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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John Mulaney: The Kid Gorgeous Tour
Saturday, November 11, 10 p.m.
After a storied tenure on the writing staff for Saturday Night Live, where he co-created fan-favorite character Stefon with Bill Hader, John Mulaney achieved the pinnacle of comedy stardom with his own eponymous sitcom. Though Mulaney received an indifferent response from critics and was swiftly canceled after its abbreviated first season, its creator and star bounced back with an instant-classic standup special, fittingly called The Comeback Kid. He's also recently appeared on the Jim Gaffigan Show and Difficult People, and he portrayed the character George St. Geegland on Comedy Bang Bang and Netflix's Oh, Hello on Broadway. Back with a new hour of jokes on the Kid Gorgeous tour, the frequently besuited Mulaney remains one of the sharpest joke writers of his generation, so don't miss out, especially not when he's just added a second show at the Buell Theatre on November 11 after the first performance sold out. Tickets are $29.50 to $39.50 at AXS.
3 Kings Comedy Show with Emily Heller
Friday, November 17, 7 p.m.
3 Kings Tavern
David Rodriguez and Nathan Lund are two of the most affable mirth merchants on the Denver comedy scene, so it's fitting that they've joined forces for a new standup showcase at 3 Kings Tavern. The two are already off to a good start with standup wunderkind Emily Heller scheduled to headline their inaugural giggle gauntlet. Heller, a multi-talented writer, actor and comedian, has performed on @Midnight, Conan and Late Night With Seth Meyers. She was also a series regular on the defunct TBS sitcom Ground Floor, and she's appeared on shows like Maron and BoJack Horseman. Her podcast Baby Geniuses is required listening for comedy nerds. With openers Ben Bryant and Cody Spyker, the whole evening is a testament to what Denver comics can accomplish together. Tickets are $10; go to the 3 Kings events calendar for yours.
The Peer Revue Part Deux
Friday, November 17, 7:30 p.m.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
While experience, journalistic ethics and basic human decency would normally preclude us from recommending that anyone go see someone perform standup comedy for the first time, Science Riot's Peer Revue Part Deux is a notable exception. Rather than the unwashed reprobates who typically haunt this city's open mics, the Peer Revue performers are upstanding members of the scientific community, representing a variety of STEM fields. Watch these braniacs embark on a crash course through the joke life, yielding hilarious and unpredictable results. Visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science events page to find out more.
Standup Comedy Tribute to Jordan Wieleba
Friday, November 17, 8:30 p.m.
Jordan Wieleba, a brilliant artist, transgender activist, musician and comedian, passed away last year, and the Denver comedy community hasn't even begun to recover, myself included. While her fellow members of the Pussy Bros. standup supergroup — Rachel Weeks, Janae Burris and Christie Buchele — continue to honor their departed sister by working almost as hard she did (which the Bros. will recognize is no slight to them, merely a testament to Wieleba's tireless dedication to comedy and activism), they haven't attempted a memorial show of this scale until now. They've teamed up with Out Boulder County for a comedy tribute showcasing Weeks, Burris, Buchele and headliner Jaye McBride. In addition to sets from all of the aforementioned performers, they'll also play selected bits from Wieleba's album Estrogentrification. Celebrate Trans Awareness Week with a laugh and pay tribute to Jordan Wieleba's memory in the most fitting way possible. Visit the Dairy Center's box office page to buy tickets, $12, and learn more.
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John Cleese and the Holy Grail
Saturday, November 18, 7 p.m.
One shudders to think how dull the history of comedy would be without the inspired silliness of John Cleese, whose formative work with his Monty Python cohorts endures in some of the most brilliant sketches of all time. His time with Python alone would earn Cleese a cushy place in the pantheon of comedic greats, but he followed Flying Circus, The Meaning of Life and The Life of Brian with a number of iconic roles. The farcical Fawlty Towers is as fiendishly hilarious today as it was when it premiered in 1975, and if you know someone who doesn't like A Fish Called Wanda, cut them out of your life. Denver comedy nerds can rejoice, for Cleese is making a rare appearance in the Mile High City for a live question-and-answer session rife with humorous anecdotes from his storied career. In addition to a discussion with Cleese, fans can also enjoy a full screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, perhaps the troupe's most beloved — certainly the most quoted — collaboration. Tickets are $69.00 to $89.00 at the Bellco box office page, with a limited number of VIP tickets (which include of photo opportunity with Cleese) available for $250. Now, go away before I taunt you a second time.
Looking for more to do? Visit Westword's calendar online.