Make a New Year's resolution that requires no sit-ups or dietary sacrifice to keep, and commit to laughing more in 2019. A boon to the spirit, not to mention the abs, comedy is a vital source of catharsis from the rigors of modern life. From a massive crop of brand-new jokes to lucha libre wrestling matches and benedictions from comedic royalty like Wanda Sykes, Denver is putting its funniest foot forward this January, and readers can find all the details they need to chuckle along below. Start the new year off with a laugh, and keep the giggles going at the ten best comedy shows of the month.
Lucha Libre & Laughs: Being and Nothingness
Friday, January 4, 8 p.m.
Lucha Libre & Laughs continues its brawny campaign of comedic excellence into 2019 with "Being and Nothingness," an evening of standup and wrestling guaranteed to pummel existential despair. Unlike its namesake, Jean-Paul Sartre's treatise, January's edition of Lucha Libre & Laughs is filled with exciting bouts between Allie Gato and Ruby Raze, Filter and Dakota Draper, and a fatal four-way match between Adrian Matthews, Anaya, Caleb Crush and current championship belt-wearer "Yoga Monster" Mike Sydal. Local comedians Mitch Jones, Geoff Tice, Rick Bryan and headliner Nancy Norton will also be on deck to tickle the audience's ribs between rounds of choreographed bloodsport. Find tickets, $15 each and $60 per five-pack, and more information on the Oriental Theater box-office page.
50 First Jokes
Saturday, January 5, 8 p.m.
A new year calls for new material, a tradition that thrives in Denver thanks to 50 First Jokes, which returns in 2019 for its fifth anniversary. A challenge to fifty of the city's best comics to test out their first joke of the new year — which must be written after the stroke of midnight on January 1 and never told prior to showtime — the show inspires performers to test the limits of their creative imaginations and rewards local comedy fans with a gauntlet of fresh bits. Born of the spirit of invention, the show began in New York City and was quickly franchised nationwide. Apart from returning host Timmi Lasley, the full lineup has yet to be announced, but the Bug Theatre is expected to sell out in short order regardless, so don't hesitate. Visit Dual Brain Productions' Nightout page for tickets, $15, and more details.
Cinema Twain with Val Kilmer
Sunday, January 6, 7:30 p.m.
$35 to $80
History dons a dapper white suit and springs to life at Citizen Twain, a one-man show about the great American novelist created by and starring Val Kilmer. Barely recognizable beneath a shock of white hair and a paintbrush mustache, Kilmer fully transforms into the image of Mark Twain, capturing not only the look, but the timeless spirit of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn author. After a sold-out run in a Los Angeles playhouse, Kilmer is touring the country with a filmed version of the play, dubbed Cinema Twain, whose screening is followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. The tour will roll through Denver the first weekend of January (an October 14 screening was rescheduled after "unforeseen family obligations" forced Kilmer to cancel). Tickets are $35 for general admission and $80 for VIP passes, which include early seating and a meet-and-greet and photo opportunity with Kilmer. Visit the Oriental Theater box-office page to learn more.
January 9 to 10
Comedy Works Downtown and Comedy Works South
While his long-abandoned former stage name, "Hippieman," certainly evoked John Novosad's wild-eyed and woolly-haired appearance, the one-note moniker did a disservice to the brilliance of his comedy. Puncturing the mundanity of politics and everyday life with delightful tidbits of absurdity doled out in perfectly timed increments, Novosad is a treasure of the Colorado comedy scene. He's appeared on Comedy.TV and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, and recently won the annual standup competition at the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival in Atlanta. Join Novosad for a pair of mid-week performances at both the downtown and Denver Tech Center branches of his home club. Visit the Comedy Works box-office page for tickets, $14, and more information.
January 11 to 12, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
$30 to $50
Deon Cole's comedy career originated with a $50 bet with a friend who didn't believe he'd have the nerve to take the stage, and it's been paying dividends ever since. Rising to national prominence thanks to a recurring fan-favorite segment on Conan, where he served on the writing staff, Cole has subsequently appeared in every film of the Barbershop franchise and landed regular roles on Black-ish (along with its spinoff series Grown-ish), and Angie Tribeca. Cole is performing in Stapleton at a weekend-long headlining engagement at the Denver Improv. Find tickets, $30 to $50, and more details on the venue's box-office page.
Thursday, January 17, 7:30 p.m.
The trials of singlehood may feel like a lonely endeavor, but the Singleing podcast is here to help shoulder the burden of finding love. Hosted by Vanessa Valerio, the podcast has been touring the country in search of stories and solidarity from comedians, podcasters and regular people navigating the increasingly murky waters of modern dating. The Singleing Live tour winds its way through Denver with a lineup that includes Moth regulars Beth Bradley and Kevin Carlin, comedians Kenny Beahm and Christie Buchele, and Cat Jaffee from the House of Pod, with a special appearance from dating coach and A Little Nudge founder Erika Ettin. Visit Buntport Theater's Eventbrite page to buy tickets, $14, and learn more.
Mile High Movie Roast Presents Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Friday January 18, 7:40 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse Littleton
Making fun at the movies since 2006, Harrison Rains's Mile High Movie Roast offers up a monthly serving of feature-length foolery. The live-riffing screening series continues into 2019 with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a deeply silly film that proves that not even the on-screen charisma of Angelina Jolie can surmount the folly of adapting video games into cinema. The quick-witted and slow-footed Nathan Lund joins Rains on the mic for another round of Mystery Science Theater 3000-style mockery of terrible movies. Buy tickets, $12.50, and discover more details on the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema box-office page.
Wanda Sykes: Oh, Well Tour
Friday, January 25, 7:30 p.m.
$39.50 to $69.50
Following an unlikely career path from the National Security Agency to the standup stage, Wanda Sykes has gleefully courted controversy over the course of an illustrious career. After catching an early break as a writer, producer and performer on The Chris Rock Show, Sykes went on to appear in Pootie Tang, Evan Almighty and Curb Your Enthusiasm and to lend her inimitable voice to animated works like the Over the Hedge, Rio, the Ice Age series and the upcoming UglyDolls. She's also recorded a number of landmark specials, including but by no means limited to I'ma Be Me, Sick and Tired, and her most recent effort, 2016's What Happened... Ms. Sykes? Sykes hits the Mile High with a fresh and fiery new hour as the Oh, Well tour descends upon the Paramount Theatre with another gauntlet of gutbusters. Tickets are $39.50 to $69.50 at Altitude Tickets; visit Wanda Sykes's home page to find out more.
Middleditch and Schwartz
Saturday, January 26, 7 p.m.
$29.50 to $39.50
Habitual sitcom viewers are likely to recognize Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz from their respective roles on Silicon Valley and Parks and Recreation, but only deep-cut comedy nerds know that the duo are masters of long-form improvisation who hail from the Upright Citizens Brigade theater. Guffaw along to extemporaneous scenes from the pair of quick-witted experts, when Middleditch and Schwartz continue the Paramount Theatre's weekend-long campaign of comedic devastation with an evening of improv expertise. Catch this rare performance while you can. These days the two are so busy that it can be hard to find them in the same space, as Middleditch appears in the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Schwartz's book, Things You Should Already Know About Dating, You Fucking Idiot — co-authored with Laura Moses — is being adapted for CBS. Tickets are $29.50 to $39.50 at Altitude Tickets, and more details are available on the Middleditch and Schwartz tour calendar.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
January 31 to February 2, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.
$35 to $65
The giggles spill over into February with a month-straddling headlining engagement from D.L. Hughley at the Denver Improv. A founding member of the Original Kings of Comedy quartet, Hughley has branched out from standup into acting (Soul Plane, Scary Movie 3, Inspector Gadget), game show host and contestant (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Dancing With the Stars, Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host) and political punditry, including an unfortunately short-lived tenure at the helm of CNN's D. L. Hughley Breaks the News. Hughley's never strayed far from the mic, however, and he's back in Denver with a brand new hour of jokes hot off the heels of his most recent special, 2018's Contrarian. Behold Hughley's unparalleled ability to smooth over objections with the balm of belly laughter; head over to the Denver Improv box-office page to buy tickets, $35 to $65, and learn more.
February Hot Ticket Alert! Adam Sandler: 100% Fresher
Tuesday, February 5, 8 p.m.
$49.50 to $250
Adam Sandler recently returned to live comedy with 100% Fresh, a mashup of the goofs and ditties that populated classic albums like They're All Gonna Laugh at You that culminates in an unexpectedly tear-jerking tribute to his late cast member Chris Farley. While the special is a few clicks away for Netflix subscribers, they shouldn't sleep on the opportunity to see "The Sandman" alight upon Denver next month with a refined reprise of the hour's funniest tunes and a few surprises. Visit the AXS Events box-office page to buy tickets and find out more.
Do you have an event you want included on one of our lists? Send the details to email@example.com.