Ben Kronberg on his new Comedy Central special, and why he left Denver
Since you've left Denver, you've been engrossed in both the East and West Coast comedy scenes. With this perspective, do you think there is a characteristic style to Denver comedy?
In the five years of doing comedy in Denver, I saw a lot of different styles. Because of that influence, everyone developed together. Going to different comedy scenes like Austin, Seattle or Boston, I really got to see, like, "Wow, this is happening everywhere." There was a simultaneous evolution of the comedy scenes, because we're all connected by Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Mitch Hedberg, George Carlin... .And now we're beginning to cross-pollinate, like Grawlix doing stuff in San Francisco.
More of the comedy scenes are starting to recognize each other, and letting that work to their advantage. They don't have to play comedy clubs, and then we can afford to fly them here and put them up, and have them make money at this cool, independent show.
Denver as been one of the best for really trying to grow out of it's own scene. People from Denver who are now being seen are really putting themselves out there. That's not happening in any other scenes that I know of.
But some of those guys who live in Denver should, in my opinion, have already moved to L.A. or New York. They're flying out and exposing themselves to the major markets, though. Otherwise Denver would be just like the Austin comedy scene, which gets some cool festivals, but the comedians happening in Austin aren't doing anything to get out of Austin. They're in their comfortable, cool environment, and letting that be enough. Denver comedy scene isn't limiting itself to just Denver.
But there's something to be said for cultivating a breeding ground for young comics, and I certainly wouldn't say that leaving Denver should be the ultimate goal of any comedian.
I'm not saying they shouldn't stay, but the thing is I've seen so many funny people settle for the day job that they have because it's secure and comfortable. And all they ever do is a little local show on the weekend, and that's a shame. They're staying in their comfort zone, instead of going to these other places where they might not be the bigger fish.
What's happening with Grawlix isn't necessarily representative of what's going to happen with every local comedian. Because they're setting this example that is more rooted in hard work and tenacity than it is sticking around and being a Denver comic. Being a Denver comic is great, but you're not going to make that great of a living -- unless you're Josh Blue. But even he makes his money elsewhere.
Look at someone like Troy Baxley, who is as funny as I've ever seen anyone be on stage, he didn't move away and never got his big break in Colorado. But had he moved to L.A. or New York, I guarantee you he would be bigger than he is right now.
If you're a comedian, and you want to make good money, people have to know who you are. You can make frequent money, but if you never do any shows that really get you out there, you're going to top off.
Do you think there's any national buzz about Denver? Do you ever hear anyone use the phrase "Denver comedy scene?"
Oh, absolutely. And that's because Denver has been welcoming to all these comedians outside Colorado. That helps spread the word.
It's being talked about by other comedians, but it's not being talked about by the general public.
But is the general public talking about any comedy scene? What we consider the general public, I don't think they'd even use the term "comedy scene"
No, but the general public are consuming and buying into the things that are made on the coasts. That's what they're talking about. They're talking about Chelsea Handler and Workaholics; and the ability to tap into that general public is what makes you bookable and get you a lot of shows. Being a part of a cool scene will only make cool things happen within that scene.