Comedy at the Squire Lounge has a storied yet ignominious history -- and Greg Baumhauer has been there through it all. As the founder and erstwhile host of the Squire's notorious Tuesday night open mic, Baumhauer has evolved into something of a deadbeat father-figure to novice comics who haunt the beloved dive bar week after week. For seven years, Baumhauer has presided over what came to be known as "the meanest mic in America." Indeed, for comics and audiences alike, Baumhauer's pointed mockery proved to be just as fearsome as the bar's pipe-hitting, knife-wielding demographic. While the Squire has (debatably) improved these days, open mic night can still feel like more of a stygian journey to nowhere than an evening of standup comedy -- but all that may change soon. The Squire is closing its doors for a few weeks to undergo major renovations.
In celebration of the death and eventual rebirth of the Squire Lounge, Greg Baumhauer will be recording his first live comedy album there on Thursday, August 15. See also: -Squire Lounge Comedy Night: It lives! It lives! -Greg Baumhauer on the end of the Squire Lounge's open-mike comedy night -Get Up, Stand Up
Westword: Why did you decide to record a comedy album now?
Greg Baumhauer: I decided a little while ago that I was going to record my album at the Squire. I probably should have recorded like five years ago, but I'm the ultimate slacker. I thought about doing it some other places, but I came to the decision that the album has to be called Greg Baumhauer: Live at the Squire Lounge. It has to. That's why it came about so quickly, because I found out that the renovations were happening, and I wanted to record this while the Squire was still the Squire. It's going to be more than just my album; it'll be a eulogy to what the Squire was.
How do you feel about the renovations?
Personally I'm torn about the remodel, because I love the staff and I want them to make more money and be able to go to work without the fear of getting stabbed. It will be nice to be able to take a shit there without going into the women's room. But it's sad, too, because that part of Denver is disappearing, the great dive bars are closing down or changing with the times. It's a sad trend. Denver is a seedy fucking town, even if we don't want to admit it. Denver is basically a truck stop with a couple of museums and a football team. It's our history. Denver is where pioneers who just ate their families on the trail would stop to drink whiskey and go whoring. I used to work at the Brown Palace hotel, and there's a tunnel underneath that guests would take to the brothel across the street.
How do you feel about the show?
I'm nervous about the show. I just booked it a week ago, so these jokes are not going to be as practiced as they would be for most comedy albums. It's also one-night only, so I've just got this one shot. Most comedy albums are recorded over a week, and cherry-picked for the best responses. For all I know the fucking power could go out on Thursday. Who knows who's going to heckle me? That's part of the reason I wanted to record it there. One of the things I miss about Denver comedy is the roughness of it. The Squire added a grit and meanness to the comedy scene that's kind of gone now. I used to be afraid almost every time I walked up on that stage. When I was host, before I started each show I had to convince myself that what I was about to do was a good idea. I'd be chain-smoking in the kitchen and it would take a few shots to get me out there.
Do you have a favorite anecdote from the Squire's seedier days?
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Yeah. It was back when I was hosting, and Adam Cayton-Holland was onstage. Back then, both doors opened, including the one right next to the stage. So this crackhead walks in the side door, and he's having an animated conversation on this weird-looking phone. You know: Crackheads, they command attention, so people were watching this crazy guy talk. So Adam starts talking to the guy. He looks at him and says, "Sir, are you talking into a baby's shoe?" And the guy was. Adam was asking him where the baby went, and I usually never do this, but I went up onto the stage, took the mic and announced, "I'm going to need everyone in here to search every dumpster within a four-mile radius." Things like that probably just won't happen any more. Greg Baumhauer: Live at the Squire Lounge is recording live at 10 p.m. Thursday at the Squire. This is an ideal opportunity for comedy fans and Colfax scumbags alike to enjoy the old Squire one last time. Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.