The ten best comedy shows in April

As we inch our way toward the glory of summer comedy festivals, Denver has already begun heating up with a variety of shows featuring whip-smart young comics and world-wise icons of days past. We've got a DIY music and comedy festival (with a bouncy castle!), two feature players from Chelsea Lately, some foody-humor at Deer Pile, and some Missed Connection weirdness at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. Click ahead to see what spring has in store for the Denver comedy fans emerging from a six-month hibernation of Kids in the Hall DVD's and classic Nintendo games.

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10. Jo Koy With a razor-sharp stage presence combined with a unique approach to dark storytelling, Jo Koy has been a refreshing presence on the comedy circuit over the last decade. While there's no shortage of autobiographical comics talking about white guilt, black poverty or British disdain for royalty, Koy has a wonderful collection of material on his Filipino roots, a part of the world most comedy audiences aren't intimately familiar with. And -- as witnessed in his appearances on Leno and Chelsea Lately -- Koy is the perfect storyteller to interpret that world for a U.S. audience.

Comedy Works South, April 25-27. Tickets are $30. Comedy Works South is located at 5345 Landmark Place.

9. Festibowl Three days of live music, comedy, podcasting and a bouncy castle? I'm in. Straight from the Mouth House to your ears, this annual event has been gaining real momentum as the pre-summer community bacchanal, bringing some of the best local talent in music and comedy to a charming, DIY space. And did we mention there's a bouncy castle? This triple-threat show also sandwiches itself around another annual event of giggly-goodness, so after you've done your part to create that THC mushroom cloud in Civic Center Park, swing down to Mouth House for some comedy by Fine Gentleman's Club, a live taping of The Weird Paradise podcast, and three stages with twenty bands that include Varlet and The Tah Tahs.

The Mouth House, April 19-21. $5 suggested donation. The Mouth House is located at 2858 California Street.

8. Natasha Leggero Sharp-witted, stylish and relentlessly cruel, Natasha Leggero is another recognizable face of celebrity sniping on Chelsea Lately, as well as the 2010 season of Last Comic Standing. She may look sweet, but this observational comic will leave you gasping with disbelief at her one-toe-over-the-line shock rocking.

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Comedy Works, April 11 and 12. Tickets are $16-25. Comedy Works is located at 1226 15th Street.

Continue reading for our top picks.

7. Three Course Comedy A new addition to the collectable lineup of monthly comedy shows at Deer Pile, this unique event showcases the culinary side of comics, with three standups preparing a dish for the audience, which they compeiment with foody humor. This month sees Devon Davis preparing an appetizer, Greg Baumhauer on dinner, and TImmi Lasley delivering the dessert (all dishes are vegetarian). Hosted by Adrian Mesa and Eric Henderson, each show will be recorded and available for download as the podcast of same name. And if you're not stuffed with funny food afterward, stick around at 10 p.m. for Third Curd, a conceptual sketch comedy event.

Deer Pile, 8 p.m., Thursday, April 25. Free. Deer Pile is located at 206 East 13th Avenue.

6. Paul Reiser We all know Paul Reiser from his memorable roles in Aliens and Beverly Hills Cop and, of course, the sitcoms My Two Dads and Mad About You. But Reiser's credentials as a standup comedian can sometimes go overlooked. Often cited as an influence on young comics of the '90s, Paul Reiser was a classic name in the 1980's comedy boom, working alongside heavyweights like Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller and Eddie Murphy.

Comedy Works South, April 5-6. Tickets are $30. Comedy Works South is located at 5345 Landmark Place.

5. Missed Connections with Hot Nap Who doesn't love trawling Craigslist's Missed Connections page for some gawking at the weird and desperate? We at Westword certainly do. Showing twice a month at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, this event relies on the audience's selection of a random Missed Connection post, followed by the impov team Hot Nap creating the story that led up to the memorable moment when two people -- make that one -- experienced a bond with a passing stranger they're now desperate to reconnect with.

Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 10 p.m., April 5 and 12. Tickets are $5. Voodoo Comedy Playhouse is located at 1260 22nd Street.

Continue reading for our top picks.

4. National Conference on Media Reform Comedy After-Party After three days of waxing intellectual about the triumphs and failures of today's ever-evolving and ever-splintering media, it's time to let your hair down and surrender your cooked brain to a top-shelf selection of whip-smart comics. Hosted by the indomitable Andrew Orvedahl, this night features standups Hari Kondabolu, Kristin Rand, Troy Walker and many others. It's all topped off by a late-night dance party overseen by DJ Ren.

Deer Pile, 8 p.m. Sunday, April 7. $5 suggested donation. The Deer Pile is located at 206 East 13th Avenue.

3. John Caparulo Today so many comedy audiences are divided along political lines, with liberals going for David Cross while the conservatives stick with Larry the Cable Guy. But any such stereotyping should be avoided when it comes to semi-conservative comic John Caparulo, whose metronomic timing and brilliant observational humor should be accessible to comedy fans of all cultural backgrounds.

Comedy Works, April 25-28. Tickets are $26-31. Comedy Works is located at 1226 15th Street.

2. Propaganda featuring Beth Stelling You often have to chose between two-drink minimum comedy clubs and DIY underground spaces for your fix of Denver standups -- but over the last year Lannie's Clocktower has been gaining credibility as a genuine comedy venue with its Greater Than showcase of comics and bands. This hot-ticket monthly features local all-stars Kristin Rand, Sam Tallent and Kevin O'Brien, with L.A.'s Beth Stelling headlining. Stelling's autobiographical stories reveal a charming level of humiliation that fans of Lena Dunham's Girls will find wonderfully wince-worthy.

Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, 8 p.m., Sunday, April 21. Free. Lannie's Clocktower is located at 1601 Arapahoe Street.

1. Lily Tomlin While the funny bones of many standup legends have gone dry, Lily Tomlin has retained not only her keen sense of tension and hysteria, but her grace as a pioneer of female comics interested in more than cheap husband jokes. As the creator of the unforgettable Edith's Sandwich sketch and a star of the empowering classic 9 to 5, Tomlin's enduring talent is now shared with a new generation through her show-stealing role in I Heart Huckabees and a new round of excellent standup shows. A pair of tickets to this event would be the perfect transgenerational link between baby-boomer fans of Laugh In and their millennial children, who recognize the name from comedy podcasts like The Nerdist and WTF.

Paramount Theatre, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13. Tickets are $45-85. The Paramount Theatre is located at 1621 Glenarm Place.

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