Boulder Comedian John Novosad Skewers the News | Westword
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Boulder's Own John Novosad Satirically Skewers the News in Today's Topics

Today's Topics is a variety show for modern audiences that combines standup, sketch comedy, multimedia and music.
John Novosad
John Novosad Courtesy of Nick Holmby with Dude, IDK Creative
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If you're sick of screaming pundits and headlines that read like parodies, John Novosad offers a comedic twist on the world of current events with his latest show, Today's Topics With John Novosad at the Dairy Arts Center.

Having spent years on stage as Hippieman, Novosad now offers a comedic cocktail of jokes ripped straight from news about global warming, the national debt and religious freedom. Following the release of his standup special, Jokes I Can Only Tell Here, in 2022, he began planning his next venture.

"I was happy with that album, but I want to start putting together a new 45-minute-to-an-hour set, and Today's Topics sort of happened organically," Novosad says. "I started to make some jokes about global warming, religion and other political stuff, then put them under the banner of Today's Topics. ... Glenn Webb from the Dairy Center approached me and asked if I wanted to do a show. So I pitched Today's Topics because it's different from standup, and I thought it would be fun to put together his show at the Dairy Center while I was working on my next set."
click to enlarge
"Today's Topics sort of happened organically," John Novosad says. "I started to make some jokes about global warming, religion and other political stuff, then put them under the banner of Today's Topics."
Courtesy of Crystal Allen
For the Boulder native, comedy has been a lifelong journey of turning lemons into lemonade — in his case, transforming personal tragedy into bursts of laughter.

"My father passed away when I was young, like six years old, so my mother pretty much raised me in a single-family home," he shares. "My mom was great; she gave me a lot of leeway. I was not the class clown, but I would joke and cut up around home and with people I felt comfortable with. After my father died, it was a sad time. I always wanted to make my sister and brother laugh. My goal at dinner was to make my sister laugh so hard that she spit milk out of her nose. My mom gave me that wide latitude to develop a lot of comedic skills as a young kid, just trying to make my family laugh."

Novosad has honed his craft over the past thirty years, culminating in a show that tackles everything from Boulder's sugar tax to plastic bag bans, all with a comedic flair. "It’s like The Carol Burnett Show, and I’m Carol Burnett," he says with a chuckle. "I use an overhead projector, PowerPoint and a pointer to establish some of the topics I am going to discuss and set up the sketches. I've got a bit where I'm going to show how to wipe out the national debt through syntax with the overhead projector."

Today's Topics blends standup, sketch comedy, multimedia aspects and music. Novosad describes it as a variety show for the modern era.

"I’m going to have two or three sketches with cast members Gabby [Gutierrez-Reed] and Zoe [Rogers], and a couple of other things," Novosad says. "For example, one of the multimedia things that I do is called Bad Clip Art. Years ago, I bought a CD-ROM at someplace like Office Depot with 50,000 images of clip art, so I pulled out some of the weirder ones and just made jokes about them. I booked a musician friend of mine, Dave Hylas, and he's going to play."
click to enlarge man with long grey hair talks into microphone
Novosad has performed for more than thirty years.
Courtesy of Nick Holmby with Dude, IDK Creative

This isn't just another standup gig for Novosad; it's a platform where he feels any topic is fair game for humor. "I've been doing this for a long time, and my thing has always been that I don't have a message," he says. "I want people to walk out of the club and go, ‘That hippie guy is funny,’ but I've changed somewhat over the years; I feel like any topic is up for grabs. That said, there are some things I will not do, but if another comic does it, I will defend their right to do it even if it is controversial. I believe that comedians have a role to play in pointing out the absurd. For example, I understand the plastic bag issue, but my point is that even if I were the best recycler in the world, one plant could cause more harm than I could. I make a joke about the sugar tax in Boulder, where I admit obesity is a problem but question whether we really need to draw the line on sodas."

As for the future, this stint at the Dairy Arts Center may just be the beginning. Novosad has his eyes on a larger prize for himself and his players.

"The Dairy was nice enough to give me two different dates, some in January and some in March, so after the first shows, I’m going to take a look at stuff," Novosad says. "I would like to keep the core members if they are available, and I may add another standup. I have a friend who is a good videographer, so I am going to try to tape the show for social media, but also to make a sizzle reel to pitch to people. If I get some heat in this industry, one of the things I would pitch is a variety show. It's probably difficult to do right now while remaining cost-effective for the networks, but I like the idea."

No matter what happens, in Novosad's world, the biggest breaking news is the next punchline.

Today's Topics, Friday, January 19, and Saturday, January 20, Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder. Tickets are available at thedairy.org.
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