In an era when reality gets more outlandishly terrible with each passing year, saying farewell to the preceding twelve months can be a deeply satisfying ritual. Yet as you raise your cup of kindness to the new year, the laughs that carried us through 2019 should — like old acquaintances — not be forgot. Those memories ought to be cherished every bit as much as future experiences. And as far as future experiences go, the days ahead are replete with comedic opportunity. Keep reading for ten great ways to ignite 2020 with plenty of funny.
Too Much Fun! With the Fine Gentleman's Club
Wednesday, January 1, 8 p.m.
Cue up Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" and prepare to huff some paint: Too Much Fun! is back from the dead and hungry for guts. Once a weekly fixture of the local laugh-scape, the show that Nathan Lund, Sam Tallent, Chris Charpentier and Bobby Crane co-created as fledgling comedians eventually welcomed headliners like Ali Wong and Dave Chappelle to the cozy stage of the long-shuttered Deer Pile performance space before they disbanded three years ago. Reuniting under the Fine Gentleman's Club mantle for a special, one-night-only edition of Too Much Fun! at the comedian-owned Rock Steady, Crane, Lund, Tallent and Charpentier are ringing in 2020 with a generous serving of the gleefully anarchic comedy Denver has been missing. Including performances from the unofficial fifth gent, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, along with a surprise lineup of nostalgic favorites, the evening offers a surplus of fun — as promised — to carry you into the new year. Find tickets, $10 pre-sale and $15 at the door, and further details on Rock Steady's Eventbrite page.
Thursday, January 2, 7 and 10 p.m.
Belly Up Aspen
$75 to $205
Though he specializes in snarky commentary and portraying characters who put the "ugh" in "smug," David Spade contains multitudes beyond his on-screen persona. A Saturday Night Live alum who starred in a string of hit movies and sitcoms like Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, Joe Dirt and Just Shoot Me — along with the "so bonkers you simply must see it yourself" cult classic 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag — Spade assumes his smarmy archetype so definitively it can eclipse the undersung triumphs of his standup. Leavening his sharp pop-cultural mockery with vulnerable self-deprecating asides, Spade's signature wit endures in his comedy specials. From his debut on HBO's One Night Stand to his latest hour, My Fake Problems, the jokes land well beyond the relevant expiry dates of some of his references. Currently broadcast into cable-subscribing living rooms on a near-nightly basis as the host of Comedy Central's Lights Out With David Spade, Spade is in the midst of a joke-focused renaissance as he heads toward the Rockies for a pair of performances at the intimate Belly Up Aspen. Visit the venue's events calendar to buy tickets, $75 to $205, and find out more.
Lucha Libre & Laughs: That's Show Biz, Baby!
Friday, January 3, 8 p.m.
$5 to $100
Rabid fans won't have to wait too long before Denver comedy presents the first opportunity to slake their collective bloodthirst in 2020: Lucha Libre & Laughs is making an uncharacteristically early return to the Oriental Theater this month with "That's Show Biz, Baby!" — a gut-busting and opponent-pummeling evening of entertainment from the show Westword loves to love. Check out the Oriental Theater events calendar for tickets, $5 to $100, and more information.
The Gateway Show
Friday, January 3, 9:30 p.m.
Loonees Comedy Corner
Saturday, January 4, 8 p.m.
International Church of Cannabis
$10 to $25
Though it was originally founded in Seattle by comic and cannabis aficionado Billy Anderson, the Gateway Show fits into the Colorado comedy scene like an impeccably rolled doobie. Presenting a "before" and "after" comparison of how standups perform with a generous indulgence in the Devil's lettuce, the show is a celebration of forgotten punchlines and stoned giggle fits. After settling into a Rocky Mountain high at Colorado Springs' Loonees Comedy Corner on Friday, January 3, Anderson and his merry marijuana cohort returns to Denver's International Church of Cannabis on Saturday, January 4. Head over to Eventbrite to buy tickets, $10 to $30, and learn more.
Wednesday, January 8, 7:30 p.m.
January 9 to 11, showtimes vary
Comedy Works Downtown
$18 to $26
Simply the Beth (and better than all the reth), Beth Stelling has been politely but unequivocally dominating comedy for the past few years. A veteran of Chicago's venerated standup, improv and theater communities, Stelling followed her aforementioned album by turning in stellar performances on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Netflix's The Standups, while writing for shows like Crashing, Another Period and I Love You America With Sarah Silverman. Kicking off a weekend-long headlining engagement at Comedy Works Downtown with a Fort Comedy-sponsored Wednesday night show at the Aggie Theatre, Stelling graces the Front Range with a sextet of top-notch performances. Fort Collins readers can find tickets, $20, and more information on the Aggie Theatre box-office page. Meanwhile, Denver-based readers should head over to the Comedy Works events calendar to find seats, $18 to $26, and learn more.
Aspen Laugh Festival Presents Fortune Feimster
Saturday, January 20, 7:30 p.m.
Wheeler Opera House
Another highlight of The Stand Ups series, Fortune Feimster is an accomplished comedy veteran just starting to get her due. Trained in the esteemed funny factory of the Groundlings Theatre, Feimster parlayed the strength of her star-making debut on Last Comic Standing with a roundtable co-hosting gig on Chelsea Lately, followed by a string of late-night performances and character roles on The Mindy Project and The L Word: Generation Q. In addition to hosting her weekly podcast Sincerely Fortune, Feimster has also joined forces with Tom Papa (read more about him below) for the Netflix and Sirius XM-sponsored What a Joke With Papa and Fortune. Whether you're merely taking in some après-ski comedy or making an I-70 pilgrimage, Fortune indeed smiles upon Colorado. Admission is free for Wheeler Opera House members and $35 for the general public. Visit the Aspen Laugh Festival box-office page to buy tickets and learn more.
Science Riot: Science Meets Comedy
Sunday, January 12, 7 p.m.
The Clocktower Cabaret
Nerd is the word at Science Riot, an experimental hybrid of education and entertainment. Enlisting accredited scientists to step out of the lab and up to the mic for a show that applies methodical rigor to the mysteries of humor, Science Riot is a great way to get learnt and get turnt. Part of a nationwide phenomenon with outposts in cities from Boston to Birmingham, the show puts a funny face on academic inquiry. Buy tickets, $17, on the Clocktower Cabaret box-office page and click over to scienceriot.org to find out more.
Sunday, January 19, 7 p.m.
Vilar Performing Arts Center
The aforementioned Fortune Feimster's podcast co-host Tom Papa is also alighting to the mountains this January, bringing his brand of besuited and bread-loving comedy to the Vail Valley later on in the month. Erstwhile host of NBC's The Marriage Ref, occasional guest host of NPR's Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and regular contributor to the same network's A Prairie Home Companion antecedent Live From Here, Papa has maintained a quiet but steadfast audio and televisual presence in his fans' lives. Author of Your Dad Stole My Rake: And Other Family Dilemmas and star of classic standup specials like Freaked Out and Human Mule, Papa is sure to warm your cockles in spite of the wintry climes. Come to Papa: Go to the Vilar Performing Arts Center events page to get tickets, $48, and more information.
January 23 to 25, showtimes vary
Comedy Works Downtown
$25 to $30
Podcaster, standup and psychonaut Duncan Trussell is back in Denver and ready to melt your mind. Host of the smash-hit podcast The Duncan Trussell Family Hour (which reportedly boasts over 25 million independent downloads), Trussell merrily burrows into theoretical rabbit holes along with an eclectic range of guests on his show, and all by his lonesome on stage in his standup act. Over the years, Trussell has also appeared on Drunk History, Joe Rogan Questions Everything, and This Is Not Happening, as well as lending his inimitable voice to the cultishly adored animated mishaps of Adventure Time. Drop out and tune in to Trussell's one-of-a-kind wavelength over a series of performances at Denver's most esteemed comedy club. Find tickets, $25 to $30, and further information on the Comedy Works box-office page.
January 24 to 25, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
$34 to $65
D.L. Hughley is here to raise your hackles. A founding member of the Original Kings of Comedy quartet, Hughley has branched out from standup into acting (Soul Plane, Scary Movie 3, Inspector Gadget), game show host and contestant (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Dancing With the Stars, Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host) and political punditry, including an unfortunately short-lived tenure at the helm of CNN's D. L. Hughley Breaks the News. Hughley's never strayed far from the mic, however, and he's back in Denver with a brand-new hour of jokes hot off the heels of his most recent special, the aptly titled Contrarian. Watch Hughley lay waste to the Denver Improv stage while marveling at his unparalleled ability to smooth over objections with the balm of belly laughter; head over to the Denver Improv box-office page to buy tickets, $34 to $65, and learn more.
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