As the year lumbers toward autumn and Denver shakes off its summer-festival hangovers, our city's bleary-eyed revelers have few better live entertainment options than comedy. From a nice roster of comedy-club headliners rolling through town to a banner month for some of Denver's most esteemed local showcases to a greedily stacked comedy festival, comedy fans have solid options nearly every week. Seriously, September is packed with so many great shows that we could easily double the list and glaring omissions would still abound. And the lineup gets off to a very strong start today.
10) Christian Finnegan September 18-21 The Denver Improv
Christian Finnegan first rose to prominence in the instant-classic Chappelle's Show sketch "Mad Real World," and has since made appearances on Are We There Yet, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The actor, writer, and comedian has recorded Premium Blend and Comedy Central Presents specials; he released his latest hour-long Au Contraire! in 2009. Finnegan is an adept cultural commentator with a wry voice who somehow avoids the pitfalls of facile snark.
Finnegan is headlining the entire weekend at the Improv, there's a 7:30 p.m. showtime each night, with additional 9:45 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday. Tickets cost $15 on the Denver Improv website.
9) Lucha Libre & Laughs Sunday, September 14 The Oriental Theater
Month after month, Lucha Libre & Laughs brings local fans an incomparable evening of entertainment, featuring brawls from underground wrestling superstars and Denver's funniest comedians, many of whom are rabid fans of the sport. In September, however, LLL -- which is itself a labor of love produced at great expense -- gives a little back by partnering with Go4TheGoal.org to organize a fundraiser for pediatric cancer patients. The title matches feature color commentary from Nathan Lund and Sam Tallent for the bouts between Xander Creed vs. El Tecolote and former WWE star and pediatric cancer survivor Zach Gowen vs. Lucha Champion Golden Star. Between matches, comedians Ian Douglas Terry, Josh Skillman and Jim Hicox will join host Jordan Doll to create a great time for a good cause.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show. Tickets cost $10 on the Oriental Theater's website.Comedy Works Larimer Square
At first glance, the idea of a comedy duo comprised of identical twins seems like a gimmick worthy of P.T. Barnum. The Sklar Brothers, however, have become unlikely comedy-nerd heroes by maintaining distinct identities while mining their biological connection for a seamless stage banter wherein Jason and Randy Sklar complete each other's jokes and riff with twice the speed of a single comic. The extensive resume they've accrued includes appearances on CSI, Comedy Bang Bang and Wild Hogs; the Sklars also have a knack for creating beloved shows that get cancelled before they have a chance to gain a cultural foothold, like Apartment 2F and ESPN's Cheap Seats. The Sklars tour regularly and co-host the popular sports podcast Sklarboro Country.
Showtimes and ticket prices vary. Go to the Comedy Works website to buy tickets.
7) Propaganda! Sunday, September 28 Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret
Over the past few years, Matt Monroe has emerged as one of the savviest ambassadors of the Denver comedy scene, leveraging the connections made during his frequent travels to pack his show with out-of-town crushers. His Westword-lauded signature showcase Propaganda! returns this month with a lineup that boasts some of the finest chuckle merchants from across the land, including Grant Pardee and headliner Ron Babcock from Los Angeles, Chicago's Puterbaugh Sisters, and Austin comics Aaron Brooks, Mac Blake and Danny Palumbo.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. showtime. Admission is free (though patrons are strongly encouraged to order a beverage from the bar). Keep reading for six more of the best comedy events in September.The Oriental Theater
The signature showcase of the Sexpot comedy brand returns home to the Oriental Theater this month with co-headliners Dan St. Germain and David Huntsberger. Featuring Sexpot host Jordan Doll, Brock Wilbur, Haley Driscoll, Jay Gillespie, pre-show hijinx from Jim Hicox and a new video from the Nix Brothers, the evening is packed with entertainment from beginning to hazy end. Climb aboard the weed and whimsy wagon!
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for an 8 p.m. showtime. Tickets cost $10 on the Oriental Theater website.
5) Tim and Eric & Dr. Steve Brule Monday, September 15 The Paramount Theatre
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are enfants terrible whose rhythm, aesthetic and sensibilities have informed everything from cinema to sketch comedy and deodorant advertising in the years since Tom Goes to the Mayor debuted on Adult Swim nearly a decade ago. Gallows humor abounds in Bedtime Stories, a hilariously macabre horror-comedy anthology in the vein of the Twilight Zone which makes its Adult Swim debut on September 18. The show is a huge step forward for the duo, who've mounted their second national live tour in preparation for the premiere. What sets this tour apart from their last is the inclusion of Dr. Steve Brule on the lineup. Played by character actor John C. Reilly, who relishes each awkward syllable in the role of a profoundly unsettling physician with dubious advice, Brule first appeared in interstitial segments on Awesome Show and then spun off into his own series, Check it out with Dr. Steve Brule.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. showtime. Ticket prices start at $37.50 and include downtown parking. They're available from Altitude tickets.
4) An Evening with Steven Wright Saturday, September 13 Chatauqua Auditorium
One-liner wunderkind Steven Wright, perhaps more so than any other comedian, is living proof of that classic Shakespearean adage, "Brevity is the soul of wit." Readily acknowledged as an influence to comedians like Mitch Heburg and Demetri Martin, Wright's non-sequitur punchlines and off-kilter delivery have earned him living legend status. Widely recognized for his laconic monotone voice (which served as a Greek chorus of sorts in Reservoir Dogs) and for playing the couch guy in Half Baked, Wright has recorded several specials, returned to the Tonight Show countless times since his debut there in 1982 and made several recent appearances on Louie. Wright's absurdist appeal will be on full display in the gorgeous Boulder venue.
Showtime is at 8 p.m. Tickets cost from $35 to $50 on the Chatauqua website. Keep reading for three more of the best comedy events in September.
3) Kyle Kinane September 3-6 Comedy Works Larimer Square
After years of standing out from his generation of journeymen comedians, Kyle Kinane is well on his way to finding an audience outside of the small-but-loyal contingent of comedy nerds who've followed his career for years. His two albums, Death of the Party and Whiskey Icarus, are in contention for contemporary classic status. Those unfamiliar with Kinane's act would likely recognize his gravelly baritone from his voice-over work in Comedy Central's interstitial ads. Kinane is a fixture of the network, showing up on Drunk History, @Midnight and Comedy Central Presents. Though Kinane's visits to Denver are frequent and filled with surprises, it's always worth seeing a comedian at the top of his game work out a new hour in the city's most ideal setting.
Showtimes and ticket prices vary. Go to Comedy Works' website to buy tickets.
2) Too Much Funstival! September 4-6 The Meadowlark
A top-notch standup showcase has always been a fixture of the Fine Gentleman's Club's Too Much Funstival!, but the true spirit of the weekend is more alive at the various bacchanals surrounding the programming. As it enters its fourth year, the Funstival has proven to be a community-building debauch that unites Denver's local comedy, arts and music scenes in a weekend of ostentatious frivolity. Previous Funstivals have achieved a carnival-like atmosphere with pool parties, bouncy castles, dunk tanks, and kickball games all soaked in beery camaraderie.
The Too Much Funstival! is spread across several venues and locations. Check the Facebook community page for updates. Admission is free but donations are encouraged.
1) The Oddball Comedy Festival Sunday, September 7 Red Rocks Amphitheater
After an entire summer filled with dick jokes reverberating off the majestic sandstone cliffs, Red Rocks is gearing up for its funniest show yet as the setting of the second annual Oddball Comedy Festival. Presented by Funny or Die and part of a 21-show tour, the Oddball Comedy Festival is staking its claim as the nation's best comedy tour by curating an unbeatable lineup and focusing on unconventional outdoor venues. The 2014 Oddball lineup boasts comic luminaries such as Aziz Ansari, Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Hannibal Buress, Marc Maron, Whitney Cummings, Demetri Martin and Chris Hardwick. The entire evening will be soundtracked to the beats of DJ Trauma (who just completed a tour with last year's Oddball headliner, Dave Chappelle) and there's also a concurrent show on a second stage hosted by alt-comedy darling Brody Stevens.
Doors open at 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 7. Tickets cost $99 and can be purchased from Red Rock's website.
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