A lot of stand-up comics who never died on the stage seem to be passing away off it these days. First, Denver's legendary Don Becker, who I wrote about in this June 19 feature, and then George Carlin, who was loved and revered the world over (read blogs about his legacy here and here). And although Larry Killingsworth, who died on June 22, never achieved the acclaim of those two, he'll be missed by the comics around town he nurtured and laughed with -- many of whom are expected to gather for a celebration of his life tonight.
I worked several rooms for Larry: Rooster’s in Broomfield, some dive in Longmont once. The hottest stages in town were not his stomping grounds. He was that comic/booker who always had some different bar in a strip-mall to try out -- the one who took comedy out to the working class ‘burbs for a one-nighter here, an open-mike there. But whereas too many people in too many scenes do so in a sleazy way, trying to get in and out with as much cash in their pockets as possible, Larry was more interested in spreading mirth while teaching young guys the trade. To that end, he also taught stand-up at Colorado Free University and offered his insightful feedback to comedy rookies and pros alike at rooms like Club 404, The Laughing Bean, Wits End.
Larry had a big booming laugh, one that you could hear over everyone else at the bar -- a welcoming, hearty guffaw that put comics on stage at ease. Sometimes a joke would bomb and the room would be silent save for Larry chuckling at the bar. And the sweet thing about him was, more often than not, that laugh was probably faked. He just wanted to save some rookie hack from feeling like a complete and total asshole.
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A plumber by trade, Larry was found dead in his Denver home; the cause of death is still undetermined. But he'll be remembered as an earnest, playful and hard-working comic whose mike was always open -- and he will be dearly missed. Bid him farewell tonight, June 26, at 9 p.m. at the Cigar Bar, 8529 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood. Click for more information. -- Adam Cayton-Holland