Laff It Up In Aspen

Back in the golden age of HBO as a comedy staple, Colorado’s very own weirdo star-haven was home to the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, one of the network’s biggest comedy events of the year. And for the thirteen years leading up to 2007, Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House, 320 East Hyman Avenue in Aspen, was ground zero for those festivities.

“After 2007, HBO changed its philosophy and abandoned all its comedy festivals,” recalls Gram Slaton, the Wheeler’s executive director. “We picked up the ball on that.” For the first couple of years after HBO pulled out, the Wheeler worked with Rooftop Comedy out of San Francisco; this will be the venue’s first year of going it alone with the newly christened Aspen Laff Festival — and it looks promising. The events kick off with a couple of freebies: Tonight, local Aspen comics take the stage, while tomorrow night brings a “sampler pack” of the rest of the week’s events with the hilarious Tom Simmons, who serves as the festival’s master of ceremonies. The laffs continue through Saturday, March 19 (highlights include riffy panels of “Comics on Drinking” and “Comics on Religion”) with a closing performance by Caroline Rhea, now best known as the former host of The Biggest Loser.

Shows range from free to $35 and packages are available; to purchase tickets, get the complete lineup or find more information, call 970-920-5770 or visit
March 16-19, 2011

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte