Arts and Culture

The Ten Best Comedy Shows in Denver in December

Catch "Conan & Friends: An Evening of Stand-Up and Investment Tips" at the Paramount on Wednesday, December 12.
Catch "Conan & Friends: An Evening of Stand-Up and Investment Tips" at the Paramount on Wednesday, December 12. Courtesy of TBS
The season of giggle-giving is upon us, and the city's comedy offerings are especially generous in the days ahead. Whether you prefer the experimental brilliance of alt-comedy pioneer Maria Bamford, the steady hands of veteran talk-show hosts like Arsenio Hall and Conan O'Brien, or the vampy vaudeville of a Drag Queen Christmas, there are many opportunities to laugh your way into the new year. Our picks for the best comedy events in December represent just a fraction of the comedic gifts this month; keep reading for ten holly jollies, in chronological order.

Maria Bamford
Saturday, December 1, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
The Stanley Hotel

Few standups have charted more unexplored comedic territory than Maria Bamford, an inimitably sui generis pioneer of her chosen medium. After co-starring with Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Zach Galifianakis in generation-defining alt-comedy series The Comedians of Comedy, Bamford continued to cheerfully subvert the comedy special format with her unpredictable joke structure and penchant for unconventional venues, such as her parents' living room in 2012's The Special Special Special!, along with park benches and bowling alleys in 2017's Old Baby. She's also appeared on shows like Arrested Development, Adventure Time, Fresh Off the Boat and the brilliant but tragically short-lived Lady Dynamite. Bamford kicks off a great month of comedy with a pair of headlining shows at the Stanley Hotel Concert Hall in Estes Park; visit the Stanley Live box-office page for tickets, $40, and more information.

Neal Brennan: Here We Go Tour
Saturday, December 1, 7:30 p.m.
The Oriental Theater

Neal Brennan may have started his career as a comedy-club doorman, but these days he's basking in the spotlight. Co-creator of Chapelle's Show and a writer for comedy staples like Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show, Brennan eventually turned to the one field where his behind-the-scenes juice wouldn't matter: standup comedy. He's subsequently released two one-hour specials, including Comedy Central's Women and Black Dudes and the critically-acclaimed 3 Mics, which is available on Netflix. Brennan rolls through Denver with a new hour of fresh material when the Here We Go Tour stops by the Oriental Theater on Saturday, December 1.  To buy tickets, $25, visit the Oriental Theater events calendar.

Henry Cho
Thursday, December 6, through Friday, December 8
Comedy Works South
Dirty jokes and family members don't always mix, which is why the clean comedy of Henry Cho should be a safe bet when your relatives are in town. Cho, who's appeared on The Tonight Show and The Late Late Show, and recorded a one-hour special for Comedy Central called What’s That Clickin Noise?, specializes in the sort of lighthearted observations even a stodgy grandmother will find funny. Enjoy an evening full of laughter free from familial side-eye; head over to the Comedy Works box-office page for the complete schedule (showtimes vary) and tickets, $17 to $27.

Pablo Francisco
Thursday, December 6, through Sunday, December 9, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
Denver Improv
Pablo Francisco's uncannily broad vocal range lends itself to masterful impressions, evocative sound effects and human beatbox antics, and he takes full advantage of it at every show. A MadTV alum who went on to appear on Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Presents and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Francisco has become a Denver Improv favorite, returning to the Mile High roughly once a year to bring the noise and the jokes. Find tickets, $25, and more information on the Denver Improv box-office page.

A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour
Friday, December 7, 7 p.m.
Fillmore Auditorium

Sashay this-a-way for a bell-tingling ball with the fierce and festive stars of RuPaul's Drag Race at "A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour," which happily includes a stop in Denver. Join host Miz Cracker, along with a queenly cavalcade of such fan-favorite former contestants as Latrice Royale, Thorgy Thor, Monét X Change, Aja, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo and Farrah Moan, for a guffaw-filled evening of fabulous lewks and bawdy jokes. Love yourself, even if Santa disapproves; visit the Fillmore Auditorium events calendar for links to buy tickets, $87 to $233, and to learn more.

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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.
Contact: Byron Graham