Arts and Culture

The Ten Best Comedy Shows in Denver in May

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
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.

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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