Don Becker Remembered by Friends...and Roseanne

Friends of Don Becker -- Denver’s favorite one-armed, bi-polar comic/poet/playwright who passed away this past May, whose story I told here -– gathered upstairs at the Mercury Café Sunday afternoon to celebrate their gifted pal. Drink tickets were handed out and, per Don’s request, the event had the festive air of a drunken get-together meant to remember the good times, rather than dwell on loss.

Dirty jokes were told, and friends and co-conspirators took the mike and read from Don’s many works, as a who’s who of Denver’s creative class over the past twenty years gathered to honor one of its pied pipers. It was a fitting send-off to a man who will truly be missed.

A less fitting send-off I recently came across, however, reveals a bit of bitterness towards Becker -- which is not altogether surprising, seeing as any one of his friends and Becker himself would tell you that at times he was capable of being a phenomenal prick. Still, Roseanne Barr’s post on the comic that she came up with in the Denver scene in the early 80’s – a comic who, many would say, outshined her consistently – comes across as somewhat angry and completely bizarre.

On her website,, Barr writes that Don Becker “wasn’t a fan of women comics, but he was a friend of mine for a while. He was crazy and two faced and very mean and spiteful too. He made a deal with the devil and it haunted him to the end of his life. I understand the mania and the depression thing, we spoke of that the few times we could bring ourselves to speak to each other at all. He accused me on the phone of putting a spell on him that made him lose both of his arms. He told me that Sam Kinison told him that I had done that. I knew that Sam had indeed told him that, as Sam had told many people that I was a witch, and an evil one at that. Comics are dark and drink too much, and do not stay on their medications when they should. Because of that comics are crazy. Comics can write though, rewrite the world and shame the gods and dispel darkness and bring violent light through cracks of pain directly into the receiving souls of audience members who too are bi-polar, causing the art of words to mutate and become guerilla theater. Don could do that, and that was the reason we all prayed for him and loved him still. Rest in peace, Becker.”

Other rants on Barr’s website are equally strange, but what shines through in this offering is a deep-seated rivalry between the two comics. But in the world of stand-up comedy, there is only one way to settle such a beef: Who was funnier?

And in that respect, Don Becker wins hands down. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun