The Ten Best Comedy Events in Denver: January 2017

Kathy Griffin headlines the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, January 28.
Kathy Griffin headlines the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, January 28. Courtesy of Ballantine Books
As Coloradans face a cold and unknowable 2017, it's heartening to remember that opportunities to lose themselves in the warmth of a chortling crowd will present themselves all month long. With fond farewells, grand homecomings and special guests headlining our clubs and theaters, January has comedy shows galore in store for every stripe of comedy nerd. Resolve to see everything this city has to offer, support local showcases and laugh your way into the new year.

1.  Fifty First Jokes
Saturday, January 7
Bug Theatre

Fifty First Jokes swiftly became a beloved annual tradition for the Denver Comedy community. Like many great New Year's traditions, this show brings people together under one roof and directs their gaze toward the future. Local hosts Timmi Lasley and Mara Wiles continue a tradition dating back to 2007, when a boozy throng of New York standups convened in a Lower East Side bar to debut their first joke of the new year. Under the stalwart guidance of original producer John F. O'Donnell, Fifty First Jokes has expanded to dozens of other cities and still draws sell-out crowds every year. Because every joke has to be written after the ball drops to herald the arrival of 2017, audiences are guaranteed fresh material from a cavalcade of Denver's finest and funniest, while the participating comics must rise to meet the challenge. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I'm scheduled to perform on this show, along with 49 other comics.)

Doors open at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. showtime. Tickets are $10 at

2. Dana Gould

Wednesday January 11
The Dairy Arts Center
January 12-14
Comedy Works Downtown

Very few comedians have amassed television résumés as impressive as Dana Gould's, and almost none have made it as far without a starring role on their own eponymous sitcom. Yet with an HBO special, two one-hour Showtime specials and guest appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman, Conan, Maron and Real Time with Bill Maher all under Gould's belt, he has hours of material waiting to delight the newly initiated. He has also had prominent guest roles on shows like Anger Management, Seinfeld and in the dirty-joke-etymology documentary The Aristocrats. Behind the camera, Gould was a co-executive producer of The Simpsons and a producer on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. His monthly podcast, The Dana Gould Hour, is a hilarious and inventive exploration of what the medium can do. Lately, Gould has been working behind the scenes as the creator and executive producer of IFC's Stan Against Evil, a horror-comedy series that doesn't skimp on the scares. Check Westword's Arts & Culture section later this week for a full Q&A with Gould.

Showtime for the Dairy Arts Center show is 7:30 p.m., and admission is $15; visit the Dairy Center's box office page for tickets and more information. Comedy Works showtimes and admission prices vary; visit Comedy Works' events calendar for details and to buy tickets.

3. Sexpot Comedy Presents Ben Kronberg

Thursday, January 12
The Oriental Theater

Ben Kronberg is among the most successful of Denver comedy expatriates, having amassed an impressive list of credits and accomplishments since moving to New York. After his high-profile appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers, John Oliver's New York Standup Show and the Comedy Central Half Hour, it's always a pleasant surprise to see Kronberg drop in at ignominious Denver open mics to weird people out — but he has always made a point of returning home to the scene where he developed his outré comedic voice. With his puckish wit and an impermeable poker face on stage, he's the sort of comic who inspires outlandish stories and admiration from his peers. Kronberg is currently at work on a web series called "Ted and Gracie," about a woman who is unaware that her fiance is a serial killer. Join the prodigal Denverite and local comics Rachel Weeks, Zac Maas and Janae Burris for this fitting homecoming show at the Oriental.

Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. showtime. Tickets are $10 via the Oriental Theater events calendar.

4. Sexpot Comedy Presents Gad Elmaleh
Thursday, January 19
Gothic Theatre

One of Europe's most famous working comedians, Gad Elmaleh recently relocated to New York to make his mark on the American entertainment industry. Stateside, Elmaleh is probably best known as a character actor who stole scenes in films like Midnight in Paris, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn and The Dictator,  but he's been performing one-man shows in Paris since the ’90s, and he wrote, directed and starred in Coco, a European box-office smash. Born in Morocco, the multilingual Elmaleh is a truly international performer for whom America is the last frontier of stardom. Though newly arrived to the States, Elmaleh has been welcomed with his A-list pedigree, appearing on Conan, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Showtime is at 8 p.m. Get tickets, $30-$35 at

click to enlarge CHRISSY CHEUNG
Chrissy Cheung
5. What a Joke: A National Comedy Festival Supporting the ACLU
Thursday, January 19
Syntax Physic Opera

In these dubious times, even Americans' most vital civil rights feel threatened, which makes the efforts of organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union more crucial than ever before. That's why New York comedians Jenn Welch and Emily Winter spearheaded the What a Joke National Comedy Festival, a series of simultaneous standup showcases in cities all over the country (with a European outpost held in Oxford, England) with the shared goal of raising funds for the ACLU while laughing all the way through Trump's inauguration. Join co-hosts Timmi Lasley (creative director of El Charrito's Comedy Room Room) and Kyle Pogue (co-founder of Fort Comedy), who've invited Christie Buchele and Chicago's Brittany Meyer to join other surprise guests, for the Denver edition of What a Joke. Though the shows aren't directly affiliated with the ACLU, proceeds from ticket sales and prize raffles will be donated to the organization. Hate may have taken the electoral college, but laughter can still win the day.

Read on for five more of January's best comedy shows.
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Byron Graham is a writer, comedian and gentleman thief from Denver. Co-host of Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, the deathless Lion's Lair open mic and the Mutiny Book Club podcast, Byron also writes about comedy for Westword. He cannot abide cowardice, and he's never been defeated in an open duel.
Contact: Byron Graham