Though the month of August was named for the relatively humorless military dictator who became the first absolute ruler of the Roman Empire, we like to think that even the ruthless Caesar Augustus would find something to chuckle about at one of the many fine comedy shows slated for Denver in his namesake month. Along with benedictions from such members of the comic pantheon as "Weird Al" Yankovic, Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle, August is overstuffed with comedic riches, ranging from a drag queen diva to a magical duo. No matter what tickles your funny bone, you'll find something to giggle about on our list of the ten best comedy events in August.
"Weird Al" Yankovic with the Colorado Symphony
Thursday, August 1, 7:30 p.m.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
$49.95 to $90
Al Yankovic, pop culture's preeminent parodist, is joining musical forces with orchestras all over the country for the "Strings Attached" tour, presenting his greatest hits in grander fashion than fans have heard before. Celebrated by over three generations of comedy nerds for his agreeably wacky spoofs of hit songs — he recently reworked Pharrell's earworm "Happy" into an ode to bad taste, "Tacky" — "Weird Al" holds equal appeal for kids just beginning to develop a sense of humor and adults jaded by irony. Though he regularly appears on cultishly adored shows like Drunk History, Conan and Comedy Bang Bang (in addition to enjoying a thriving voiceover acting career), Yankovic is never finer than live on stage with an accordion in his hands and some silly lyrics in his heart. Don't miss out on a one-of-a-kind collaboration when he joins the Colorado Symphony for an unforgettable evening at the state's most famous concert setting. To buy tickets, $49.95 to $90, and find out more, visit the Red Rocks Amphitheatre events calendar.
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Friday, August 2, and Saturday, August 3, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
Kick off August with a laugh when standup veteran, character actor and Denver Improv favorite Luenell returns to the Mile High City with a fresh hour of jokes and zero fucks to give. Fierce, funny and flashy enough to fully earn her mononymous status, Luenell began her career on an Oakland TV station before breaking into the wider show-business arena with bit parts in The Rock and So I Married an Axe Murderer. After making her televised standup debut on BET's Comicview, Luenell went on to appear on Snoop Dogg Presents: The Bad Girls of Comedy, The Comedy Central Roast of Flava Flav and Apollo Night L.A.; she also recorded her own one-hour special, Hey Luenell. While she recently co-starred in the Think Like a Man and Hotel Transylvania series (and briefly turned up in the Oscar-nominated A Star Is Born), Luenell indisputably shines brightest on a comedy club stage. Luckily, Denverites don't have to look too far for proof. Get tickets, $20, and further details on the Denver Improv website.
Saturday, August 3, 7:30 p.m.
$10 to $15
Anyone who contends that making people laugh is all art and no science clearly hasn't seen David Huntsberger, the comic laureate of conceptual learning. Host of the universe-pondering podcast Space Cave and grad of Colorado State University's Civil Engineering program, Huntsberger's humorous explorations of parallel dimensions, time travel and artificial intelligence offer a rare simultaneous treat for your left and right brain. After appearing on shows like Last Comic Standing and Premium Blend, recording a trio of celebrated albums (Hello Robot, Humanitis and Explosion Land) on the Stand-Up Records label, and hosting the unfortunately short-lived SyFy series Reactor, the multi-talented Huntsberger began dabbling in more visual expressions, ultimately creating the comics series Just Perfect and the animated comedy special One-Headed Beast. Come see what Huntsberger's got on his brilliant mind when he lands at Denver's Bug Theatre with opening acts Eric Lyons, Tyrel Hartman, Geoff Tice and Andie Main. Go to Bug Theatre's Brown Paper Tickets page to buy tickets, $10 (you'll pay $15 at the door), and learn more.
Dave Chappelle and Jon Stewart
Friday, August 8, 8 p.m.
Friday, August 9, 8 p.m.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder (not to mention funnier), and few living comedians prove the old axiom more compellingly than Dave Chappelle and Jon Stewart. A pair of comedy legends whose public esteem only deepened after they retired from their eponymous hit Comedy Central series — Chappelle's Show and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, respectively — Chappelle and Stewart are joining their considerable forces for a nationwide comedy tour that was originally slated to stop in Denver for a one-night-only performance at Red Rocks, but just added an earlier show at the Fillmore. Whether dropping by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert for gut-busting surprise rants, delivering an impassioned testimony to a congressional committee on behalf of 9/11 first responders or starring in blockbuster Netflix specials, Stewart and Chapelle make a huge cultural impact with each of their rare public appearances, and this is sure to be no exception. Tickets for the Fillmore go on sale August 2; Red Rocks is effectively sold-out, but if you can spare $210 to $599, some tickets are still available on the Red Rocks Amphitheatre events calendar.
Big Jay Oakerson
Thursday, August 15, through Saturday, August 17, showtimes vary
Comedy Works Downtown
$20 to $28
The name Big Jay Oakerson creates certain expectations. For a moniker like that to work, you must be either comically small or appropriately large, and positively brimming with scumbag moxie either way. Oakerson measures up in every sense, physically dominating the confined space of a comedy club stage while spellbinding audiences with joke-peppered tales of debasement and debauchery. In addition to appearing on This Is Not Happening, The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Degenerates, Oakerson has written and starred in his own one-hour special, Live at Webster Hall, recorded three standup albums, and currently co-hosts the podcasts The SDR (Sex, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll) Show, The Legion of Skanks and The Bonfire with Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder. A weekend full of fittingly huge laughs awaits when Oakerson rolls through Denver for a headlining engagement at Comedy Works Downtown; buy tickets, $20 to $28, on the Comedy Works box-office page.
Las Culturistas: I Don't Think So, Honey Live Podcast
Wednesday, August 21, 8 p.m.
Comedy Works Downtown
Ding dong! Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers of Las Culturistas will be in Denver for a live recording of I Don't Think So, Honey, their wonderfully bitchy pop-culture complaints department podcast. Of the two hosts, Yang may enjoy a slightly higher profile, thanks to appearances on Jon Glaser Loves Gear, High Maintenance and Broad City, as well as a writing job at Saturday Night Live, but Rogers — an Upright Citizens Brigade veteran and artistic director of Pop Roulette — is a steadfast and diabolically funny presence on the critically acclaimed show. Yang is also celebrated for his dramatic lip-sync videos, and Rogers recently went viral for a satirical takedown of Taylor Swift's foray into performative wokeness and joined the writing staff for the Comedy Central sitcom The Other Two, so there are no finer guides to a verbal evisceration of pop-culture's most irritating tropes. Las Culturistas will be in Denver for a single performance, so don't sleep on your opportunity to participate in a live episode of the most delightful podcast in your feed. For tickets, $20, call 303-595-3637 or visit the Comedy Works box-office page.
Penn & Teller
Friday, August 23, 8 p.m.
$54 to $300
No, it's not an illusion. Comic masters of cartoonishly violent slapstick and sleight-of-hand trickery Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller will materialize live before your very eyes on the Buell Theatre stage. Currently in the midst of the longest reign as headlining entertainers in the history of Las Vegas, they've been honing their two-man magic act since the 1970s, entertaining legions of live audiences and popping up everywhere from The Tonight Show to The Big Bang Theory. In addition to their Vegas commitments, Penn and Teller have also served as co-hosts of the reality competition program Penn & Teller: Fool Us, where they challenge an upcoming generation of illusionists to create a trick that the expert duo cannot explain. Get enchanted when the loquacious Penn and the silent Teller bring their physics-defying show to Denver; get tickets, $54 to $300, and more information on the Buell Theatre box-office page.
Friday, August 23, through Sunday, August 25, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
$35 to $50
Attention. comedy nerds and stoner cinema enthusiasts: Comedian and character actor Mike Epps is returning to the Queen City to light up the Denver Improv stage. A versatile performer who got his start in the talent crucible of Def Comedy Jam, Epps never strayed far from the stage, despite a thriving on-screen career that includes the enduringly popular Friday, Hangover, How High and Resident Evil franchises; appearances in films like Fifty Shades of Black, Next Day Air and The Last Black Man in San Francisco; and starring roles in television's Uncle Buck and Survivor's Remorse. Epps has also released five one-hour standup specials, most recently 2010's Only One Mike; after making the world funnier for years, he'll now do the same for your weekend. Tickets are $35 to $50 on the Denver Improv box-office page.
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The Jimmy Dore Show Live
Saturday, August 24, 8 p.m.
$25 to $35
In a political era when each day's news offers up a fresh serving of national shame, the comedy of Jimmy Dore can provide a soothing balm. During his primary career as a standup, Dore made the late-night rounds through television standbys such as Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Comedy Central Presents and The Late Late Show before discovering his second calling as a pundit on The Young Turks, a left-leaning political commentary program popular on YouTube. Known for his unapologetically skeptical criticism of the Washington establishment (and unfortunate penchant for conspiracy theories), Dore was a reliably funny and fascinating presence on the show despite drawing constant torrents of ire from the mainstream media. In April, he announced his retirement from the gig he'd held for ten years in order to hit the road and renew his focus on comedy, an endeavor that carries him along to Denver for a one-night-only appearance. Get tickets and more details on the Oriental Theater box-office page.
Katya: The Help Me, I'm Dying Comedy Tour
Friday, August 30, 8 p.m.
$25 to $150
Sashay this way for an unforgettable evening with the "sweatiest woman in show business" when Katya Zamolodchikova's Help Me, I'm Dying comedy tour sounds the alarm of laughter at the Paramount Theatre. Fondly remembered as one of the funniest contestants — and "Miss Congeniality" award-winner— in the star-studded herstory of Ru Paul's Drag Race, Katya performs live comedy shows all over the world and serves up plenty of sass as the co-host of Viceland's The Trixie and Katya Show. Almost eighty shows deep into her North American tour, Katya is in fine, road-tested form as she prepares to conquer the Queen City and snatch every possible giggle out of your gullets. Available seats have nearly sold out, so click over to the Paramount Theatre's Altitude Tickets page to get yours.