For six years, Too Much Fun united Denver's comedy and DIY communities with an anarchic celebration of laughter, hedonism and the bonds of friendship. Unfortunately for local comedy fans, the sixth-anniversary showcase — at the Deer Pile on January 4 — will be its last.
The focus of a Westword feature story and winner of numerous Best of Denver awards, Too Much Fun was the brainchild of the Fine Gentleman's Club, a Denver comedy supergroup featuring Bobby Crane, Chris Charpentier, Nathan Lund and Sam Tallent. After an ignominious debut at the now-defunct Rockaway Tavern, the Gents found a fitting home at the Deer Pile, a community arts space whose DIY ethos dovetailed with the self-starting gents. In the years since, the venue has hosted dozens of similar events, though few have captured the peculiar energy that made Too Much Fun a success. And the Gents didn't stop with their Deer Pile shows; they founded the Too Much Funstival, a mashup of music, comedy and debauchery that thrived on its own disorganized harmony for three years.
"Too Much Fun was pure," Lund says. "You have to do a lot of things in comedy that you don't want to do. You do them for the money, or to meet people who are more connected than you; you do them to further your potential standup career. Too Much Fun wasn't one of those things. It was always supposed to be a free party that everyone was invited to. Free entertainment for all ages, put together by four best friends figuring it all out."
Indeed, an amiable chaos pervaded the air at Too Much Fun. It was a place where anything from surprise drop-ins from famous comics to altercations with half-naked hecklers could and would happen. Dave Chappelle once stopped by for an unexpected guest set and tried to buy a stranger's dog for thousands of dollars.
A generation of comedians from Denver and beyond found their voices at Too Much Fun. The stylish and well-coiffed crowds had no tolerance for hackery, yet never dismissed anyone out of snobbishness. True to its foundational DIY spirit, Too Much Fun was truly democratic, a place where quavering novices, hardened old road dogs and television stars could bask in the warm laughter of Denver's savviest audience. While the local comedy scene is boundlessly inventive and new shows crop up every week, it's doubtful that any show could ever truly take the place of Too Much Fun.
But thanks to a sting operation three months ago at City, O' City, the Deer Pile has been forced to curtail its donation beer service for the foreseeable future, effectively cutting off the revenue stream that enabled the Gents to pay their headliners. While the members have other reasons for calling it quits, the end of Too Much Fun nevertheless marks another loss for a DIY community still reeling from the shuttering of beloved local venues Glob and Rhinoceropolis.
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While the conclusion of Too Much Fun represents the end of an era, the show had definitely run its course. Charpentier and Tallent had moved out of the city and Crane had stepped down from his show-running role, leaving Lund in charge of a showcase everyone jokingly called "Too Much Lund." Attendance had begun to falter, and the combined tasks of fielding inquiries, booking comics and promoting the show each week overwhelmed Lund even before the beer fiasco dried up the show's financial future. "Running a weekly comedy show is tough, especially for six years," Lund admits. "But I'll never forget how much fun it was, either."
Fittingly, the showcase's six-year anniversary blowout on January 4 will also be the final curtain call for the Fine Gentleman's Club. If the standing-room-only audience at last week's show was any indication, we recommend arriving early and jealously guarding your free seats. In true Fine Gentleman's Club spirit, no lineup has yet been announced, but the lineups at Too Much Fun were never the draw. Belly laughs aside, people came to Too Much Fun for the chemistry between the Gents and to be welcomed into their fellowship.
So come say farewell as the Gents cue up Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" and wiggle their strange bodies into the Deer Pile show room one last time. The fun starts at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4. Admission is free; find out more here.