Updated: Since this post was originally published, Tracy Morgan -- who performed a show in Denver June 1 -- was injured in an auto accident.
As summer approaches at its leisurely, flip-flopped gait, comedy fans have a full calendar of laugh appointments ahead. While almost nothing can compete with the natural splendor of a languid June evening spent outdoors in Denver, only a jejune goon would miss out on these fine shows. Besides, at a comedy club you're significantly less likely to accidentally drink the moth that flew into your beer. From stars of stage and screen gracing local venues to a showcase that actually encourages comments from the audience, comedy nerds will be drawn to these events like an eclipse of moths to an outdoor light bulb.
It's important to note that a lot can happen in a month, and national headliners often have to reschedule long after press time, so dates are subject to change (which happened last month with Bobcat Goldthwait). Regardless, there's plenty of live comedy in June that's guaranteed assuage your melancholy, and reduce you chances of discovering the unmistakable taste of foamy moth.
10) The One-Liner Show Friday, June6 Voodoo Comedy Playhouse
The tradition of one-liner comedians includes such luminaries as Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg. A good one-liner requires the precision of a haiku and the timing of a metronome. James Gold has dedicated a monthly showcase to the lost art of the micro-joke, challenging local comedians to string together an entire five-minute set of one-liners -- and inviting the audience to crown a winner. One-liner jokes take mere seconds to complete, so in this context, five minutes is much longer than it may seem. The June lineup includes Gold, contestants Joshua Skillman, Timmi Lasley, Cory Rhoads and Haley Driscoll, as well as headliner Tim Messenger.
The show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are $5 at the door. Pre-sale tickets cost $3 at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse website.
9) Father's Day Pump & Dump Saturday, June 14 Hard Rock Cafe
Shayna Ferm and MC Doula are joined by Grawlix fathers Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy in a special Father's Day edition of their Pump & Dump showcases featuring new songs, guffaws aplenty and all the cathartic boozing you expect from these typically mom-centric shows, only this time geared toward the dads -- who are affectionately referred to as "mother-fuckers" in Pump & Dump's surprisingly dense internal lexicon. A ticket for your own father would be a great gift, even though what he really wants is for you to do him proud for goddamn once.
Tickets cost $15 for balcony seats, $20 for general main floor seats, and $30 for VIP, which includes preferential seating and a pre-show cocktail reception. Check the Pump & Dump website to buy tickets.
8) Making Fun Thursday, June 26 Deer Pile
In most cases, comedy audience membership is a spectator sport. Unbidden participation in a standup set inspires enmity at best; at worst, it makes your face a target for tossed drinks and fists. At Making Fun, however, feedback from the crowd is built into the show's format. The brainchild of comedic power duo Christie Buchele and Kristin Rand, Making Fun gives each comic who performs a three-minute set before audience members get to write in tags for jokes or zing the comics and have the funniest lines projected onto a screen behind the comedian onstage. This month features local crushers Aaron Urist, Haley Driscoll, Matthews Monroe and Wayman, plus a secret special guest.
The show begins at 8 p.m. It's free, but donations are suggested.
7) Chuck Roy presents Daddy's Day Sunday, June 15 Voodoo Comedy Playhouse
Chuck Roy's idea of a perfect day for "Daddy" is undoubtedly too raunchy for any Hallmark card. Continuing his longstanding tradition of ringing in the holidays with dirty jokes, Roy has two consecutive shows scheduled on Father's Day, which gladly no longer shares a date with PrideFest. The first show, Comedy Radio Theater, is an old-school radio play punctuated by standup sets from Matt Need, Mona Lott, Bradley Haltom and Jordan Wieleba. In the second show, 5 New Jokes, the same comics will compete to see who can generate the best extemporaneous joke.
Comedy Radio Theater begins at 7 p.m. and 5 New Jokes at 8:15 p.m. Tickets to each show cost $10 at the door. Pre-sale tickets are $8 each or $12 for both shows and available on the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse website. Keep reading for more of the best comedy events in Denver.
6) Sexpot in the City with Women Comedy Saturday, June 21 Oriental Theater
Allen Strickland Williams, Jake Weisman, Dave Ross and Pat Bishop are all standup comedians, but together they are Women. We should specify here that Women is the name of their sketch-comedy group and there are no Ranma 1/2 -type shenanigans afoot. Primarily based in video, their sketches are nibbles of absurdity dolloped by grim punchlines. The show, hosted as always by Jordan Doll, features standup from each member, as well as videos and live sketches. It's also a Sexpot show, with all the dab dabbling that implies.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets, 21+, are $15 on the Oriental Theater website.
5)The GrawlixFriday, June 27The Bug Theatre
The monthly Grawlix showcase at the Bug Theater hardly needs press these days, but every now and again even perennial winners deserve their share of heraldry. And lo, will Denver comedy nerds raise their laugh trumpets when Matt Braunger takes the stage. Recently seen wearing a bowtie on@Midnight, Braunger is a singular talent whose Comedy Central special Shovel Fighter lives up to its delightful title. The remainder of the lineup is yet to be determined. Follow the Grawlix on twitter @GrawlixComedy for updates.
On June 5, former Westword scribe Adam Cayton-Holland is headlining at Comedy Works; the increasingly busy Grawlix will also appear on June 6 at the Oriental on the Comics vs. Civility showcase, and the following day Cayton-Holland and Roy will perform with Kitty Crimes at Dram Apothecary in Silver Plume. That show begins at 10:30 p.m.Tickets cost $10 at the door -- cash only.
4) Arj Barker June 19-21 Comedy Works Larimer Square
Though born and raised in the United States, Arj Barker is much more famous overseas (particularly in Australia) than he is at home. Most widely recognized for his role on Flight of the Conchords, Barker has also appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and Real Time with Bill Maher. Barker plays to sold-out arenas in other countries, but he's a documented fan of Colorado's unofficial state flower. If his performances with Doug Benson on their Marijuana-logues show are any indication, then Barker's in for an indica vacation.
Tickets cost $20 for the Thursday night show and $25 for the weekend shows on the Comedy Works website. Keep reading for three more of the best comedy shows in June.
3) Baron Vaughn June 5-8 Denver Improv
Easily the most nattily attired comedian listed here (or anywhere, for that matter) Baron Vaughn's innate sense of style extends to his poised stage presence. Having recently turned in strong performances on Comedy Central's @Midnight and Conan, Vaughn released his album Raised by Cable in 2011. A classically trained actor, he has a recurring role on USA's Fairly Legal and scores the first big laugh in the instant cult classic Black Dynamite.
Shows begin at 7:30 p.m., with additional late shows at 9:45 p.m. on the weekend. Tickets cost $17 and can be purchased on the Improv's website.
3) Paul Reiser June 20-21 Comedy Works South
To anyone who grew up watching too much basic cable in the '80s and '90s, the sight of Paul Reiser cracking wise is comfortingly familiar. Whether on contemporary classics like Aliens and Diner or the long-running and widely syndicated sitcom Mad About You, chances are good that Reiser's face is on a television somewhere at this exact moment. In addition to his prominent role in the Sundance Film Festival darling Whiplash, Reiser recently returned to standup comedy after a years-long hiatus. (Check this blog later in the month for a full interview with Reiser.)
Shows begin at 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. both nights. Tickets cost $30 and are available from the Comedy Works website.
Sunday, June 1Paramount Theater
Hot on the heels of his recent Comedy Central special Bona Fide, entertainer and comic force of id Tracy Morgan kicks off a hot month of comedy in Denver this June. Best known as the the star of 30 Rock, creator of indelible Saturday Night Live sketches and a live-wire standup who's inspired controversy with his remarks, Morgan is a masterful conductor of bathos. With his FXX comedy Death Pact set to premiere in the fall, there's no time like the present to see Morgan perform live.
The show begins at 8 p.m. and ticket prices vary; they're available from the Paramount box office website.
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Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.