As their High Plains Comedy Festival hangovers fade, local comedy fans must look to the future after a game-changing August. Ironically, what lies ahead this month is firmly rooted in the past. We've got '90s sitcom stars, a slate of road-dog headliners, and two Saturday Night Live alums coming to Comedy Works -- one of whom is often still quite funny, and one of whom is Jon Lovitz.The main event however, is the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival, studded by a rare headlining set from the reclusive Dave Chappelle.
10) Kevin Nealon Although Kevin Nealon will always be remembered as Saturday Night Live's drollest Weekend Update anchor, and from the TV show Weeds, where his character proved so integral that he stuck around longer than was narratively plausible. Throughout his performing career, Nealon has been crafting his absurdist standup act on the road, collecting some of his best bits last year for the awesomely titled comedy album,Whelmed But Not Overly. A Comedy Works regular, Nealon will be peddling his wise-crackery at the South Club in Greenwood Village.
Friday, September 6, and Saturday, September 7, with shows at 8 and 10 p.m. both nights at the Comedy Works South.
9) Paul Rodriguez Paul Rodriguez is a bi-lingual comedy sensation, enjoying consecutive decades as one of comedy's top-draws. Rodriguez has also amassed quite a résumé of film and TV performances, cultivating a level of audience loyalty that belies the need for much promotion. Rodriguez's comedy bona fides are long-established so he should have no trouble attracting fans to the Denver Improv, despite stiff competition from other headliners in town for the same weekend. It should be noted that Rodriguez owns three chihuahuas, dogs that are as aesthetically comical as they are loyal and affectionate. For some reason, that endearing factoid from his bio that makes him seem more trustworthy. You can trust a guy with three chihuahuas.
Friday through Sunday, September 6-8 at the Denver Improv. The early shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and the late show beings at 9:45.
8) The Clean Guys of Comedy featuring Jamie Kennedy and Dave Coulier Holy '90s! Nostalgia seems to be the main draw of the Clean Guys of Comedy tour, which makes a stop the the Temple Buell Theater on September 19. Jamie Kennedy is listed as the headliner on the events page, but it's difficult to believe he's the real draw here. Dave Coulier is an icon and cool-uncle surrogate to a generation of Full House fans while all people remember about Jamie Kennedy is that he gets stabbed real good in Scream 2.
6:30 p.m., September 19 at the Temple Buell Theater. Tickets are $29.50.
7) Sheryl Underwood Sheryl Underwood, who is best known as a co-host of CBS' The Talk, as well as a cast member and the go-to guest host on the nationally syndicated radio program, the Steve Harvey Morning Show, has been honing her craft for years. Underwood's brassy stage presence and comedic chops help convey her often controversial statements and beliefs. Underwood will be bringing her politically-charged humor to the Denver Improv.
Friday and Saturday, September 13-14 at the Denver Improv. Showtimes are 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. each night.
6) Troy Baxley Troy Baxley is a Denver comedy legend. As the original host of the Lion's Lair open mic, he witnessed the first timid sets of an entire generation of local crushers. The sing-songy rhythm of Baxley's hypnagogic and often willfully offensive jokes is still detectable in the cadences of comedians he's influenced. While his admirers often wonder why a comedian of Baxley's caliber remains relatively unknown outside of Denver, local comedy fans should consider themselves lucky that he remains in our midst.
Sunday, September 15, 7 p.m., at Comedy Works downtown.
5) Text-A-Saurus Comedy shows typically adhere to a pretty standard rotating showcase format, probably because it's an ideal setting to present well-rehearsed material to a crowd primed for laughs. With Text-A-Saurus, however, Comedian Deacon Gray has inverted that paradigm, inviting audience participation and forcing comedians to improvise joke on the spot, sweating under the stage lights of the Bug Theater. While the use of phones is strictly verboten at almost any other comedy show, at Text-A-Saurus, the audience is encouraged to submit joke topics via text message. This month, Denver bruisers Jordan Doll and Aaron Urist will be riffing in the company of a surprise out of town guest.
Monday, September 2 at the Bug Theatre.
4) Mike Birbiglia: Working it Out!
Mike Birbiglia is the only thing NPR listeners like more than world music and quirky human interest stories expressed in a gentle whisper. Perhaps because of his cool older-brother vibe or the confessional nature of his standup, Birbiglia's audience seem to connect with him on a personal level that typical comedians will never reach.
Shows are September 5-7 at 8 p.m., with an additional 10 p.m. show on Friday and Saturday, at Comedy Works downtown.
3) Megan Mullally Live in Concert!
Though she's still best known for her role on the hit '90s sitcom Will and Grace, Megan Mullally has spent the subsequent years endearing herself to comedy nerds with a string of hilarious roles on shows like Children's Hospital and the late, lamented Party Down. What even her closest fans might not realize is that the multi-talented Mullally also has a killer set of pipes. She'll bring all of her skills, along with her husband and fellow comedy nerd hero Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation, to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Potential attendees who may be put off by the ticket prices can take comfort knowing that portion of the show's proceeds are funding the Megan Mullally/Nick Offerman Award, a scholarship for economically disadvantaged performing arts students at the University of Colorado at Denver. While the event itself hews closer to a sing-along variety show format than an evening of straight-up comedy, fans of this Hollywood power couple can expect to laugh heartily and often.
Saturday, September 7, at 8 p.m., at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Call 866-464-2626 for tickets, which are $35-$95.
2) Bill Burr Bill Burr has achieved mainstream success while remaining a respected comic -- a rare feat -- due to his painfully sharp observations and fearless stage presence. He excels at mining difficult subjects for hilarity and berating audiences into understanding his surprisingly nuanced perspective. He's also pretty great in his recurring role as one of Saul Goodman's thugs on Breaking Bad. Denverites will have to schlep up to Boulder or down to Colorado Springs to see him, but a comedian of Burr's singular talent is worth the drive.
Wednesday, September 4 at the Boulder Theater. Doors open for the sold-out early show at 6:30 p.m. and at 9:30 for the late show. Tickets are $32.50 for reserved seating. Burr will also be performing in Colorado Springs on September 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Center.
1) Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival Clearly the hot ticket of the month, the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival has a lineup so stacked that it almost seems greedy. Kristen Schaal, Al Madrigal, Brody Stevens, and Hannibal Buress are well-seasoned pros -- all equally capable of crushing a high-profile headlining set -- but they're just the opening act here. Troubadour parodists the Flight of the Conchords may have kept quiet in recent years, but their particular act is ideal for a setting like Fiddler's Green. Oddball's real coup de grâce, however, was booking Dave Chappelle who, despite early reports that he appears rusty and has admitted to stretching eleven minutes of material across 45-minute sets, is nevertheless worth seeing. He's one of our generation's great comedic minds.
Friday, September 13, at 5 p.m., at Fiddler's Green. Ticket prices range from $24 to $89.50.
Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.