As Denverites roast their way through international hot dog month during the high plains heat, opportunities abound to chortle away the evenings in air-conditioned comfort. Fittingly for a month named after an emperor, July has a legion of comedic delights ready to lay siege to our city's sweaty audiences — everything from Kiwi comedy folk duos to local upstarts to comedy legends. Here are the ten top comedy events this month, in chronological order.
10. Lucha Libre & Laughs: From Parts Unknown
Sunday, July 3
The Oriental Theater
Honored with our Best Comedy Night award two years running, Lucha Libre & Laughs remains a winning combo. After hitting the road with Crom Comedy Festival and earning a new fan in Bobcat Goldthwait, LLL is back at the Oriental with a lineup that will tickle your ribs before breaking them with fists. Bouts by comedians Patrick Scott, Jose MaCall, Christie Buchele and Stephen Agyei will be interspersed with hilarious color commentary from Nathan Lund and Sam Tallent while pro wrestlers such as Martin Casaus Royce Isaacs, Colt Cabana and Sammy Six-Guns Jr. brawl in the ring. This is Tallent's last show here for the foreseeable future, so it's a can't-miss proposition for longtime fans.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. showtime. Tickets are $10 through the Oriental Theater website.
9. Flight of the Conchords
Tuesday, July 5
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
For the most part, standups loathe musical comedy and resent that its crowd-pleasing hackery overshadows mediocre joke-writing and songcraft. Flight of the Conchords transcends this ignoble tradition by fully committing to its role as New Zealand's fourth-most-popular folk act, creating hilarious genre pastiches that are tuneful ear worms in their own right. Best known for their eponymous HBO series, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement have achieved an elite degree of success in their post-Conchords lives. Clement maintains a busy acting career, stealing scenes in films like Eagle Vs. Shark, What We Do in the Shadows and The BFG. McKenzie has served as music producer for the newly rebooted Muppets franchise, even winning an Academy Award for the song "Man or Muppet." With such busy individual schedules, it's cause for celebration indeed when Flight of the Conchords reunites, and we can't think of a better venue for the reunion.
Gates open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. showtime. The show is sold out, but there are still tickets for sale on Stubhub.
8. The Agency Presents Crossroads Comedy
Monday, July 11
Crossroads Theater is an essential cultural resource for the community, but it's suffered an identity crisis along with financial woes over the years. Fortunately, its relationship with Cory Rhoads, Matt Wayman, Walter Booth and Robert Abbot of the Agency sketch group has remained intact, and the Crossroads Comedy Show soldiers on. Bringing the best local and traveling comedians to a stage that ironically once hosted church services, the Agency is building a monthly showcase that combines sketches, standup and live music into an evening brimming with beery revelry. In addition to producing live sketches, videos, a podcast and a small zine. The Agency boys also run a weekly sketch/standup showcase Saturday nights at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $3 at the door.
7. Maronzio Vance
Maronzio Vance is a tireless actor and standup comedian who performs in clubs across the country. Vance discovered his love of standup while stalking the Kings of Comedy, waiting in the bathrooms for a chance encounter after their shows. In the years since, Vance has told jokes on The Tonight Show, Comics Unleashed and Comedy Central's The Half Hour. He currently has a regular role on the sitcom Lopez.
Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. every night, with an additional 9:45 p.m. late show on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $17 on the Denver Improv website.
6. Nikki Glaser
Comedy Works South
After developing her voice on the Midwestern club circuit, Nikki Glaser made a smashing television debut in the seventh season of Last Comic Standing, where she stood out with her frank material and unflappable stage presence despite only advancing to the semi-finals. In the years since, Glaser has worked exclusively in television, appearing on @Midnight, The Late Late Show With James Corden, in the film Trainwreck as well as several sketches on Inside Amy Schumer. Lately, Glaser seems to have found a home on Comedy Central, where she currently hosts her own series, Not Safe With Nikki Glaser. CC also produced her latest one-hour special, Perfect, which premiered on the network in April. A favorite among Denver comedy nerds, Glaser has headlined Sexpot shows and participated in last year's High Plains Comedy Festival, but now she's here to headline one of our finest local clubs.
Showtimes are at 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. Tickets cost $25 on the Comedy Works' website.
Keep reading for more comedy events in July.
4. Roseanne Barr
Monday, July 18
Comedy Works Downtown
Roseanne Barr started her standup career in Denver, honing her craft at the original Comedy Works before moving on to widespread fame, so it's fitting that she'd return to the club where she found her voice. While she'll probably always be best known as the creator and star of the groundbreaking eponymous sitcom Roseanne, Barr has enjoyed a long and controversial career beyond that show. While in recent years she's taken detours into reality television and politics, even running for president as the 2012 nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party, Barr has always returned to standup. She courted controversy again this year as a judge on Last Comic Standing, when she got into a Denver comedy dustup with local success story Ben Kronberg, which culminated in Barr telling the cheeky contestant to "Go fuck yourself." Though she's amassed a sizable cadre of haters over the years, Barr is a comedy legend and a trailblazer.
Showtime is 8 p.m.; tickets are $45 from the Comedy Works website.
4. Sexpot Comedy Presents Imaginary Radio With Drennon Davis
Saturday, July 16
Drennon Davis is a groundbreaking performer and a darling of comedy festivals like Edinburgh Fringe, Bridgetown, South by Southwest and even Denver's own High Plains. Named one of "10 Comedy Acts to Watch" in the pages of our sister publication LA Weekly, Davis is a master of loopy songcraft and absurd humor. Imaginary Radio is Davis' boogie brainchild, an evening that mixes standup and sketch scored to spot-on genre parodies from every channel on the FM dial. Openers Nick Stargu (aka DJ Real) and Sean Keane join local crushers Ben Bryant and Jordan Wieleba, along with host Andy Juett, for an evening of tuneful hilarity that only Sexpot could provide.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets cost $8 plus fees from Nightout.
3. Guest List
Friday, July 22
Ben Bryant is one of the hardest-working young comics in Denver, a baby-faced veteran of the open-mic scene. In addition to telling jokes all over the state, Bryant co-created the hilarious though sadly defunct sketch group Middlename. Like other determined upstarts, Bryant is now producing his own show, but unlike pretty much everyone else's efforts, we endorse this effort. A variety show combining videos, live sketch and standup comedy, Guest List is decidedly more ambitious than most fledgling showcases. With a greedily stacked debut lineup boasting the comedic stylings of Ryan Nowell, Sean Cummings, Zac Maas, Jacob Rupp, Christie Buchele, Nathan Lund and several drop-in guests, we have high hopes for Guest List.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 at the door.
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2. Chuck Roy: American Bear
Saturday, July 23
The Oriental Theater
Chuck Roy is a veteran of the Denver comedy scene who's now passing on his knowledge to a new generation of eager comic minds in his class at Denver Community College. Known locally for his dirty holiday shows, Roy has recently appeared in Ralphie May's Filthy Animal Tour and Louie Anderson Presents, and was named Modern Drunkard magazine's "Drunk of the Month." Now the bear is back, and he'll be laying waste to the Oriental Theater stage with the help of comedians Steve "Mudflap" McGrew, the Smash Brothers and emcee Eugene Kenny. With three headliner-caliber comedians in opener spots, this promises to be an evening that's chockablock with chuckles.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. showtime. Tickets cost $10 through the Oriental Theater website.
1. Cartoons & Comedy
Thursday, July 28
The Deer Pile
Capping off our trio of Sexpot-sponsored comedy shows, Cartoons & Comedy closes out the month in a spirit of hazy bonhomie. After recent triumphs including a drop-in appearance from Hannibal Buress, Chris Baker's showcase returns to the Deer Pile for another evening of vintage ’toons and fresh riffs. With comedians Ron Babcock, Timmi Lasley and surprise guests we can't reveal here appearing on this month's show, there's never been a better time to grab a bowl of sugary cereal and revisit childhood favorites in the company of top-notch comics.
Showtime is at 10 p.m. Admission is free.