When Chuck Roy first began working on his new comedy night, Altered Schtick, he had inclusion in mind. Seeing several up-and-coming comics -- Mona Lott, Jordan Wieleba and Penny from Heaven -- around town, working on their material while also trying to find a place in the Denver scene, Roy saw a need for a show space that would allow them to cultivate their careers.
Along with Roy, these three comedians will be appearing at Friday night's inaugural edition of Altered Schtick, a evening that welcomes the queer and transgender community with open arms to The Bar.
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"It's Denver in 2013 and I think people here get it," says Roy of the city's willingness to embrace a night like Altered Schtick. "I think people will be surprised to find out how much fear and terror there is in the transgender community -- and that naturally leads to art and artists. When you have people who are terrified, you get comedians."
Roy says the night was conceived after conversations with comedian Penny from Heaven. "Penny and I started getting coffee once a week -- she was a brand-new comic and I recognized her efforts and I said, we should get together. She wanted to do a coming-out day show, which eventually landed at The Bar, and they've invited us back ever since. We've now grown to three different shows there. I'm thrilled with it -- they are a very nice venue."
An East Coast native, Roy picked Colorado as a place to live and work, a place where he could foster his own creativity as a comedian who happens to be gay, and he says he wanted to provide that same kind of environment for others. "I live in Denver because I wanted to develop comedy and I felt that I could do it here without fear," he explains. "I knew what the problems were when talking about being a bear, but I also knew Denver was way ahead of everyone else. Within ten years, it's going to be a joke that we even had to bring up the fact that we had a show like this and it was unique."
Still, Roy is aware that there's a lot of work for the GLBTQ community and its allies to do when it comes to equality at the mike. "I've got a feeling we're not the only transgendered comedy show and I definitely don't want to overlook anyone else. But I certainly know it's a limited market -- even I'm learning how to get this message across," he says. "My business partner, Brent the Great, was talking about seeing Penny From Heaven kill it at Comedy Works' new talent night recently, but he was around for the snickers.
"Everyone takes me as some sort of 'passible gay guy,'" says Roy. "I'm also conservative, so some of the bigots around town think, oh, he's just like me as far as other policies go. But I have a zero-tolerance policy."
Altered Schtick goes down this Friday, March 29, at 8 p.m. at The Bar; tickets are $7 at the door. For more information, visit Roy's website. Roy also recommends checking out the Euge! podcast, for in-depth interviews with each of the comedians featured at Altered Schtick.
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