After slogging their way through another mundane work week, many Coloradans are in desperate need of entertainment to fill the days ahead. However, with the gift-giving season fully under way — happy Hanukkah! — money is tighter now than it is during any other time of year...except tax season. Luckily, Denver's creative community has rallied to provide yet another weekend packed with free and cheap events. Readers can experience tastes of other cultures, see world class performances and learn more about the story of Christmas without dipping into their stocking-stuffer budget.
The Good Stuff
Thursday, December 14, 8 p.m.
The Deer Pile
While standup comedy at the Deer Pile has floundered a bit since seltzer replaced PBR at the concessions table, improv has thrived at the Cap Hill DIY stalwart. The Good Stuff, a monthly variety show spotlighting extemporaneous sketches, occurs on the second Thursday of every month, bringing plenty of "yes, and" spirit to the space. December's showcase highlights the immense talents of female improvisers in the Mile High City with performances from the Crunch Bears duo, a death-prov tournament, and an improvised schmaltzy holiday movie from Halldark Hall of Fame. Presented by Binge Watch Live and the Year of We, the Good Stuff's all-female show is both a necessary corrective to an arts scene too often dominated by men, and a grand evening of entertainment that people of all genders can enjoy. Find more information on the Good Stuff's Facebook events page.
Fire and Ice: Christmas With Ars Nova
December 14-15, 7:30 p.m.
Saint John's Episcopal Church
When most readers think of a Christmastime concert from a choral ensemble, they expect hymns performed with solemn religiosity. The Ars Nova Singers are subverting those expectations with Fire and Ice, a series of Christmas concerts with guest guitarist Nicolò Spera. Though the program does include a number of sing-along carols, the centerpiece of the evening will be a stirring performance of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Romancero Gitano. Inspired by the poems of Federico García Lorca's Poems of the Deep Song, the concerto blends virtuosic string-strumming with soaring harmonic adaptations of Lorca's verse. Visit Ars Nova's Brown Paper Tickets page to buy tickets, $10 to $25, and learn more.
Potluck of the Americas
Friday, December 15, 5 p.m.
Museo de las Americas
A gem of Denver's arts and culture scene, Museo de las Americas' monthly ConnectArte returns on December's third Thursday with Potluck of the Americas, a chance for locals to experience other cultures one bite at a time. Nibble on pupusas, ponche, empanadas, and whatever the potluck guests happen to bring while enjoying a uniquely tasty way to connect to the community. Admission is $10, $5 if you bring a dish. Visit the Museo's Facebook events page to find out more, and call 303-571-4401 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Music and Dance of Bali: featuring Gamelan Tunas Mekar
Friday, December 15, 5:30 p.m.
The traditions of Bali come to life at Dazzle this Friday, as Gamelan Tunas Mekar takes to the stage for an unforgettable glimpse of the Indonesian island's rich musical heritage. Under the guidance of Balinese composer Made Lasmawan, Tunas Mekar introduces local audiences to a deeply sophisticated performing tradition that has endured for centuries. However, even readers who'd struggle to pinpoint Bali on a map will find themselves enchanted by the colorful costumes, gamelan angklung instruments, and nimble dancing on display. The program includes the "Panyembrama" welcome dance, the fan-favorite "Hungry Tiger Dance," a new composition by Pak Made, and more. Visit Dazzle's box office page to buy tickets, $10-$15, and find out more.
Friday, December 15, 7 p.m.
El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom
One of the first theme shows to take up residence in El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom, James Draper's Story Time has a somewhat misleading name. Rather than telling stories (check out We Still Like You or The Narrators for that) Draper's show calls upon every comic on the lineup to either share their best one-liners or generate enough new ones to fill five minutes. Like building a ship in a bottle or composing a haiku, telling a great one-liner joke requires focus, determination and maybe even a little mental illness. Shakespeare may have popularized the axiom "Brevity is the soul of wit," but Story Time pares it down to its very essence. Join Draper along with local comics Patrick Scott, Cory Helie, Caitie Hannan, Kevin Klatman and headliner Derrick Rush for short jokes and long laughs. Visit Story Time's Facebook events page to learn more.
Friday Night Weird: Edward Scissorhands
Friday, December 15, 8:45 p.m.
While most Christmas movies are little more than empty schmaltz-fests designed for the whole family to tolerate, a curious subgenre of films has emerged over the past few years to subvert the faux-festive paradigm. Programming a list of movies that adopt the setting and iconography of the Christmas season while varying wildly in tone, Friday Night Weird's "Christmas/Not-Christmas Movies" series has a whole month of counter-programming in store for cinephiles whose holiday entertainment preferences skew more toward "humbugs" than "holly jollies." The off-kilter screening series continues with Edward Scissorhands, one of the finest filmic efforts from the erstwhile auteur of Halloween, Tim Burton. For more details and links to buy tickets, $6.50 to $12, visit the Dairy Center's box office page.
Cabalidays Art Market
Saturday, December 16, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Though our Scroogiest readers may be glad that the holiday season is nearing its end, artsy shop-portunists should make haste to Cabal Gallery on Friday, December 16, for the final Cabalidays Art Market. Find clothing, art prints, jewelry and various curios sure to delight even the quirkiest customer on your Christmas list. Guests can also take photos with the Krampus, sip gourmet coffee and cocoa from Savory Spice Shop, and indulge in a dizzying array of holiday treats. Proceeds from every sale go directly to the artists, so readers don't even need to feel guilty if they only come home with gifts for themselves. Visit Cabal's Facebook events page to learn more.
Westfax Comedy Show
Saturday, December 16, 8 p.m.
WestFax Brewing Company
Brewery-based comedy shows come and go faster than the seasons, so it's easy for a good one to fly under the radar until it's managed to build a consistent following. Local comedians John Combs, Ken Cornell and John Davis — who conjure up a queasy image with troupe name Bordello Waiting Room — have been producing barn-burning comedy showcases over the past few months, presenting Denver comedy's best and brightest to a loyal crowd for the unbeatable admission price of free. WestFax Brewing Company, which shares a massive parking lot with Lakewood landmark Casa Bonita, has a particularly open and inviting taproom, and it's handily adjacent to the Rocky Mountain Cheesery Food Truck. December's lineup features local mirth merchants Rachel Weeks, Matt Cobos, C.J. Willard, Roger Stafford, Olivia Schyling, Jeremy Pysher and Meghan DePonceau. Find more details on WestFax's Facebook events page.
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Christmas Lessons and Carols
December 16-17, 3 p.m.
Saint John's Cathedral
Despite all the ironic holiday counter-programming listed above, Westword is not immune to the charms of a celebration steeped in tradition. Get into the spirit of the season while going through a tuneful refresher course of the Christmas story at Saint John's Cathedral (not to be confused with Boulder's Saint John's Episcopal Church. Same saint, different buildings). Showcasing carols sung by Saint John's celebrated choir, the early afternoon events are an ideal way to bring families together. Find more details on Saint John's Cathedral's Facebook events page.
Book Social: What Happened
Monday, December 18, 7 p.m.
Regular book club meetings can be a steep commitment for busy Denverites, who often haven't the time to keep up with the readings or the schedule to permit steadfast attendance. Fortunately for the busily bookish, Denver's BookBar presents BookSocial, a low-stakes monthly gathering of readers joining together for drinks and discourse. We have a feeling that Monday's social will require even more wine than usual: Guests are discussing Hillary Clinton's memoir of the traumatic 2016 presidential election, What Happened. Admission is free, and participants can enjoy a complimentary drink. Visit BookBar's events calendar to learn more.
Looking for more to do? Visit Westword's calendar online.