While last week's High Plains Comedy Festival was a tightly run ship that set sail to introduce the world to the Denver comedy scene, this weekend's Too Much Funstival was a sloppy drunken kiss on the lips to this city's funny fans, an incredibly loose bacchanal of free food, booze, entertainment, and a bouncy castle.
In the interviews conducted for last month's cover story on the Fine Gentleman's Club, the comedians repeatedly stated that they and their sponsors raised the Funstival funds in order to present a free gift to those who have supported their shows. And without a doubt, this years TMF was a gift that kept on giving, and giving, and giving, until you eventually found yourself doubled over on a public sidewalk, jackpotting their free amenities onto the pavement, before laying down with a smile on your face as passersby listened to you mumble the only syllable you could muster: "fun."
A bit of tropical weather and sultry heat would've been preferable for the TMF kickoff party at TAXI Pool, instead of the grey skies and chilly breeze we were left with. But the live music of Wheelchair Sports Camp, Pizza Time and SAUNA, along with the endless amounts of free beer, was plenty of motivation for the couple dozen brave souls who leaped into the boxcar-converted pool -- which was surprisingly warm. After closing out their set with a cover of The Troggs "A Girl Like You," Pizza Time singer David Castillo split the sea of drunken swimmers with a cannon ball leap from the stage into the pool.
The debut evening of TMF was also facing off against a plethora of similar comedy gatherings, with Grawlix at The Bug Theater, Moxie! at Voodoo, and Bret Ernst headlining Comedy Works all that same Friday night. While a decent crowd had gathered at TAXI to enjoy the music, bouncy castle, and "beach-blanket bong-off" -- and then later at Matchbox for Tjutjuna and The Bald Eagles -- the lack of an overwhelming attendance spoke to the desire of many scenesters for a hearty comedy show over a live music throwdown.
Though since The Fine Gentleman's Club weren't selling tickets and originally planned this year's Funstival as a chaotic tribute to the comedy scene, I'm sure they didn't lose any sleep over the first night's middling attendance numbers.
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Considering the late hours and excessive indulgences of Friday night, it was surprising to see day two of Funstival begin at the relatively early hour of noon in Curtis Park. Though the free food from Sexy Pizza and Noodles and Co., along with the inevitable stock of help-yourself beer, perked up the crowd of comics and fans hanging out in the sun. This was enough to rouse a few dozen funsters to burn off their carbs with the rotation of flag-football, kickball and dodgeball that ate up the afternoon in the park -- while large sections of the more athletically nihilistic crowd chose instead to keep busy under the shady trees, making sure there was no food or marijuana going neglected that day.
The feeling of mass reverie that has come to be associated with Fine Gentleman's Club reached its characteristically communal heights with Saturday night's comedy show at the Meadowlark. The back patio was delightfully packed for an end-of-summer evening, making Bobby's announcement that theirs was the only event of the season that Meadowlark had used the space for a baffling confession.
Entering the stage to gracious bursts of applause from the crowd, three members of the Fine Gentleman's Club were looking somewhat worse for wear after the last thirty hours of reverie.
"I opted out of taking drugs today," Bobby Crane proudly announced, appearing noticeably fresher than his comedy compatriots.
"I opted out of three hours today," replied Sam Tallent.
While High Plains Comedy Festival may have been more heavily attended and coherently organized, this year's Too Much Funstival was a greater delight when it came to the performances of local comics like Jim Hickox, Jordan Doll, Adam Cayton-Holland and Troy Walker, who mixed up their familiar sets with several new jokes.
While hearing their polished A-material week after week rarely stops much of the comedy audience from going out to shows, the challenge that each comedian clearly felt to bringing their best, unheard stories and jokes to Saturday night's event, spoke to the theme of communal gift-giving of the whole Too Much Funstival weekend.
It was a Comedy Christmas in Denver, and now that it's over everyone can go back to bickering about not getting on a show, who's sleeping with who, and which comic is the biggest Louis C.K. ripoff.
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For more comedy commentary, follow me on Twitter at @JosiahMHesse.