Ben Kronberg, fresh off his Comedy Central special, heads to the Oriental Friday

Fresh from filming his half-hour special for Comedy Central, Ben Kronberg returns to Denver this Friday for a show at the Oriental Theater, his first hometown performance in over a year. And that's generating a lot of excitement in the local comedy community, which has been tickled by Kronberg since his days at the now-legendary Squire open mics and have followed his rise to national prominence. "Denver is a place where I feel known, and that is really special for me," Kronberg told us as he was riding Amtrak from Boston to New York the morning after filming his special, where he was supported by a small group of Denver fans who'd flown out for the occasion. "It was nice to have that; I felt represented out there. It shows how cool and supportive people in Denver are."

See also: - Ben Kronberg on his new Comedy Central special, and why he left Denver - March's top ten comedy shows - Adam Carolla calls me an asshole at The Paramount Theatre

Among this Denver cheering section were Deer Pile staffers Tiffany Williams and Johnny Morehouse, along with DP manager Jonny DeStefano, a longtime buddy of Kronberg. "I was stressed out for him," DeStefano says. "He pulled it off. He was fine, but I was nervous. The audience there was already so huge, and then with the Comedy Central filming, you got a sense that it was a big deal. He did a lot of older jokes that he hadn't done in a while, along with some new stuff. It was kind of a retrospective of his work.

Although some contention has come up regarding Kronberg leaving Denver for New York, "Colorado is Ben's home," DeStefano adds. "I wish people would see Ben as a representative of Colorado. His heart and soul are here, his family and best friends are here, and we should respect him as one of our brothers. He didn't leave Colorado to dis us; it was because he wanted challenge himself. If he hadn't moved to New York, he would not be on Comedy Central. It's hard for artists in Colorado to make a living at it. New York respects its artists."

Ben Kronberg will be performing with Sam Tallent, Will White and Aaron Urist at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue. Tickets are $10; for more information, visit www.theorientaltheater.com

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