly fitting showcase of Bamford's ample gifts, offering unfamiliar viewers a taste of her standup and offering a scorching parody of her ubiquitous Target ad campaign. An unnervingly gifted vocal performer, Bamford has also lent her various wacky voices to cartoons like Legend of Korra, WordGirl and Adventure Time. Longtime fans and new converts alike can share in the delight of a rare Denver appearance.
Showtime is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34.50; get yours at Altitude Tickets.
4. T.J. Miller: The Meticulously Ridiculous Tour (Live HBO Special Filming)
Friday, September 16
The Paramount Theatre
Comedian T.J. Miller has a wild-eyed commitment to comedic absurdity that has served him well throughout his career. From his early days in Denver through his time in the Chicago comedy scene, Miller has emerged as one of this city's most unique standup exports, remarkable for his madman charisma and woolly mane. In short order, Miller stole scenes and joined impressive ensemble casts in movies like Our Idiot Brother, Yogi Bear 3D and Deadpool. He now has a starring role in HBO sitcom Silicon Valley and a number of projects currently in development, and his career continues to flourish. He hasn't forgotten his home town, however, choosing the Paramount Theatre for the culmination of his "Meticulously Ridiculous Tour" featuring Kate Miller and Nick Vatterott; he'll be filming his HBO one-hour special at the Paramount. Locals can support one of their own and have their laughs recorded for posterity.
Showtimes are at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m; ticket prices range from $19.50 to $39.50 via Altitude Tickets.
3. Dick Gregory
Wednesday, September 21
The Denver Improv
Legendary comedian, author and civil-rights activist Dick Gregory has been lighting up stages since the ’50s, releasing over fifteen standup albums. Gregory made his television debut back when The Tonight Show was hosted by Jack Paar, when he insisted on being welcomed over to the guest's seat, eschewing the minstrel role that Americans historically expected from black performers. His long career has taken several interesting detours, from developing "Bahamian Diet Nutritional Drink" to running as a write-in presidential candidate and trading conspiracy theories on The Alex Jones Show. Throughout his years in the public eye, however, Gregory has remained one of the funniest people alive.
Tickets, which cost $20 for general admission and $30 for VIP, are available from the Denver Improv events page.
2. Nate Bargatze
Comedy Works South
Nate Bargatze has appeared on Conan, Maron and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon; Fallon also featured Bargatze on his Clean Cut Comedy Tour. Bargatze's debut album, Yelled At by a Clown, made it to the Billboard Top Ten Comedy Charts, and he's toured extensively with the USO, performing for deployed troops in Iraq and Kuwait. His latest special, Full Time Magic, premiered last year on Comedy Central, and Denver fans now have the opportunity to watch his new hour take shape.
Showtimes are at 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. Admission is $20; tickets are available from the Comedy Works events page.
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1. Lucha Libre & Laughs: Tough Times on Tennyson
Sunday, September 25
The Oriental Theater
From the ashes of a logistically thwarted showcase during the High Plains Comedy Festival — the venue had to cancel — Lucha Libre & Laughs rises triumphantly, folding chair in hand and ready to strike. Ringside thrills abound, with bouts between wrestlers Lonnie Valdez, Mike Sydal, Royce Isaacs, Sammy Six Guns Jr. and the Left Coast Guerrillas, to name but a few. Color commentators Sam Tallent and Nathan Lund will be joined by a trio of Squire-hardened Denver comics, with emcee Bobby Valentino (aka Greg Baumhauer), feature act Kevin O'Brien and headliner Adam Cayton-Holland taking the stage between matches.
Doors open at 6:30 for the 7 p.m. showtime. Tickets cost $10; get them on the Oriental Theater events page.