Greg Baumhauer on the end of the Squire Lounge's open-mike comedy night

Categories: Comedy, Q&A

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After a seven-and-a-half-year run, Greg Baumhauer is pulling the plug on the Squire Lounge's open-mike comedy night. "We've crushed enough dreams," he says. And tonight, you have one last chance to catch Baumhauer and the Wrist Deep crew in action at what was once hailed as the meanest open-mike night in America.

We spoke with Baumhauer about his reasons for ending the night, Colfax crackheads, how the event has changed over the years, and what it's like to have full drinks thrown at you and people charge the stage:

Westword: So, you guys are calling it quits.

Greg Baumhauer: Yeah. Pulling the plug.

Why?

I think it's run its course. I think we've done as much as we can with the Squire. Being that big of an asshole is exhausting. We've crushed enough dreams.

How long have you been doing it?

Seven and a half years, which is easily longer than any running comedy show in Denver.

Did you have any idea it would last that long?

Not at all. I thought it was going to last three months.

What do you think kept it going and gave it longevity?

Colfax. It was a celebration of Colfax, really. And also, it was mean-spirited, for everybody, especially for the new comedians. Denver loves to hate a little bit.

I tried it a few times. The first time was all right, but the second time was excruciating.

Yeah. It sucks. It's humiliating. It's terrible. You can't sleep. You swear to yourself out loud, like in the shower. I know all about it.

A bunch of blank stares.

It's awful. And then this asshole goes up there and makes fun of you in front of your friends and family and shit.

Then you get all the Colfax freaks and that adds to charm of it.

The bar is trying to clean up. They had a lot of crackheads, but there's a doorman, so a lot of that element wasn't being allowed in. So it was turning into hipster scene night instead of a comedy show. It was a fucking Lipgloss of jokes instead of a comedy show. There would be fifty or sixty hipsters in there, and nobody's listening to the comedy at all. The only time anyone would stop and listen was when I was going to go up there and make fun of somebody, but they didn't even get a chance. It had the reputation as the meanest open-mike night in America for a reason. It was rough. We probably ended more careers before they ever got started than any other show around.

That had to be one of the toughest proving grounds for comedians.

It's a place where a lot of veterans were afraid to go. I mean, twenty-year vets were like, "Fuck that!" People who had TV specials were like, "No way."

I would imagine that anyone who could make it there could make it anywhere, or somewhat...

Well, they could make it anywhere in Wyoming. It's a different type of skill set that you develop there. You develop two things at the Squire: one is bad habits, and two is you get crowd work.


What was the goal when you started the night?

I just wanted a place where me and my friends could tell jokes. I was getting enough stage time in the clubs, so I was just like, "All right, I'll just start my own shit for me and my boys." That was pretty much the goal. I wasn't expecting to learn anything. I didn't think it was going to be around for a long time at all.

How would you say the night has changed over the years?

When it started it was just like a normal, shitty kind of open mike. It was just comedians and maybe some poor girlfriend who hadn't figured out that she should probably stay home on these kind of shows. Then it took a turn when I started being mean to the comedians. That's where it clicked, I think. Then it turned out it was great for a comedy room. Then it sort of evolved into a "Hey, dude, I heard that hot girls hang out at the Squire on Tuesdays. Drinks are cheap. Lets go get laid."

What are you going to take away from seven years there?

Man, that's a good question. I hadn't even fucking thought about that at all.

I'd imagine it's given you a place to really hone your chops.

Yeah. Absolutely. For one, comedy is hard. That's one of the things I'll take away from my experience running that show. It's tough. That's kind of the reason I run the room the way I run it. If you're going to start being a comedian, you might as well get ready for a whole bunch of disappointment. No matter how big you get, it's right around the corner. I just think it's a great place to prepare yourself for anything that can happen. It's like comedy boot camp. If I can deal with some cracked-out tranny hooker heckling me, I can deal with some drunk chick from Cherry Creek.

Did things ever get violent at all?

Absolutely. I've had stuff thrown at me. People charge the stage repeatedly. There's always the story about Kronberg and the supposed gun getting pulled out. That actually turned out to not be true, but it's a good story. It turns out there really was no gun, but everyone thought there was. It made it into a book by John Wenzel. I remember one month where three out of the four weeks in one month, someone threw a full drink at my head. One was on election night, when Obama won. But I've had people charge the stage multiple times. Other people threaten me with gun violence.

Any other memorable things that have happened over the years?

One that's already been written about was the dude coming in talking on a baby phone, acting like it was a cellphone, this crackhead. That was pretty memorable. We had a guy who was a homeless dude who would hang out in front of the bar. He wasn't allowed in the bar, but his name was Chicago. He would just routinely stick his head in the door and yell, "Yo, yo, it's Chicago!" and he actually became famous. I think there was a little article written about him in the Onion. He wasn't even allowed into the bar. He was just some dude. It's hard to take out one story at a time. Some crackhead going nuts, you know?

Adam [Cayton-Holland] got his start there as well.

Adam was a huge part of it. So was Ben Kronberg. Those two -- Adam Cayton-Holland and Ben Kronberg -- were the two biggest contributors to the show, for sure. They were there right from the very beginning. We all worked together very closely. We were in a crew called Wrist Deep Productions, the three of us.

Any other plans in the near future?

Right now I'm taking a little break. I'm probably going to refocus. Relax and let my liver heal up a little bit. Maybe give my conscience the week off. I had a girl come up to me recently and she was like, "You're the comedian, right?" I said, "Yeah, have you been to the Squire?" and she was like, "Yeah." I said, "What did you think?" She said, "I don't know. You told me I was too fat to have AIDS."

Another time I was at the Comedy Works and it was new talent night. There was some black girl there a little on the heavier side. She comes up to me and was like, "You run the Squire, right? Do you remember me?" I was like, "No." She said, "You called me Precious...like the movie." And all I could do was laugh.

Are you guys going to do anything special for your last night?

Yeah, we probably will. It will be a big celebration. I'm sure all the usual suspects will come out. Hopefully Chuck Roy or Josh Blue or somebody will come on down. Maybe this will be the night I get stabbed.

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The Squire Lounge

1800 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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19 comments
phxmark86
phxmark86

Oh yeah, you owe dave ing an apology asshole. its not ok to be dick for no reason. but being a dick for no reason is who you are. why change now when its gotten you so far?

phxmark86
phxmark86

meanewst open mic in america, dont whine when someone lets you have it without bouncers  to drag them away.  fucking delusional failure.,

phxmark86
phxmark86

do your job now clever guy. where is all that career making wit, asshole?

phxmark86
phxmark86

crushed enough drems? is this where yuou dreamed you'd be a decade in to your "career" asshole face? the fact that you take pleasure in  shitting on other people makes this effortless. and entirely giult free. you mean spirited fucking hack failure. 

phxmark86
phxmark86

Feal the love as the city "rallies around" you. You fully deserve it. Sucks to have someone point out your flaws(and you are far more of a failure than she was fat, by the way) in front of others doesn't it? And her being fat didn't tie up cops ems  fireman and surgeons for hours or cost the city tens of thousands of dollars, you pathetic drunken less than wothless weasel faced prick FAILURE.

JUST DOING MY JOB. I'D DO IT AGAIN TOMORROW

phxmark86
phxmark86

And yes, I well fucking hate. you. WATCHING THAT POOR WOMAN CRY AND BEG FOR HER FRIEND TO COME PICK HER UP BECAUSE SHE FELT TO HUMILIATED TO GO BACK INSIDE WAS UTTERLY HEARTBREAKING, TO ANYONE WITH A HEART. YOU ARE A FUCKING MEAN SPIRITED BASTaRD. I HOPE ONLY BAD THINGS HAPOPEN TO YOU, YOU HEARTLESS PRICK BASTARD. To be such an asshole is shameless. To do it and not even achieve shit in the process makes it even worse. Fuck you and your tough guy buddy. If he has any dignity, we'll be meeting soon.

phxmark86
phxmark86

WEASEL FACED PRICK, LIVE AT THE SHITHOLE. AVAILABLE NOWHERE. LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING YOUR BUDDY SOON, ASSHOLE.  I bet his tough talk is about as real as your "career" in comedy. Fucking hack loser.

phxmark86
phxmark86

Im just rallying the community around asshole face, don't be mad. He actually thanked me last time. I  doing him a favor. Hey prick fac3e4, where can I buy your "album". I cant even find it online. Must be a huge seller. GIVE IT UP ALREADY. YOU FAILED.

phxmark86
phxmark86

He's not too fat for coke. Or aids. Or cancer. Or homelessness. Or meth. Or alcaholism. Or utter failure. 

Just doing my job. Id do again tomorrow.

phxmark86
phxmark86

Tell the truth now. The guy has a weasal fucking face. Tell me different and you are lying. Anyone? Anyone? For fucki sake someone that bangs his head against a wall for so long would at least get thrown a bone out of pity somewhere along the way. But his off the chart,hateable, weasel face has prevented even that from happening. 

phxmark86
phxmark86

That loser is a delusional weaswel faced no talent prick. he is a mean spirited never was never gonna be shit hack. How did he gety such a swollen head after achieving shit in a decde(and I doin't mean literally, so please don't say from falling his drunk ass off a bike, again). AND THIS COW FUCKIN TOWN PAPER IS NO HELP.  Read trhat bullshiot about him "busting" out off the hospital(after the 1st time he crashed a bicycle drunk and you paid for it) and the nurses gave him a "standing ovatiuon" for "wi9nning(he actually tied with, umm ahh, shit some otrher nobody hack. Busted out? What the fuck? The hoispital doesn't have uninsured idiots that are there because they are to drunk to function under guard. And a "standing ovation"? Really? Thyat shit is jourenalism like asshole face is a comedian. So all the nurses were seated and rose to their feet and clapped? Shoddy fucki9ng reportring. These weekly papers that live off of hooker ads are shameless. "And all the nurses gave him astanding ovation" what a fucking joke.

Mistercrispy
Mistercrispy

Good riddance. This show gave comedy a bad name. Before you jump to claiming this is sour grapes from a failed open-micer, think again. I'm not a performer. I'm a comedy fan. I went to the show exactly three times, each time optimistic that the previous time was a fluke. Like Lucy swiping the football away from Charlie Brown, I was sadly mistaken. 

There was a reason why veteran comedians wouldn't go to a terrible show like the Squire: it's completely counterproductive. Why would a comedian want to go to a show where some nobody from nowhere chews him out for not making a bunch of low-lifes from the worst part of town chuckle? Sorry, it's not about "developing a thick skin" or learning to do crowd work or learning how to "deal with hecklers". It's about find your comedy voice and making lots of different types of people laugh consistently.

I wouldn't call what went on at the Squire "comedy", I'd call it "sabotage for cheap laughs". The easiest, the EASIEST way for a comedian to get laughs is to rip some newbie when he gets offstage. That is cheap. It's HACK. It might be popular with a certain crowd, but are a bunch of hipster wannabes really the audience you want to hone your material in front of? That material won't work in front of 99% of the rest of the Let's use Baumhauer's "logic" in justifying the show and his attitude in another context. Say you're a master pogosticker. You are fairly amazing at pogosticking, and can feel like your pogo skills are pretty advanced. Baumhauer would come up to you an challenge you, "Yeah, but can you pogostick IN A TORNADO? And then ONLY pogostick in tornadoes EVERY WEEK?" A pogosticker with a sense of self-esteem and confidence would say, "Why would I want to do that? That sounds stupid," and go about his business pogosticking in conditions more conducive to pogosticking. He doesn't have to prove his "worth" by pogosticking in a tornado. And there will be many great comedians to come out of Denver that would never think of doing a show like the Squire. Because they see it for what it is: unnecessary. Hey Denver comedy scene, and espcially Baumhauer, learn from SUCCESSFUL comedy scenes in other cities. If you want to build a foundation for a thriving comedy environment in Denver, create a community the BUILDS UP talent, instead of tearing it down for cheap laughs. The Squire show lasted as long as it did for the same reason Jersey Shore has lasted; everyone loves a train wreck. But do you really want Denver to become the Jersey Shore of comedy? I know I don't. 

Veronica Bernal Sanders
Veronica Bernal Sanders

I feel sick that I missed Squire's last comedy night last night. I feel sick that I wasn't able to see Greg up on that stage one last time. Greg and Tuesday nights at Squire were definitely a high point of my life in Denver. Or low point depending on how many crack heads bummed a cigarette from me out on the sidewalk. I'm just glad I was able to be a part of this crazy night there over the past 2 years. Greg, I love you man and I can't wait to see what shit you're going to throw at us next. :)

Linn Stanley
Linn Stanley

The show's over.  You should be happy.  Why waste our time hating on it at this point? What you should have done is picket outside of the show each week. Now THAT would have been good comedy.

phxmark86
phxmark86

@Veronica Bernal Sanders He crashed a bicycle drunk and cost you a bunch of money. AGAIN. What a major talent.

phxmark86
phxmark86

@Linn Stanley Who the fuck are you to tell people what to do? And since when does someones time spent commenting on an article become partially yours? Fuckin dumb kunt. How dare you assume you have the right to tell anyone how to spend their(not your co-owned, ) time? BITCH. SPEND YOUR TIME AS YOU WANT, WHAT OTHERS DO WITH THEIR TIME DOES NOT NEED TO BE EXPLAINED TO YOU.

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