While previous summers have given comedy fans a handful of semi-decent shows to look forward to, this August is so packed with top-shelf talent that it's difficult to limit a list of the highlights to just ten shows. In the month ahead we have two female comedy duos, two local festivals, a bit of food humor, and a drag queen who loves bingo. So do some sit-ups and strengthen your core, because August is going to have your abs cramping with laughter.
See also: - Roseanne Barr on class, gays and Denver comedy in the '80s - B-cycles, pot and Comedy Works: Our day with comedian Chuck Roy - Comedian Christopher Titus on Sarah Palin, "retards" and Killer Klowns
10.Mona Lott at Film on the Rocks - Rocky Horror Picture Show
Standup comedy has really taken hold in the LGBT community this year, with transgender performers like Penny From Heaven and Jordan Wieleba and openly gay comics like Chuck Roy crafting material specifically for queer audiences. But when it comes to sarcasm, merciless wit and explosive eye-candy, Mona Lott rises above the rest with her outrageous topical prescriptions. And where better to catch Lott's set than at Red Rocks, where she'll be opening for Rocky Horror at Film on the Rocks? In addition to telling jokes, this Cleopatra-comic will host a single round of her infamous Drag Queen Bingo game. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 13 at Red Rocks Auditorium. Advance tickets $12. Visit Red Rocks' website for more information.
9. A Tribute to Phil Hartman
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Presented in connection with the Denver Film Society's Close Encounters of the Animated Kind festival, this event provides a sneak peak at the animated adaptation of Phil Hartman's Flat TV comedy album. Recorded prior to Hartman's unforgettable stint on SNL, Flat TV was a forgotten collection of audio sketches that resurfaced in 2002 after his death. No release date has been set for the animated feature, but you can get a sample of what's to come by heading over to the Sie FilmCenter for this multifaceted event that will also feature presentations by Maggie Roswell (voice of Maude Flanders and Mrs. Lovejoy from The Simpsons), Paul Hartman (Phil's brother) and others -- as well as a screening of Kiki's Delivery Service, co-starring Hartman and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. 10 p.m. Saturday, August 10 at the SieFilm Center. Tickets are $11-$13. Visit the event webpage for more information.
Hot off its first anniversary show, Matt Monroe's Propaganda has quickly established itself as one of the most anticipated monthly comedy events in Denver. And it's free! This month's event follows Adam Cayton-Holland's High Plains Comedy Festival (see our number one slot), so if you can't catch that event but still need to get your laugh on, head down to Lannie's on Sunday for some top-shelf comedy from Sean Patton, Kate Berlant, Andy Sandford, Dave Stone, Noah Gardenswartz, Matt Knudsen and Troy Baxley, as well as a few unannounced surprise guests. 8 p.m. Sunday, August 25 at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret. Free. Visit Lannie's website for more information.
Fill your belly with laughter and dinner at this scrumptious Deer Pile event hosted by Adrian Mesa. The concept is simple: Three comics prepare either an appetizer, main course or dessert for the audience, then deliver culinary humor and dish up more entertainment in a live interview conducted by Mesa -- all recorded for a whip-smart comedy podcast. August's edition of Three Course Comedy brings you Andrew Orvedahl, Daniel Reskin, Matt Monroe and a special appearance by part-time food critic Aaron Urist, performing as his gastronomical alter-ego, Herbert Elvis Walrus. 8 p.m. Thursday, August 22 at Deer Pile. This event is free; visit Deer Pile's Facebook page for more information.
Both respected standups in their own right, Kristin Rand and Mara Wiles come together as a comedy duo with a wicked combination of charm and self-effacing humiliation. The two have worked together for years on projects such as the Lady Face sketch comedy troupe, and recently reunited for Moxie after Wiles's kidney transplant forced her into a comedy sabbatical. If circumstances beyond your control keep you from attending their Voodoo Comedy Playhouse performance, you're sure to have countless future opportunities to see this relentless team at Deer Pile and other venues about town. And you can catch Kristin Rand performing a solo standup set at The Greater Than Social Club's upcoming event on Friday, August 9 at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret. 10 p.m. on August 30 at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. Tickets are $10; go to the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse website for more information.
5. Brian Regan
Few standup comedians warrant a solo performance at Red Rocks. Fewer still achieve that level of success without the boost of a hit sitcom or a Hollywood comedy with a handsome male dressed as a corpulent old lady. While relatively clean and non-controversial, Regan is widely respected in the comedy community as one of the greatest working comics today. His 1997 album, Brian Regan Live, has become a classic of the genre, and he's built on that momentum since with specials and sold-out tours. 8 p.m. Friday, August 9 at Red Rocks Auditorium. Tickets are $29-$59. Visit the Red Rocks website for more information.
4. Garfunkel and Oates
After numerous appearances on the Savage Love podcast, this musical comedy duo has settled into the hearts of cynics and romantics alike the world over. Performing satirical songs that challenge such social issues as anti-gay bigotry ("Sex With Ducks"), pregnancy culture ("Pregnant Women Are Smug") and abstinence-only sex-ed ("The Loophole," video above), Garfunkel and Oates are quick-witted and melodiously gifted humorists who will leave you doubled over with thoughtful laughs. Four shows on Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3 at Comedy Works South. Tickets are $25; visit the Comedy Works website for more information.
3. Fine Gentleman's Club's Hot Congress Fundraiser
The Denver comedy scene has been waiting with bated breath for the Fine Gentleman's Club to release its debut album. Recorded last Halloween at Comedy Works, the album will feature all four members of FGC delivering their sharpened material, presented on twelve-inch vinyl by local label Hot Congress Records in its first foray into the comedy industry. The comedy crew is inching ever-closer to its goal of being able to cover the cost of putting the album out; this fundraising event at the newly established Sidewinder Tavern could put it over the edge. FGC will also be presenting the third installment of its annual Too Much Funstival event over the last weekend of the month -- but is keeping a tight lid on the details until later in August. Stay tuned for more details. 9 p.m. Saturday, August 3 at the Sidewinder Tavern. Admission is $5; for more information visit the event's Facebook page.
2. Marc Maron
Standup comedy doesn't have many comeback stories. If a comic makes it big, typically he or she will have a decent run on a sitcom or in the movies, and then eek out a living on the road, trying to remind audiences who they are. But Marc Maron is a rare case of comedy reverse-engineering. After struggling through one failure after another, losing wives and pieces of his dignity along the way, he found his voice and audience through a Morrissey-like vulnerability and self-loathing on his hit podcast, WTF. He's recently moved into television with his autobiographical IFC series, Maron, quickly becoming one of the most sought-after voices in the funny business. This self-effacing comedian has yet to run for the Hollywood hills; he still tours and performs live tapings of WTF. Marc Maron's upcoming Comedy Works gig is a highly anticipated event for all the comedy locals who love standup and hate themselves.
1. High Plains Comedy Festival
The inaugural High Plains Comedy Festival, presented by Illegal Pete's, will be the highlight of Denver comedy not just in August, but all year. While the Too Much Funstival and Laugh Track festivals have created major momentum for the local comedy scene, High Plains will be our city's first nationally recognized comedy rendezvous, flying in standup heavyweights like Sean Patton (who recently premiered his half-hour Comedy Central special), Kyle Kinane (who was recently tequilarific on Drunk History) and headliner Reggie Watts (of Comedy Bang Bang). Denver's first major comedy festival will be more than just a Hollywood handjob, though: Some of our once-unknown scene's local talent will be on hand, including Hippieman, Jordan Doll, Jim Hickox, Chuck Roy and members of such comedy teams as Fine Gentleman's Club, Moxie and Grawlix, of course. If you miss out on this weekend-long funny feast, you might as well sit out the next year of shows, because it's not going to get any better than this. Friday, August 23 and Saturday, August 24 at Hi-Dive, The Hornet, the Gothic Theatre and 3 Kings Tavern. Ticket possibilities range from day passes to all-festival passes to simply admission to Reggie Watts. Visit the event website for more information.
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For more comedy commentary, follow me on Twitter at @JosiahMHesse.