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Maria Bamford headlines the seventh annual High Plains Comedy Festival.
Maria Bamford headlines the seventh annual High Plains Comedy Festival.
Emily Berl, courtesy of High Plains Comedy Festival

The Ten Best Comedy Shows in Denver in September

Stoners, alt-comedy aficionados, and lucha libre fans, rejoice: The next thirty days are packed with comedy shows guaranteed to please every palate. From drag queens and doofuses to the triumphant return of the High Plains Comedy Festival, September's ten best comedy shows will keep you laughing all month long. 

Nate Bargatze: Good Problem to Have Tour
Saturday, September 7, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Paramount Theatre
$35 to $96

Clean comedy doesn't have to suck. Nate Bargatze — along with fellow anti-vulgarians like Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan — has spent nearly his entire career proving that standups can omit the swears from their material without becoming wholly toothless. Gracefully aging into the comedic persona of an affably clueless dad, Bargatze hit a career high point following the release of his latest one-hour special, The Tennessee Kid, and he currently has a network series in development. Already capable of selling out clubs and theaters based on the strength of his appearances on Conan, Comedy Central Presents and Netflix's The Standups, Bargatze's jokes about his literally clownish father and extended family wedding fights are tailor-made for sitcom hijinks. Local comedy nerds have a chance to see Bargatze's best when the Good Problem to Have tour rolls through Denver's Paramount Theatre. Admission is $35 to $96 via Altitude Tickets. Check out Bargatze's tour calendar for further details.

Caitlin Gill Album Release: Major
Thursday, September 12, 8 p.m.
hi-dive
$12 to $22

Readers may have to wait until September's final weekend for the High Plains Comedy Festival proper, but the month ahead offers a handful of shows guaranteed to whet your appetite for the upcoming seventh edition. The buildup to this year's festivities happily coincides with the release of Major, the debut album from High Plains alumnus and comedic firebrand Caitlin Gill, who'll be celebrating her crowning achievement with a performance and release party at the hi-dive. Though she's found steady work as a writer for Bobcat Goldthwait's Misfits & Monsters, Hidden America With Jonah Ray and Take My Wife, Gill is at her most transcendent on stage, punching out one belly laugh after another during animated sets fueled by righteous indignation. Catch a glimpse of what Major has to offer when Gill lays waste to the stage at this official High Plains Comedy Festival preview. Buy tickets, $12 to $22, and learn more at hi-dive.

Michael Blackson
September 13 to 14, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
Denver Improv
$39 to $39

Don't let the stage name mislead you: The comedy of Michael Blackson is entirely unrelated to the troubling shadow of the scandal-plagued King of Pop. Born with the name Jafari Ferguson, the Ghanaian comedian and actor developed a stateside following based on the strength of his earth-scorching appearances on Snaps, BET's Comicview and The Arsenio Hall Show. He's gone on to steal scenes in movies like Next Friday, Meet the Blacks, Nobody's Fool, and the upcoming sequel to Eddie Murphy's classic Coming to America, all while maintaining a rigorous touring schedule. A perennial favorite for the Denver Improv's bookers and audiences alike, Blackson is returning to the Mile High for another hilarity-filled mid-September weekend. Find tickets, $39 and up, and more information at Denver Improv.

RuPaul's Drag Race: Werq the World Tour
Saturday, September 14, 8 p.m.
Ellie Caulkins Opera House
$52 to $62

Say "shantay" to sass and sashays when RuPaul's Drag Race: Werq the World tour plants its high-heeled foot square in the heart of the Queen City of the Plains. Boasting a cast of fan favorites like Violet Chachki, Vanessa "Vanjie" Mateo, Plastique Tiara and Denver's own Yvie Oddly — winner of the show's contentious eleventh season — Werq the World serves up heaping helpings of walks, jokes and lewks. If you're looking for a live edition of the reality-TV staple, don't miss out on your opportunity to behold a spectacle of fan service unfolding — but never untucking — on the fittingly grand Ellie Caulkins Opera House stage. Can I get an "Amen" to that? Admission is $52 to $62 via Ticketmaster. Head over to the Werq the World tour calendar to find out more.

Dana Gould
September 19 to 21, showtimes vary
Comedy Works Downtown
$17 to $25

Dana Gould is a comic's comic, a writer's comic, and a stalwart comedy nerd's comic. A staff writer, co-executive producer and voice-over actor during one of the many golden eras of The Simpsons, Gould has been a fixture of the funny business for decades. After recently leveling up to the title of creator and showrunner for Stan vs. Evil, Gould is currently hard at work on even more gifts to geekdom, including a televised adaptation of the cultishly adored comic-book series The October Faction and a graphic novel based on Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling's original, un-produced screenplay for Planet of the Apes. Every bit as prolific on the mic as he is behind the scenes, Gould has also recorded six one-hour standup specials, including the classic Let Me Put My Thoughts in You; made the late-night TV rounds; and steadfastly hosted The Dana Gould Hour podcast. Settle in for a master class in comedic excellence when Gould returns to Denver for a headlining engagement at the city's best-known club. Visit the Comedy Works box-office page to buy tickets, $17 to $25, and learn more.

Jackie Kashian
September 19 to 22, showtimes vary
Comedy Works South
$18 to $26

The duchess of dorkdom, Jackie Kashian has enjoyed a long reign among the royal family of both comedy nerds and nerd nerds. Cohost of The Dork Forest and The Jackie and Laurie Show podcasts, Kashian has appeared on Conan, The Comedy Central Half Hour, and the unfortunately short-lived Lady Dynamite. While she'll be appearing on the forthcoming High Plains Comedy Festival, Kashian's headlining engagement at Comedy Works South offers fans the opportunity to bask in the unabridged splendor of her latest full hour. Check out the Comedy Works box-office page to get tickets, $18 to $26, and discover further details.

High Plains Comedy Festival founder Adam Cayton-Holland holding court during last year's edition.
High Plains Comedy Festival founder Adam Cayton-Holland holding court during last year's edition.
Andrew Bray

High Plains Comedy Festival
September 26 to 28, showtimes vary
Multiple venues
$15 to $45

For Denver comedy die-hards, the last weekend of August ended on an unusually mirthless note. For six years, comedians and crowds alike counted upon the tradition of laughing their way into autumn at the High Plains Comedy Festival. Fret not, anxious giggle-hounds: After a month-long delay, the festival is returning for a seventh year with one of its finest lineups yet. While Maria Bamford's headlining set at Paramount Theatre —featuring Aparna Nancherla and the aforementioned Jackie Kashian — is deservedly the marquee attraction of this year's festivities, the heart of High Plains lies in the Baker district, at venues like the hi-dive, 3 Kings Tavern and Mutiny Information Cafe. Festival founder Adam Cayton-Holland and executive producer Karen Wachtel have enlisted an impeccable roster of national crushers like Kyle Kinane, Moshe Kasher, Natasha Leggero, Baron Vaughn, Shane Torres, Amy Miller and David Gborie to share the stage with local favorites like Ben Roy, Andrew Orvedahl, Sam Tallent and Janae Burris, to name but a few of this year's participating comics. Sponsored by Illegal Pete's, Big Top Studios, Pabst Blue Ribbon, New Belgium, Sexy Pizza and Comedy Works Entertainment, the festival has already sold out its share of all-access passes. For individual show tickets and schedule updates, head over to the High Plains Comedy Festival ticketing page. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I'll be returning to the festival as a performer this year.)

Mural by Okuda San Miguel at the International Church of Cannabis.
Mural by Okuda San Miguel at the International Church of Cannabis.
Lindsey Bartlett

The Gateway Show
Friday, September 27 and
Saturday, September 28, 8 and 9:30 p.m.
Loonees Comedy Corner
International Church of Cannabis
$10 to $25

Founded by comedian Billy Anderson in the similarly pro-cannabis city of Seattle, the Gateway Show seems tailor-made for the Mile High comedy scene. A live case study for how marijuana consumption affects the comedic imagination, Gateway presents a bifurcated format showcasing different sets from the same comedians, both before and after a generous indulgence in ganja. Rolling through the Centennial State for a pair of shows, the Gateway Show opens up at 9:30 p.m. at Loonees Comedy Corner in Colorado Springs on Friday, September 27, and closes down in Denver at 8 p.m. at the International Church of Cannabis on Saturday, September 28. Tickets for the Friday and Saturday shows are $10 to $25 via Eventbrite. Lineups TBA.

Tom Segura: Take It Down Tour
Saturday, September 28, 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Bellco Theatre
$29.50 to $89.50

Tom Segura spins a yarn like no one else in comedy. Cohost of the Your Mom's House podcast, Segura is a fixture of shows like This Is Not Happening, Last Comic Standing and Workaholics. After releasing a trio of beloved one-hour specials for Netflix, including Disgraceful, Completely Normal and, fittingly enough, Mostly Stories, Segura is on the road again with a fresh hour, bringing the "Take It Down" tour through Denver's Bellco Theatre for a pair of performances on Saturday, September 28. Visit AXS events to buy tickets, $29.50 to $89.50, and learn more.

Royce Isaacs returns to Lucha Libre & Laughs this month.
Royce Isaacs returns to Lucha Libre & Laughs this month.
Geoff Decker

Lucha Libre & Laughs: Box Office Poison
Saturday, September 28, 8 p.m.
The Oriental Theater
$10 to $100

Say farewell to September with a bit of good-natured bloodsport when perennial Westword favorite Lucha Libre & Laughs returns to the Oriental Theater with a decidedly non-fatal dose of Box Office Poison. With Nathan Lund and Sam Tallent on hand to crack wise through a cavalcade of thrilling bouts between returning champions like Royce Isaacs, Caleb Crush, Allie Gato, Anaya and more, the chuckles will chug right along between sets from High Plains Comedy Festival-affiliated comedians. Visit the Oriental Theater box-office page for tickets, $10 to $100, and more information.

Do you have an event you want included in a Westword list? Send the details to editorial@westword.com.

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