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JB Smoove headlines the Denver Improv comedy club from May 17 to 18.
JB Smoove headlines the Denver Improv comedy club from May 17 to 18.
Courtesy of Loshak PR

The Ten Best Comedy Shows in Denver in May

A late April frosting may forestall the arrival of proverbial May flowers, but the laughs start right away and continue along all throughout the merry month. From up and coming talents like Nicole Byer, Hannah Gadsby, and Hari Kondabolu to televisual fixtures like Chelsea Handler, Trevor Noah, and JB Smoove, comedy permeates the air like springtime pollen for the next thirty days. In addition to an impressive roster of national headliners, the list below also includes a little digital ink for a pair of homegrown success stories, namely, the Pump and Dump and Boulder Comedy shows. Keep reading for the ten best comedy events in Denver and Boulder circa May 2019.

Nicole Byer
May 2 - 4, Showtimes Vary
Comedy Works Downtown
$22 - $47

Though she's most widely recognized these days as the host of the hit cooking show Nailed It!, Nicole Byer spent years forging her career in the funny business before landing her current gig as the cheerful overseer of baking failures. After training at the reliable talent incubator of the Upright Citizens Brigade, Byer went on to become a regular talking head on Girl Code and make brief but memorable appearances on shows like 30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Good Place. Byer's signature blend of raunchy positivity is on full in her Comedians of the World special, and recent appearance o Comedy Central's This Is Not Happening, yet she may be at her most delightful when she's bemoaning her dating woes on the podcast Why Won't You Date Me?. Loyal listeners, amateur gourmands, and future fans alike won't miss Byer's headlining engagement at Comedy Works to kick off a mirth-filled month of May. Get tickets, $22 - $47, and more information on Comedy Works' box office page.

Paula Poundstone
Friday, May 3, 7:30 p.m.
Paramount Theatre
$35 - $55

Serving up vests, ties, and plenty of wry for over three decades, the instantly-recognizable Paula Poundstone has fully earned her place in the pantheon of standup comedy greats. Currently appearing as a regular panelist on NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me, and host of the podcast Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone, the Cable Ace and American Comedy Award-winning comedian —who made history as the first woman to receive both honors— returns for her perennial visit to Denver's Paramount Theatre on Friday, May 3. An improvisational maestro and queen of the callback, Poundstone prides herself on never delivering the same performance twice; so each show presents a rib-tickling tabula rasa for longtime fans. To buy tickets, $35 - $55, and find out more, visit the Paramount Theatre's Altitude Tickets page.

Chelsea Handler's Sit-Down Comedy Tour
Saturday, May 4, 8 p.m.
Paramount Theatre
$69.50-$114.50

Throughout her long and illustrious career, Chelsea Handler has excelled as a comedian, actor, talk show host, bestselling author, and executive producer; conquering the challenges of each field with the same scathing with and steely determinism. Host and creator of no less than five eponymous television series —Chelsea Lately, The Chelsea Handler Show, Chelsea, Are You There, Chelsea?, and Chelsea, to be precise— the industrious Handler maintained a rigorous touring schedule, authored five books, and recorded fan-favorite comedy specials like Uganda be Kidding Me while somehow making time for political activism, philanthropy, and advocacy for the LGBTQ community. Handler's current tour takes its title and world-weary vibe from her book Life Will Be The Death of Me... and you too!, a hilarious yet harrowing account of the comedian's weed and psychology-fueled emotional epiphanies. Find tickets, $69.50-$114.50, and further details on the Paramount Theatre's Altitude Tickets page. Admission also includes a copy of Handler's latest book.

Pump and Dump 7th Annual Mother’s Day Eve Show & Dance Party
Saturday, May 11, 7:30 p.m.
Paramount Theatre
$29 - $45

The sentiments behind Mother's Day are well intentioned, but moms deserve much more than an over commercialized annual tribute. Moms are overworked, underappreciated, and more in need of a good laugh than just about anyone, and that's precisely where the Pump and Dump Show comes in. Created and co-hosted by comedians/ songwriters Shayna Ferm and MC Doula (aka Tracey Tee), the show evolved from entertaining small but lively crowds of neighborhood moms at Northside bars to a phenomenon capable of selling out theaters nationwide. Ferm and Tee are returning to the Paramount Theatre for the Seventh Annual Pump and Dump Mother’s Day Eve Show and Dance Party, a child free evening of cathartically profane comedy. Head over to the Paramount Theatre's Altitude Tickets page to buy tickets, $29 - $45, and learn more.

Fred Armisen
Tuesday, May 14, 8 p.m.
Boulder Theater
$30 - $35

Before securing his place in the sketch comedy pantheon during his eleven seasons in the cast of Saturday Night Live, Fred Armisen was an accomplished veteran of the post hardcore quartet Trenchmouth and onetime drummer for the Blue Man Group. Following his SNL tenure, Armisen and Sleater Kinney's Carrie Brownstein co-created another sketch comedy classic with Portlandia!, a loving satire of Portlander follies grounded in the specific observations only years in the indie rock trenches can provide. While fans can currently catch Armisen onscreen in Documentary Now! and as the bandleader for the Late Night with Seth Meyers 8G Band, they can also see him perform in person when he and fellow sketch comedy legend Mary Lynn Rajskub alight upon the Boulder Theater with Comedy For Musicians But Everyone is Welcome. Admission costs $30 - $35 via Boulder Theater's Ticketfly page.

Comedians' Power Hour: Adam Cayton-Holland vs Caleb Synan
Thursday, May 16, 8 p.m.
Bohemian Biergarten
$15

Standup comedy and self-injurious binge drinking unite in alcoholic harmony at Comedians' Power Hour, a shot-for-shot, joke-for-joke showdown for the title of champion. May's edition, which also continues the Boulder Comedy Show's monthlong six year anniversary celebrations, pits hometown hero Adam Cayton-Holland against rising Los Angeles-based comedian Caleb Synan (Conan, Comedy Central Standup Presents) in a drunken battle of increasingly diminished wits. Hosted by Brett Hiker and refereed by Boulder Comedy Show creator Brent Gill, the chaos-courting contest is sure to favor the most altitude-adjusted comedian. Click over to Bohemian Biergarten's Eventbrite page to buy tickets, $15, and find out more.

JB Smoove
May 17 - 18, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
Denver Improv
$30

Comedian, actor, and purveyor of butt-related wisdom JB Smoove may began his singular via the traditional route of a breakout appearance on Def Comedy Jam, but there's nothing traditional about the heights of absurdity he achieves these days. An accomplished standup with a long list of credits, Smoove became an unlikely fan-favorite character on Curb Your Enthusiasm, capable of making the long-running series' improvisational rhythms move to his own beat and stealing each episode in which he appears. After his star-making performance on Larry David's paean to social awkwardness, Smoove has been a ubiquitous presence on screens both large and small, hosting the 2014 season of Last Comic Standing and turning up in movies like Top Five, The Polka King, and the upcoming Spiderman: Far From Home. Find tickets, $30, and further details on the Denver Improv box office page.

Trevor Noah
Sunday, May 19, 7 p.m.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
$59.75 - $125

Live from Morrison, Colorado, it's the May-ly show with Trevor Noah! Five years into his tenure as host of The Daily Show, it's difficult to imagine the contemporary political comedy landscape without Noah's cheerfully bemused reactions to the news of the day. In addition to maintaining a four-days-a-week production schedule on the popular series, Noah is a highly prolific standup with a prolific touring schedule and eight one hour specials, including 2018's Son of Patricia. The South Africa-born comedian may not make sense of today's sense of today's chaotic world —no one can— but he sure as hell can make you laugh. Don't miss out rolls through Colorado with a fresh hour of material; visit the Red Rocks Amphitheatre box office page to buy tickets, $59.75 - $125, and learn more. 

Hannah Gadsby
Wednesday, May 22, 7:30 p.m.
Paramount Theatre
$39.75-$59.75

Is it possible for a standup comedy special to be so revelatory that it compels viewers to interrogate the very idea of comedy? Your answer may depend on whether or not you've seen Hannah Gadsby's Nannette. Characterized by fearlessly honest soul-searching, masterfully extended metaphors, heartbreaking stories, and a sneaky supply of solid punchlines, the special launched the Australian comedian to international fame and prompted some serious self-examination about the obscured truths and unintended targets of jokes. Luckily, despite her numerous protestations to the contrary, Gadsby has not in fact quit performing standup, and she'll be winding her way through Denver on an international tour in support her latest hour Douglas. Don't wait for Gadbsy's new material to stream into your living room; visit the Paramount Theatre's Altitude Tickets page to get tickets, $39.75-$59.75, and more information.

Hari Kondabolu
May 23 - 25, Showtimes Vary
Comedy Works Downtown
$18 - $26

"My standup isn't for everyone" admits Hari Kondabolu during the first few minutes of his special Warn Your Relatives, before concluding "that's why it's good." The New York-based comedian, writer, and podcaster may have singular sensibilities, but if the sell-out crowds at Kondabolu's last Comedy Works engagement are any indication, legions of comedy nerds agree with his assessment. A former writer and correspondent on the short-lived yet profoundly influential Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, Kondabolu has subsequently appeared Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up Show, and recorded two albums, along with the aforementioned special. Recently, he made a foray into documentary filmmaking with The Problem with Apu, sparking an overdue cultural conversation about ethnic stereotypes and accurate representation. Kondabolu's back in town with a fresh batch of jokes, so hurry over to Comedy Works' box office page for tickets, $18 - $26, and further details. 

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