Arts and Culture

The Ten Best Comedy Events in Denver in July

Join comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short for a trio of performances across the Front Range.
Join comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short for a trio of performances across the Front Range. Mark Seliger
The promise of July has much more to offer than fireworks, barbecues and sunny weather — not that we have anything against fireworks, barbecues and sunny weather. Colorado's cultural calendar flourishes all throughout the Emperor-honoring month, and comedy is no exception. The weeks ahead are replete with opportunities to beat the heat with laughter, with options ranging from locally produced festivals, a cadre of standup nerd heroes, and Centennial State-side appearances from comedy legends, including a trio of performances from Steve Martin and Martin Short. Keep reading to find about more about the ten best comedy shows in the Denver area this July, then get ready to giggle all month long.

Jay Leno
Friday, July 5, 8 p.m.
Vilar Performing Arts Center

Jay Leno takes a lot of heat from dyed-in-the-wool comedy nerds, both for his Conan O'Brien-thwarting tenure on the Tonight Show and his recent penchant for the "Get off my lawn" school of standup favored by too many comics of his generation. But there's no denying that his influence has shaped the history of the medium itself. While he's no longer beamed into viewers' living rooms five nights a week, Leno has maintained a particularly active retirement, performing over 200 nights a year and showing off his extensive collection of fine automobiles on Jay Leno's Garage. If you've got the funds and the time to drive to Beaver Creek, you can see the big-chinned baron of late night for yourself as he tools through Colorado to tell jokes for a well-heeled crowd
at Vilar Performing Arts Center. Ticket prices start at $195 each; visit Vilar Performing Arts Center's box-office page to buy yours and learn more.

Colfax Comedy Festival
July 9 to 14, showtimes vary
Multiple Venues
$4 to $24

It's no coincidence that the "longest and wickedest street in America" is a haven for open mics and dive bar standup shows; humor can only truly thrive in dark and dank spaces. Celebrate the lively avenue's contributions to Denver culture at the inaugural Colfax Comedy Festival, which presents five days of dick jokes and debauchery at venues all across the eponymous thoroughfare. Festival headliners, including the Brooklyn-based Jake Flores, along with a cavalcade of local favorites like Ben Bryant, Sam Tallent, Nancy Norton, Elliot Woolsey, Ben Kronberg and John Novosad, will be appearing throughout the week at places like the Irish Snug, Kinga's Lounge, Streets Denver, BarFly and more. The first two shows of the Colfax Comedy Festival are free and open to the public; after that, tickets are $4 to $8 for individual shows. VIP passes, which grant holders admission to every show plus two free drinks at the main event, will run you $24. Visit the Colfax Comedy Festival home page for tickets and further details. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I'll be among the dozens of participating Denver comics.)

Jay Chandrasekhar
July 11 to 13, Showtimes Vary
Comedy Works South
$21 to $26

As the director of The Dukes of Hazzard, BeerFest, and numerous episodes of shows like Arrested Development and The Goldbergs, Jay Chandrasekhar may be most notable for his behind-the-camera work these days. His performing roots, however, can be traced back to his college days and the formation of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, which would ultimately form the collective brain trust behind the Sooper Troopers series. In recent years, Chandrasekhar has steadily honed his standup comedy chops in the midst of various production schedules, culminating in a frank and stoner-friendly hour of jokes that Broken Lizard fans are sure to love — so don't miss out when he swings through Denver. To buy tickets, $21 to $26, and find out more, head over to the Comedy Works box-office page.

Tommy Davidson
July 12 to 13, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
Denver Improv

Tommy Davidson is serious about the funny business. After breaking out along with the future star-filled cast of the classic sketch show In Living Color (which also included Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and several Wayans siblings), Davidson has hustled his way to a steady show business career, which has continued in recent years with appearances on Black Dynamite, I'm Dying Up Here, and Frat Pack. While he hasn't recorded a one-hour special since 1996's On the Strength, he's maintained a perpetually busy touring schedule, returning to clubs like the Denver Improv year after year. Get your annual dose of Davidson; check out the Denver Improv box-office page to buy tickets, $20, and learn more.

Steve Martin and Martin Short
July 12 to 14, 7:30 p.m.
Budweiser Events Center
Pikes Peak Center
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
$49.50 tp $175

Two out of Three Amigos ain't bad. Septuagenarian superstars of comedy Steve Martin and Martin Short are back for another round of banjo and buffoonery with Now You See Them, Soon You Won't, a mostly all-new followup to their acclaimed Netflix concert film An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life. Wisecracking banter along vaudevillian sketches and musical numbers await when the two comedy legends join with pianist Jeff Babko and the Steep Canyon Rangers for three evenings of whimsy. Readers all over the Centennial State can catch Martin and Martin singing and joking their way through shows in Loveland, Colorado Springs and Vail. Visit the Budweiser Events Center, Pikes Peak Center and Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater box-office pages to buy tickets, $49.50 to $175, and discover further details.

Daniel Sloss
Saturday, July 13, 8 p.m.
Boulder Theater

A Scottish teen prodigy who's blossomed into a worldwide headliner, Daniel Sloss began his comedy career at the wee age of seventeen. After landing early gigs as a writer for the BBC comedy panel show Mock the Week and perennial darling of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Sloss unleashed one standup special after another at a fiendishly prolific rate, resulting in a series of acclaimed hours, including DARK and JIGSAW, which were recently released by Netflix. While Sloss doesn't quite enjoy the same degree of household recognition across the pond, he's made a stateside splash with appearances on shows like Conan, The Late Late Show, and Drunk History. Currently in the midst on a North American tour in support of his tenth hour of material — which he's simply calling "X" — Sloss is stopping off at the Boulder Theater on Saturday, July 12 for an evening of anglophile-friendly comedy. To find tickets, $37.50, and more information, visit the Boulder Theater box-office page.
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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