Arts and Culture

Laugh It Up at Denver's Ten Best Comedy Shows in February

Brian Regan kicks off a funny February with a string of Colorado shows.
Brian Regan kicks off a funny February with a string of Colorado shows. Friedman Bergman
February may be short on days – even during a leap year – but it's long on laughs, as some of the funniest people in the country wind through Colorado. From clubs and breweries to massive theater auditoriums, Denver (along with the rest of the state) is buzzing with comedic talent. Enjoy returning favorites Brian Regan and George Lopez, newly minted stars like Michelle Wolf and Matteo Lane, and nerd-friendly live editions of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Dollop podcast. No matter which funny you fancy, let this list be your guide to chortling through the next 29 days. Keep reading for the ten best comedy shows in Colorado this February.

Brian Regan
February 7 to 8, 7:30 and 9 p.m.
Paramount Theatre
$49.75 to $75

An affable goof with cross-cultural and inter-generational appeal, Brian Regan is the rare comic's comic who can entertain grandparents and children alike. Specializing in self-deprecating jokes that speak directly to the hapless buffoon hidden inside us all, Regan sells his keenly crafted observational jokes with full-bodied physicality, embracing his own foolishness and bemusement with the intensity of a hearty bear hug. Currently appearing on the recovery-focused sitcom Loudermilk and Netflix's standup/sketch mashup Standup and Away With Brian Regan, the astoundingly prolific comedian is back on the road with a fresh hour-plus of new material to follow his latest special Nunchucks and Flamethrowers — which was filmed in Denver's own Paramount Theatre. Regan returns to the Paramount from February 7 to 8, part of a statewide smattering of appearances that include dates at Colorado Springs' Pikes Peak Center on February 6, Beaver Creek's Vilar Performing Arts Center on February 9, and Aspen's Belly Up on February 10. Visit Ticketmaster to reserve seats and find out more.

Tony Rock
February 7 to 9, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
Denver Improv

Embarking on a career in standup comedy isn't easy. But forging your own career path when your older brother is one of the most universally acclaimed comics of all time is a unique challenge that Chris Rock's kid brother, Tony Rock, has surmounted with panache. After turning in a series of standout performances on shows like Live at the Apollo — a show he went on to host for B.E.T. — Comedy Central Presents and All Def Comedy, Rock landed a prominent role in the blockbuster film Think Like a Man and assumed emcee duties on The Game of Dating. He returns to Denver Improv for five raucous shows that prove talent does indeed run in the family.

Ratio Comedy Presents: Chris Fairbanks
Wednesday, February 12, 8 p.m.
Ratio Beerworks

Celebrate five years of quaffs and laughs at the fifth anniversary of Ratio Beerworks, one of Denver comedy's most-supportive breweries. Launch into a long weekend of hops and hurrahs with a special Ratio Comedy presentation of Chris Fairbanks, a High Plains Comedy Festival favorite who has appeared on Conan, Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Hosted by local mirth-mongers Matt Cobos and Patrick Richardson, the lineup includes all of Ratio Comedy's regular hosts, Andrew Bueno, Lizzy Wolfson, and Elliot Broder, along with headlining performances from Zach Reinert and Christie Buchele. As always, admission to Ratio Comedy shows is free, no reservations are required, and guests will be seated on a first-come-first-served basis. Check out Ratio Beerworks' Facebook events page for more information. Can't make it out on a Wednesday night? Fairbanks will also headline two Denver Comedy Underground shows at the Irish Snug on Saturday, February 15.

click to enlarge FROM THE HIP PHOTO
From the Hip Photo
Mortified Live: Doomed Valentine's
Thursday, February 13, 8 p.m.
Oriental Theater
$16 to $20

If the programmatic flowers-and-fancy-dinners paradigm of Valentine's Day leaves you colder than a mid-February dawn, Mortified Live is your ideal source for holiday counter-programming. Producer David Blatt spearheads the Mile High edition of the nationwide live phenomenon and Netflix hit, wherein storytellers share the shameful handwritten detritus of their adolescent years. From erstwhile private journal entries to love letters and painfully earnest poetry, Mortified mines our shared pubescent fears for irony-addled adult catharsis. Featured on This American Life and The Today Show, Mortified unites speaker and spectator alike in gratitude that our most embarrassing years are blessedly — and hopefully — behind us. Comfortable daters and avowed singletons alike can kick off (or ignore) this high-pressure holiday, when Mortified Live returns on Thursday, February 13. Admission is $16 in advance and $20 day of the show; find tickets and further details at the Oriental Theater website.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live
Saturday, February 15, 7 p.m.
Buell Theatre
$39 to $79

Hark! Snark in the dark, courtesy of wise-cracking robots and their unwillingly space-bound human companion, is the often-imitated but never-duplicated métier of Mystery Science Theater 3000. A program that initially began as a lark on Minnesota public access television, MST3K — the abbreviation of choice for the show's fervent and early-adopting internet fan base — creator Joel Hodgson's movie-mocking brainchild became a formative early hit for Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi channel, an unfortunately cancelled Netflix reboot, and a Thanksgiving Day marathon mainstay. Join Hodgson, Crow and Tom Servo when the Satellite of Love touches down in Denver as part of “The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour,” a joke-filled jaunt through some of the most ridicule-worthy chapters in cinematic history. Visit the Denver Center box-office page to buy tickets, $39 to $79, and learn more.

Michelle Wolf
February 18 to 22, showtimes vary
Comedy Works Downtown

Earning national headlines for a divisive — or hilarious, depending on one's perspective — headlining set at the formerly prestigious White House Correspondents Dinner, Michelle Wolf spoke truth to the lackeys cowering in power (President Trump pointedly did not attend), delivering a set so scorching that the following year's ceremonies eschewed comedy altogether in favor of a keynote address from historian Ron Chernow. While Wolf's performance remains a rare example of bursting the partisan beltway bubble with razor-sharp jokes, the full scope of her triumphs stretches far beyond her breakout moment. A former Daily Show correspondent and host of the regrettably short-lived The Break With Michelle Wolf, she has delivered a pair of gut-busting one-hour specials, HBO's Nice Lady and Netflix's Joke Show, and she's currently hitting the road with a fresh new hour. Five out of Wolf's seven local shows have sold out as of press time; hurry over to the Comedy Works website for tickets, $37, and more information.

Tenth Annual Aspen Laugh Festival
February 18 to 22, showtimes vary
Wheeler Opera House and associated venues
$30 to $50

The tony ski town of Aspen has proved to be an unlikely springboard for comedy careers for decades, yet the Aspen Laugh Festival got off to a rocky start. Founded under the wackier (and hackier) mantle of the Aspen Laff Festival, the fest floundered in obscurity for its first few years before a decision to go local and embrace exciting new talents re-invigorated the annual gathering of goofs. Celebrate ten years of slopeside comedy when the festival marks its tenth anniversary with one of its greatest editions yet. While the marquee showcases from seasoned festival vets like Norm MacDonald and Trevor Noah sold out some time ago, major headliners are only a small component of the festival's charm. Delights abound on the margins of the festival as well, along with performances from Second City's venerable touring improv troupe, international superstar Vir Das, a triple bill with Taylor Tomlinson, Adam Ray and Dusty Slay, and a spotlight set for Colorado's own Nancy Norton – a local favorite who recently claimed national victories at the Seattle International Comedy Competition and the Boston Comedy Festival. 
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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