The hitherto wandering troupe, founded by iO Chicago-trained instructor Justin Franzen, had hosted sketch and improv shows all over town at places like the Comedy RoomRoom, Atlas Theater, Backstage at Beryl's and Deer Pile, yet had not found a spot capable of both facilitating a regular performance schedule and providing classroom space for the students in Grafenberg's Playschool instruction program.
Luckily for the Grafenbergers, just as a six-year relationship with one venue came to a close, another was beginning to blossom. While standup was the original purview of El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom and producer Timmi Lasley had invited Franzen to bring his company to the stage, the collaboration was stymied by scheduling conflicts.
But then came a much bigger opportunity, from the building at the corner of Larimer and 21st streets.
Orrin had already experienced success turning unused real estate into a space where enterprising creatives would thrive when he and Lasley (plus a number of employees and volunteers) converted El Charrito's mostly empty dining room into a DIY comedy club with a busy performance calendar. So it seemed natural to extend a similar offer to Franzen and crew for more unused space, behind the old dive bar and in the basement. However, reaching an agreement was just the beginning.
"The space needs a lot of work," Franzen admits. "Everything structural was done, which was great. The hardest part was probably cleaning the basement out for our classrooms. The basement had tons of weird stuff in it from the previous owners. The strangest things were the huge plastic tubes partially filled with cigarettes, two full five-gallon buckets of cigarette butts, two trash bags of cigarette butts, and a baby swing."
"Our main goal is to focus on more sketch comedy and written one-act plays and help really foster a sketch community while at the same time helping raise the bar for Denver improv. And Timmi, Matt and I plan to work together and collaborate as much as possible." Franzen continues, "For example, Timmi and I plan to rent a U-Haul and travel around town doing pop-up shows. So keep an eye out for Comedy VroomRoom."
To learn more, and to contribute to Grafenberg's efforts, visit the troupe's Indiegogo page. The fundraising campaign ends soon.