The landscape of the Denver comedy scene is constantly changing. Comedians move away, venues change or close down, neighborhoods gentrify and audiences dissipate. Ephemerality is simply the cost of doing business in a field that offers precious little security, economic and otherwise. Even so, this past year witnessed a solid lineup of local showcases that deserve to stick around for a long time. Here are our ten top regular comedy shows, all produced by local comedians, that made 2015 a banner year for boner jokes — and give us high hopes for 2016.
10. The Highlands Comedy Room
Every Thursday at 8 p.m.
Jon Wilkins may be Denver comedy's favorite doofy uncle, but don't let his avuncular bafflement give you the wrong idea: The man runs one hell of a great comedy show. For many years, the local scene tended to overlook Denver's northern neighborhoods, and Wilkins has stepped in to fill that void. Booking only the best local and traveling standups, the Highlands Comedy Room boasts some of the city's best weekly lineups.Though the upscale Sushi Hai diners often require a bit of comedic wrangling to command their attention, the room is always full and festive. Recent highlights include Christmas and New Year's Eve showcases, proving that not even major holidays can keep the Highlands Comedy Room down.
Check the Highlands Comedy Room Facebook page for updates.
9. Comedy Night at Chain Reaction
Every Second Friday at 8 p.m.
Chain Reaction Brewing Company
Westword awarded this feisty brewery effort Best New Show of 2015, and it's been thriving ever since.Though throngs of rowdy chug thugs typically populate the restive and beery crowd, presenting a steep challenge to comics who can't meet their level of raucous energy, it's a rare delight to see our city's heavy hitters issue swift rejoinders to the heckler bros who plague this otherwise supportive room. Co-owners Zack and Chad Christofferson teamed up with their childhood hockey buddy, local standup Steve Vanderploeg, to craft a delicious brew from our city's ballyhooed beer and comedy scenes. Though the namesake Denver Comedy Pale Ale may be the obvious choice, we humbly recommend the peppercorn saison instead.
Check Chain Reaction Brewing Company's Facebook page for updates.
8. The Boulder Comedy Show
Every Sunday at 7 p.m.
The Bohemian Biergarten
Boulder's comedy needs have historically gone unmet, giving the college town a somewhat unfair reputation for proprietary humorlessness. But Comedy Works regular Brent Gill, a proudly cash-eyed CU alumnus, disproves this glib assumption week after week, bringing in a cavalcade of hot crowds and oddly shaped comedians to make the Bohemian Biergarten roar with laughter. Choose from a wide variety of local and imported brews while Gill and a hand-selected crew of jokeswains deliver their best new material. If the high number of repeat visitors is any indication, the Boulder Comedy Show has some new delights to offer its audiences each week.
Check the Boulder Comedy Show Facebook page for updates.
7. The Underground Comedy Showcase
One Saturday a month
The Soiled Dove Underground
The Underground Comedy Showcase at the Soiled Dove has emerged as one of Denver's finest showcases, with remarkably little fanfare. Though the Lowry venue typically hosts live jazz, folk and rock shows, the Underground Comedy Showcase has managed to pack the house month after month. Co-hosts Stephen Agyei and Matt Monroe (whose monthly Propaganda! at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret showcases also deserve a nod) typically book Comedy Works regulars and visiting comics with television experience, creating lineups that comedy fans are unlikely to see elsewhere in the city.
Check the Underground Comedy Show Facebook page for updates.
6. The Funky Brunch
One Saturday a month
A goodwill exercise in sustained wackiness, The Funky Brunch is a natural extension of creator Mara Wiles's irrepressible spirit and vaudevillian showmanship. Inspired by Chicago's Late Late Breakfast, Wiles brings the typically nocturnal beast of a comedy show roaring out into the light of day. The Funky Brunch presents its comedians with a roulette wheel of challenges, such as "The Wonder Woman," which requires standups to strike a heroic pose while the audience pelts them with marshmallows. Wiles, along with co-host Timmi Lasley and a rotating house band, don goofy wigs and elaborate costumes to the delight of a steadfast crowd of day-drinkers who gather in vintage rocking chairs to sip Grandma's House craft brew, nibble on vittles from a rotating selection of foods trucks, and take in the spectacle of the the Funky Brunch.
Check The Funky Brunch Facebook page for updates.
5. Something Fabulous
Every third Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Blush & Blu
The relationship between comedy and burlesque is as old as the art form itself. The medium of standup was born from the flop sweat of vaudeville entertainers frantically reciting one-liners to hold the attention of horned-up audiences between saucy dance routines — and Jordan Wieleba is keeping the tradition alive with Something Fabulous, an old-time variety show with a decidedly 21st-century LGBT-friendly outlook. Wieleba and co-producer Cherry Pop Pop Poppins work hard to foster a supportive sex-positive atmosphere while keeping the laughs rolling, succeeding month after month with this tittering and titillating hybrid showcase.
Check the Something Fabulous Facebook page for updates.
4. Too Much Fun!
Every Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.
The Deer Pile
The Fine Gentleman's Club may have lost a member and seen its spinoff showcase, Tickle Monster, canceled before it had the chance to gain a foothold, but its weekly Too Much Fun! showcase hasn't missed a step, and repeatedly earns its Best of Denver Best Free Comedy Show honors. Bobby Crane, Sam Tallent and Nathan Lund still never charge admission for a showcase that rivals any ticket in town. And despite such highlights as Dave Ross's album recording or the infamous surprise drop-in from Dave Chappelle, the real draws for Too Much Fun's loyal crowd of well-coiffured comedy nerds are the singular charms of the Gents themselves.
The Fine Gentleman's Club is inconsistent with online promotion, so just show up at the Deer Pile around 10:15: The Fine Gents rarely cancel.
3. Crush City
Typically at 8 p.m. the last Saturday of the month
The Savoy Events Center
Very few showcases have the talent decks stacked in their favor like Crush City. To begin with, it’s hosted by co-creators Jordan Doll and Aaron Urist, two Comedy Works-approved jokesmiths who’d be worth seeing every month even without the addition of finely curated lineups featuring nothing but the finest and funniest local comics and national headliners. The Savoy Events Center, an erstwhile dancehall and studio, may not seem like the an ideal venue at first, but when the seats are full and the jokes start flying, there's no finer place to be than here in the City of Crush.
The next Crush City is Saturday, January 23.
2. Amuse Booze
Every third Monday at 8 p.m.
Despite a venue relocation and a brief hiatus, Amuse Booze has continued to mix things up on the Denver comedy scene. A bartending competition elegantly stirred into a standup showcase, Amuse Booze is the brainchild of hosts and co-creators Anthony Crawford and Meghan DePonceau, two local comics who appreciate a well-mixed drink almost as much as a well-written joke. A testament to the creativity of Denver's arts scene and what we can achieve with combined effort, the night features bartenders who create outlandish concoctions that sometimes upstage the comedians, but always delight guests (who receive a free cocktail with their ticket).
Check the Amuse Booze Facebook page for updates.
1. Lucha Libre & Laughs
Once a month at 7 p.m. Sunday
The Oriental Theater
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When Westword evangelizes on behalf of an event as vociferously as we have for Lucha Libre & Laughs, it's only because when something as weird and wonderful as Lucha Libre & Laughs exists in our city, we're duty-bound to alert the masses. If you live in Denver and have never attended this delightful blend of wisecracks and hip attacks, you are officially blowing it.
Check the Lucha Libre & Laughs Facebook page for updates.
Quick note on our methodology: to narrow down the list to ten, we focused on weekly or monthly shows that feature standups doing their prepared material, leaving improv and character showcases (including perennial favorites like Uncalled Four and Arguments and Grievances) off the inventory. We also deliberately avoided listing any show-runner twice, even the prolific ones that produce more than one great show. Even so, the list of omissions is vast, and includes real gems like The Agency and Ratio Beerworks. Check out 5280Comedy for a full list of locally produced showcases.