Best Comedy Club 2015 | Comedy Works Downtown | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Comedy thrives in dark rooms with low ceilings. At Comedy Works' historic downtown location, the generally cocktail-besotted crowd is tightly packed into the venue's cozy showroom; once the lights darken, they become an anonymous mob freed from any sense of propriety. Kept satiated by tiptoeing waitstaff, otherwise reasonable people are reduced to giggling delirium by comedians drawn to what is fondly known by fans and professionals alike as one of the best clubs in the entire country. Recent headliners Hannibal Buress, Jim Norton and frequent surprise guest Dave Chappelle are only the start of the funny business at Comedy Works.

Keith Garcia

The Queerbots are giving a voice to gay comedy with their new monthly improv show at Hamburger Mary's — and proving that laughter is truly a great unifier. Using typical stereotypes, the all-gay group invites audiences to laugh at them and with them in order to demonstrate just how funny being human is.

Denver's exploding drag scene is teeming with a card deck's worth of queens hoofing and hot-assing all over town, but Janessa Befierce isn't taking a slow pony ride to the top; she's grabbing the reins of a stallion and racing it there. Seemingly in drag seven days a week, Befierce has worked out the kinks of her persona and delivers a polished performance on stages all over town.

Keith Garcia

Gone are the days of bingo halls filled with old ladies and church-like reverence. In today's game, you'll find that comedy, booze and laughter rule the night. Dolls With Balls at Hamburger Mary's is one of Denver's longest-running bingo games, where you'll find three vivacious vixens — Harley Quinn, Alexandra Winters and Victoria Sexton — dropping balls every Wednesday. Go ahead and invite Grandma — just make sure she's sufficiently liquored up.

The stage at Broadway's isn't the fanciest, but that makes it the perfect spot for a new queen to break in some heels and feel the rush of performance. The energy of these two Thursday-night shows is reminiscent of high school in the best ways: Experienced senior queen bees like Lala Leigh, Amber Domaine and Le'd Fatale pick their favorite underclassmen, then give them a platform on which to cut their teeth and earn their diplomas.

Keith Garcia

With every new season of RuPaul's Drag Race, Tracks hosts a series of viewing parties, and this year the spot will feature its own competition as well, in which a bevy of queens will submit to a sixteen-week boot camp of wigs, heels, makeup, sequins, and the tightest tucks this side of the Platte. The reward is a chance to join the cast of Tracks' own Drag Nation show, where blood, sweat and glitter-stained tears will be met with tough skin and fierce idolatry.

The beer may be cheap at Charlie's, but the performances aren't. Every Sunday, a cast of local legends and new faces turns the floor at Charlie's into a Xanadu of drag perfection. Mama hen Shanida Lawya and company treat raucous crowds to three numbers, complete with costume and makeup changes, and immerse themselves in the crowd. Don't be surprised if you wake up Monday morning with a big red lipstick kiss on your cheek.

It's no secret that Denver burlesque has helped put this cowtown on the map: The notable names who take over intimate stages all over the city also headline major festivals and receive accolades on the global burlesque scene. A case in point is Midnite Martini (aka Kim Townsend), the reigning Miss Exotic World, who earned her title as the Burlesque Hall of Fame's 2014 Queen of Burlesque in Las Vegas last June. The lovely Miss M wowed the judges with a routine that combined burlesque, aerial fabric and a ladder.

With a recent renovation that included the addition of an expansive front deck, this watering hole at 629 East Colfax solidified itself as the perfect spot for meeting up with pals and dishing all the recent gossip. The drinks are fast and cheap, natch, and the background music stays at just the right volume, so you can take in all the juicy details.

Readers' choice: Tracks

A feminine mystique definitely runs through every inch of this Colfax bar, which describes itself as "a unique drinkery." But in fact, the bar is only a part of what Blush & Blu has to offer. The welcoming community establishment spends its daytime hours as a coffeehouse and fills the rest of its time with a variety of events, including game nights, poetry, standup comedy, dance parties, karaoke, comic sex advice and even capoeira lessons.

Readers' choice: Hamburger Mary's

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