While genuine patriotic feeling may be in short supply on the eve of Independence Day, comedy keeps the fireworks going all month long in Denver this July. Whether readers fancy headliner showcases at local clubs and theaters, comedy drinking games or humorous history lessons, there are plenty of options to keep the laughs rolling until August. Keep reading for the ten best comedy shows in the Denver area circa July 2018.
Friday, July 6, 8 p.m.
In a rare example of a pipe dream coming true, Matt Besser is bringing his 420 Comedy Show through the Centennial State, much to the delight of pot-humor enthusiasts. A co-founder of the game-changing Upright Citizens Brigade improv theatre (and a short-lived yet influential Comedy Central show of the same name), Besser and his performance philosophy have permeated the industry to the point that nearly every comedy show on TV has at least one UCB alumnus in its cast. Besser has amassed an impressive on-screen résumé in his own right, stealing scenes on shows like Parks & Recreation and Modern Family and films like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Besser's Rocky Mountain High tour includes a stop at Fort Collins's Lyric Theater on Thursday, July 5; an engagement at Denver's Oriental Theater on Friday, July 6; a visit to the weed-friendly Open Faith Temple in Colorado Springs on Saturday, July 7; and a show at Boulder's Bohemian Biergarten on Sunday, July 8. Visit Matt Besser's tour calendar for more information and the Oriental Theater box-office page to buy tickets to Friday's show, $10 to $100.
Be sure to check out Westword's interview with Besser this week in the Arts section.
Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game
Saturday, July 7, 7 p.m.
The Comedy RoomRoom
Fittingly for a show dedicated to boozy overindulgence, Designated Drunkard forgot its own anniversary and has subsequently never gotten around to celebrating a year of rib-tickling and liver-pickling comedy drinking games. However, since July's show happily coincides with the birthdays of Designated Drunkard's most steadfast fans, co-hosts Caitie Hannan and Westword's own Byron Graham are serving up some of their funniest festivities yet. For unfamiliar readers, the show mines a comedian's foibles and phraseology, creating a bullet-pointed list of prompts for the audience to take a drink along with the titular Designated Drunkard, (usually Graham or Hannan). July's show includes local standups Jo Kimbrell, Matt Cobos and ShaNae Ross along with Matthew Kohr of Minnesota, Charlie Vergos of New York and headliner Sam Tallent, so be sure not to miss the party. Admission is $5 via the Designated Drunkard Nightout page.
Thursday, July 12, 8 p.m.
The Oriental Theater
Memphis-based comedian Mo Alexander is a natural-born crusher who can win nearly any crowd with seeming effortlessness. Having developed his show over decades on the road, Alexander can filter nearly any premise through his singular comedic mind — even a chronicle of his nearly fatal hospitalization on the 2016 album Got Clots — and still manage to bust every gut in the room. On Thursday, July 12, Alexander will be joined by local standups Charlie McMullen, Mo Vida and Anthony Crawford for a cavalcade of chuckles to cap off a week's worth of shows in our state, including a headlining engagement at Loonies in Colorado Springs. Visit the Oriental Theater's box-office page to buy tickets, $10, and get more details, and learn more about Alexander's The Two Things I Love tour on his official website.
Roy Wood Jr.
July 12 to 14, showtimes vary
Comedy Works Downtown
A standout even among the reliably hilarious ranks of Daily Show correspondents, Roy Wood Jr. has dedicated his entire on-stage and on-screen career to finding fresh angles and unexpected takes. A finalist on the 2010 season of Last Comic Standing, Wood first rose to prominence on radio thanks to his facility with the lost art of prank phone calls before going on to appear on shows like Sullivan & Son, Conan and The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and releasing his first one-hour special Father Figure, on Netflix. Recently named the new host of Comedy Central's storytelling show This Is Not Happening, Wood's ascendant career means locals shouldn't miss this opportunity to see him in a comedy-club setting. Showtimes and admission prices vary; visit the Comedy Works box-office page to buy tickets and learn more.
Be sure to check the Arts & Culture section next week for Westword's interview with Roy Wood Jr.
July 13 to 15, showtimes vary
A Denver Improv favorite, DeRay Davis is a South Chicago-hewn comedian, actor and television presenter whose wry smirk and acute timing have charmed audiences on programs like Showtime at the Apollo, Wild N' Out, All Def Comedy and Comics Unleashed. In addition to regularly touring the country as a standup, Davis has taken the expected comedic turns in his career, in movies like Semi-Pro, 21 Jump Street and the Barbershop series, as well as more serious performances in Empire and G.I. Joe Retaliation. The current host of Hip Hop Squares, Davis is returning to Denver for another evening of house-rocking hilarity that fans should not miss. Showtimes vary, visit the Denver Improv's box-office page to buy tickets, $25 to $30, and learn more.
Comedians Power Hour
Monday, July 16, 8 p.m.
Founded in a comedian's living room in Albuquerque, Comedians Power Hour has evolved into a nationwide debauch with regular outposts in Denver and New York City, plus surprise appearances wherever co-host and producer Brett Hiker happens to hang his hat. In partnership with the Boulder Comedy Show, Hiker brings his drunken dick-joke duel to the Bohemian Biergarten with former champions Sam Tallent and Christie Buchele vying for the belt. Go shot for shot and joke for joke with two of Denver's finest and funniest as they proceed through improvised challenges overseen by Hiker and guest bartender Brent Gill. Admission is $20 at the door and $12 via Eventbrite, where readers can also find more details.
July 19 to 21, showtimes vary
Comedy Works South
Even without a giant's six-foot-six frame, Gary Gulman's influence would loom large over subsequent generations of comedians. A former high school teacher who reportedly used to test material on his students, Gulman commits to absurd premises like the imagined documentary he describes in the embedded Conan clip above, and on his hilarious Netflix special It's About Time. A twenty-year veteran of the stage and mic, Gulman has earned the rare distinction of having appeared on every late-night comedy program, recorded five standup albums and two specials for Comedy Central. Showtimes and admission prices vary. Visit the Comedy Works box-office page to learn more and buy tickets.
Mile High Movie Roast: Crocodile Dundee
Friday, July 20, 7:40 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse Littleton
Inexplicably popular at the time of its release and fondly remembered by people who probably haven't seen it in a while, Crocodile Dundee is among the Mile High Movie Roast's most deserving targets. A film that's aged worse than the leathery face of its star, Paul Hogan, the fish-out-of-water tale of an outback wildlife guide run amok in the big city bears all the unfortunate hallmarks of ’80s comedy, including latent racism and an overabundance of gay panic jokes. Fortunately, Harrison Rains and one of his rotating coterie of riffers will be on hand to reinvent the hackery of yesteryear into the mockery of today in a Mystery Science Theater 3000-style giggle gauntlet. Visit the Alamo Drafthouse box-office page to buy tickets, $12.50, and learn more.
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The Dollop Live
Saturday, July 21, 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Gates Concert Hall, Newman Center for the Performing Arts
A history lesson unlike any other, The Dollop is the brainchild of comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reyolds, who mine overlooked incidents of yore for absurd riffs and disbelieving belly laughs. In each of the podcast's episode, history buff Anthony explains an event or personage of historical significance —"The Death of George Washington" is a particular highlight— to the riff-happy Reynolds, who generally has little to no advanced knowledge of the subject. Anthony and Reynolds have also collected some of their favorite discoveries in their book The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories From American History, but their unique repartee is still best captured in the podcast itself. Join Reynolds and Anthony for a live episode recording at the University of Denver's Gates Concert Hall (located in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts) and discover that while the past may not even be past, it is assuredly hilarious. Visit the Newman Center's box-office page to buy tickets, $35, and learn more.
Black Actors Guild Presents Show Ya Teef
Tuesday, July 31, 8 p.m.
Say "yes, and" to the members of the Best of Denver Award-winning improv troupe, the Black Actors Guild, who've revived their monthly short-form showcase "Show Ya Teef" for the intimate stage of the BarFly lounge at the Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake. A gifted group of performers from musical, comedic and theatrical backgrounds, Guild members are experts at connecting with crowds and infusing their extemporaneous riffs on politics, relationships and sociology with good humor and professional panache. Admission is free; visit BarFly's events calendar for more details.
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