Arts and Culture

The Ten Best Comedy Shows in Denver in September

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
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.
$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.
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Byron Graham is a writer, comedian and gentleman thief from Denver. Co-host of Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, the deathless Lion's Lair open mic and the Mutiny Book Club podcast, Byron also writes about comedy for Westword. He cannot abide cowardice, and he's never been defeated in an open duel.
Contact: Byron Graham