November is upon us, and a bountiful joke harvest awaits. In addition to fine showings from our city's theaters, which have imported the finest and funniest from across the country, Denver's locally sourced talents are flourishing this month as well. The following list contains so many heavy hitters, comedy fans are sure to find themselves making difficult decisions about which performances to catch. Luckily for our giggle-gobbling readers, the laughs continue all month long.
Power Move: Comedy in Action
Thursday, November 2, 8 p.m. Image Brew
Among the city's most unconventional comedy venues, shows at Image Brew studios thrive because of a collaborative spirit of goodwill. That tradition, first started by Denver expat Mara Wiles's Funnyside Sessions showcase, continues at Power Move: Comedy in Action. Co-created by Denver comics Nathan Lund and Aaron Urist, Power Move is a monthly showcase that combines standup with sketch comedy and puts the "fun" into fundraiser. Each month, Lund and Urist solicit a suggested $5 donation to benefit a different worthy cause. The lineup on Thursday features Denver comedy mainstays Zac Maas, Jodee Champion, Jill Tasei, Adrian Mesa, Nancy Norton and Brent Gill on stage. Ratio Beerworks and Stem Ciders will be on tap. Proceeds from sales and donations will benefit the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, whose work is more vital than ever in the current nightmare of a political climate. Visit Power Move's Facebook events page to learn more.
Friday, November 3, 9:30 p.m. Paramount Theatre
Sebastian Maniscalco is one of the most focused standup comics in the game right now. He's appeared on every staple of late-night talk show, including Conan, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and The Tonight Show in both its Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon-hosted incarnations. His three latest comedy specials aired on Showtime, with the most recent, Why Would You Do That?, premiering last year. A comic's comic who enjoys the respect of his peers, Maniscalco has also appeared alongside Jerry Seinfeld in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and was recently named Just for Laughs' Standup Comedian of the Year. Showtimes are at 7 and 9:30 p.m., and admission is $39.75-$59.75 at Altitude Tickets.
The Phone It In Film Festival
Saturday, November 11, 7 p.m. LFX Filmworks and Events Space
Spearheaded by hardworking Denver standup Zac Maas, the Phone It In Film Festival challenges local filmmakers, comedians, actors and other creatives to put logistical and financial hurdles aside and make films with the device nearest at hand — one that's handily equipped with an HD camera. Adapted from Philadelphia's Good Good Comedy collective (whose roster of showcases also includes the enduringly popular Weeding Out the Stoned), Denver's version of the Phone It In Film Festival has benefited from an Imagine 2020 grant. The rules are simple: Submissions must be no longer than three minutes, films must be shot on smartphones without the aid of special lenses, and they can't be literal pornography. Beyond that, the only limits are contestants' imaginations and the capabilities of their editing software. Participants can send a link to their films to Phone It In Comedy on its submission page by November 9, or merely show up to watch and judge at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 11. Donations of $5 are suggested at the door. Last year's inaugural festival showcased over twenty different short films screening for a packed house, and this year's soiree promises to be bigger and better — and will boast 100 percent more robots.
Lonnie Valdez returns to the ring to defend his belt at Lucha Libre & Laughs.
Lucha Libre & Laughs: Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die
Saturday, November 11, 8 p.m. The Oriental Theater
Rarely a month goes by without a Lucha Libre & Laughs showcase to recommend, and November is no exception. Join host Bobby Valentino (Greg Baumhauer), bumbling referee Nick Gossert, Antebellum ringside manager Alabaster Cain (Deacon Gray) and guest color commentators Ian Douglas Terry and Mitch Jones for an evening of jokes that hit almost as hard as the wrestlers. There will be ringside thrills aplenty supplied by Anaya, Filter, Danger Dean, Xander Kreed, Cody Devine and more, all of whom will face off before Allie Gato defends her Women's Title against the Pumpkin Queen, Sage Sin. The title bout is a triple-threat match between Matt Cross, Mike Sydal and current champion Lonnie Valdez. With comics Brian Edmond (Atlanta), Kacy Dahl and headliner Mike Stanley on hand to sling jokes, it's safe to say that Sexpot Comedy's Lucha Libre & Laughs is back off the ropes with another fearsome night of entertainment unlike anything else in Denver. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I will also be telling jokes between matches). Tickets are $10 on the Oriental Theater's box office page.
Demetri Martin: Let's Get Awkward
Saturday, November 11, 8 p.m. Paramount Theatre
Standup comedian, writer and actor Demetri Martin first caught the national eye in his “Trendspotting” segments, which aired during the heyday of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, but he quickly evolved beyond his role as correspondent, blossoming in other fields. A veteran of the New York standup circuit, Martin demonstrated his unique sensibility and facility with droll one-liners early on in his career before going on to host Important Things With Demetri Martin for a couple of seasons on Comedy Central and star in Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock. He’s also written two best-selling books, This Is a Book, and Point Your Face at This, and he just published a third, If It's Not Funny, It's Art, in September. Martin made his directorial debut last year with Dean, which was awarded Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. Throughout it all, his absurdist tone and geometrically precise comedic timing have remained engaging, unpredictable and, most important, funny. Tickets are $37.50 at Altitude Tickets.
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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.