On the Rise

Even though Ben Kronberg lives in Denver, he'll take a plane to Aspen for the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival that starts February 28. He's not lazy or spoiled, but the festival is providing him with a ticket, so why not cut out the three-hour car trip? He's even got his arrival planned.

"I want there to be a slow-motion sequence when I get off the plane," the 29-year-old comic says. "Not unlike the one in the movie Face Off, where Nicolas Cage has the flowing trenchcoat -- that would be my fantasy arrival in Aspen. But then maybe something comical could happen after that as though I'm spoofing something cool. Like the wind blowing my jacket and clothes and they get ripped off in the turbine and then I'm completely naked."

But Kronberg will settle for a little face time with George Carlin and Steven Wright, two of the comics being honored this year at the festival.

"Those guys have definitely been influential on my comedy," Kronberg says. "I'd love to be able to sit in a room in complete uncomfortable silence with Steven Wright and then maybe do some lines with Carlin."

Local comedy connoisseurs know that Kronberg's selection for to the most prestigious comedy festival in the country is no fluke. He's been a staple on the scene for almost four year now, and since winning the Coors Light/Comedy Works New Faces Contest in 2005 has taken his game to a whole new level. Whether riffing on time travel or vampires or abortions, Kronberg always has a unique, bizarre take on his subject matter, one that keeps loyal audiences coming back to find out what exactly he'll say next. Or whether he'll sing about exploding kittens in a microwave again.

"This is the biggest thing that has happened to me in terms of comedy to date," Kronberg says. "It definitely legitimizes my constantly borrowing money from my mom, then having to move back in with her."

Kronberg submitted a DVD of his comedy to the festival last year (see it for yourself here), was asked to fly to Los Angeles for a showcase in Los Angeles in December, and then, off the strength of that performance, was quickly informed that he would be appearing in Aspen. He will perform four seven-minute sets over the course of the festival as part of the "New Faces Showcase."

"I hope I get some increased appreciation for my own comedic abilities out of this," Kronberg says. "But I'm pretty much just looking for accolades and clout."

Kronberg won't be alone in representing Denver as he seeks clout and accolades, or claccolades. Denver comics Josh Blue and Steve "Mudflap" McGrew will be appearing in Aspen, as will TJ Miller, a Denver-raised comedian currently performing in Chicago with Second City.

Go get 'em, boys. -- 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