Too Much Funstival comedians on how Denver's scene has evolved
"When I started doing comedy in Denver, there were about two open mikes a week and one alt show a month," says Bobby Crane, a member of the Fine Gentleman's Club. "And now there's more than one open mike every night of the week and three or four alt shows a month that are really good. I'd say in the last four years, the Denver comedy scene has tripled in size."
Crystal Allen Nathan Lund, Chris Charpentier, Sam Tallent and Bobby Crane are the Fine Gentleman's Club.
Crane and his three compadres in FGC -- local comics Chris Charpentier, Sam Tallent and Nathan Lund -- will celebrate that scene with the four-day Too Much Funstival, which starts Thursday. Combining music and comedy, the festival is a monument to Denver's ever-growing standup-comedy community, which has come a long way in the past decade -- and has recently found a friend in underground music.
"When they started bringing in music and comedy, it really brought a special sort of we're-all-members-of-the-creative-art-scene vibe," says Denver comedian (and former Westword staffer) Adam Cayton-Holland, who started the monthly Los Comicos Super Hilariosos back in 2005, a show that was a pioneer in this city's alternative-comedy movement. "When I started doing comedy in 2004, there were a handful of shitty open mikes -- and Comedy Works, which was hard to get into. So we started our own thing."
Gradually drifting away from the established world of comedy clubs (with their steep cover prices and two-drink minimums), over the past decade, standup has embraced more relaxed, alternative venues, as evidenced by Patton Oswalt's 2005 The Comedians of Comedy tour documentary, in which comics bypassed comedy clubs in favor of indie rock clubs, where most of their audiences were hanging out anyway. This wave reached Denver around the same time, with comics like Cayton-Holland, Ben Roy, Greg Baumhauer and Ben Kronberg putting on their own shows at the DIY Orange Cat Studios, where the audiences came from that same blend of bicycling urbanites who regularly attend rock shows.
Los Comicos Super Hilariosos -- along with a few other new open mikes -- was a major success for a city with no signature comedy scene. Yet with national attention drawing many of these comics away from Denver for stretches at a time -- along with a devastating fire that put Orange Cat temporarily out of commission -- Denver's blossoming comedy community was at times a ship without a captain.