Josh Blue on Dave Chapelle, speaking Wolof and 108 Stitches

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Terry Ratzlaff
Josh Blue is a singular talent with an undeniable facility for hilarious riffs that he seems to casually toss off; he also has an uncanny ability to be instantly likable from the moment he grabs the mic. Blue has been a pillar of the Denver comedy scene for years; he broke out nationally when he won NBC's Last Comic Standing in 2006. Throughout his illustrious career, Blue has managed to mine his cerebral palsy for comedic gold; he doesn't shy away from challenging subjects, either. Blue is closing out a pretty stellar 2014 at the home club where he developed his skills. We caught up with Blue in advance of his holiday shows that start tomorrow at the downtown Comedy Works to discuss opening for Dave Chapelle, telling jokes in other languages and his first big film role in 108 Stitches.

See also: Comedian Josh Blue on the pros and cons of being an "inspiration"

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Todd Barry on the Crowd Work Tour, Podcasts and His best-Known Roles

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In addition to providing the pizza-soaked lifeblood of Denver's comedy scene and sponsoring some of its best local showcases, SexPot has really hung its hat on its namesake showcases at the Oriental Theater. And producer Andy Juett has pulled out all the stops for the one-year anniversary show, "A Chilly Evening with Todd Barry," landing SexPot's biggest headliner yet for the December 19 event. Todd Barry is a veteran standup best known for his appearances on such TV shows as Flight of the Conchords and Louie, as well as films like The Wrestler. Fresh off his last special, The Crowd Work Tour -- which consisted of nothing but crowd-generated riffs and good-natured mockery -- Barry has a fresh bundle of jokes for SexPot's loyal crowd. Although this month's showcase concludes SexPot's monthly engagement at the historic Oriental (which will hitherto be reserved for high-drawing headliners and special occasions), the SexPot brand is charging forward, relocating the monthly show to that Baker staple, 3 Kings Tavern, in 2015.

In celebration of SexPot's special showcase, Westword caught up with Barry to discuss working on new jokes after his Crowd Work Tour special, his European podcast fans and his most well-known film and TV roles.

See also: Sexpot Comedy Launches Website That Takes Local Funny Business Seriously

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303 Boards Brings Landrace Skateboard Video to SIE FilmCenter

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Photo courtesy 303 Boards
Director Travis La and the crew behind the latest 303 Boards skateboard team video, Landrace, liked the sound of 12/13/14 for a premiere date. While we're counting, this marks the thirteenth team video from the little Colfax shop that could (tagline: "Holding down the Colorado skate scene since 1997") and this video, screening at the SIE FilmCenter on Saturday with all-ages shows at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and 21+ shows at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., stars some of the biggest names from the scene 303 Boards helped build.

See also:Go Skateboarding Day slideshow

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The Ten Best Comedy Events in Denver in December

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Whether you've been staunchly making merry since Halloween or crankily sneer at holiday cheer each year, December is unquestionably dominated by its traditions -- driven by consumerism, religiosity and compulsory family bonding. This year, amid economic anxiety, polar vortexes and heartbreaking news reports, people might find themselves in dire need of a laugh. And while Entertainment is usually an afterthought in December, typically limited to agreeably mediocre Hollywood spectacles, Denver comedy bundles up and trudges on through the month. While we may have fewer high-profile visitors than during last month's banner programming calendar, we have a proliferation of locally-produced showcases that run the giggle gamut, including two live sketch comedy shows, on-the-rise comics and international TV stars with a devoted cult following. So brave the polar vortex and take a break from the seasonal doldrums at one of our top ten comedy shows, listed in chronological order.

See also: Playbill'sThree Holiday Stage Classics for Everyone


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Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Britta Erickson

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Photo credit: James Dimagiba
Britta Erickson is all smiles at a Starz Denver Film Festival red carpet event.
#43: Britta Erickson

Britta Erickson, a Denver native who's the director of the Starz Denver Film Festival, not only builds the fest from the ground up behind the scenes but also serves as its public face. Popular Denver Film Society side projects such as Film on the Rocks and the Stanley Film Festival also bloom under her watch; in her spare time -- if you can believe she has any -- she's also a film producer who often works with local talent like documentarian Daniel Junge. That's a lot for one woman to carry on her shoulders every year, but Erickson does it with charm and business aplomb, and clearly loves every minute of her work. Learn more via her 100 Colorado Creatives questionnaire, which follows.

See also: Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Darrin Alfred

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Kelly Sears Uses Found Footage to Capture Current Crises: See Them Tonight

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Kelly Sears, Voice on the Line
Kelly Sears will be showing a program of short films at First Person Cinema.
Scouring flea markets, thrift stores and film archives, filmmaker Kelly Sears rescues bits and pieces of forgotten movies and reanimates old footage to explore new ideas. But unlike many found-footage filmmakers whose works are an exercise in nostalgia, Sears reinvents histories to reflect on the current crises facing our society. For example, in her film Voice on the Line, she imagines a secret government program that persuaded '50s era telephone operators to keep callers on the line, slowly getting them to reveal their dirtiest secrets. The film uses this story to reflect on surveillance culture and social media exhibitionism.

Whether she's dealing with the Patriot Act, Manifest Destiny or the menacing drama of high school life, Sears creates captivating narratives while exploring the limits of experimental animation techniques and collage -- using both story and frame-by-frame manipulation. In advance of her presentation at First Person Cinema tonight, we spoke with Sears about her work.

See also: Karen Yasinsky Talks Surrealist Animation and Boredom

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From Ink to The Frame, Jamin and Kiowa Winans Are Making Their Mark in the Movies

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Anthony Camera
Kiowa Winans stands in the garage of her West Highland home, shaking a lifeless child.

"This is our stuffed Quinn," she says, clutching the little-girl-sized doll. She's referring to Quinn Hunchar, the actress who, at the age of eight, played Emma in the cult film Ink. The movie was written and directed by Kiowa's husband, Jamin Winans. He stands next to Kiowa, grinning at the macabre Muppet in her hands. Their garage has become a mausoleum for costumes and props, all stacked neatly in boxes and bags like eerie, discarded memories.

"I sewed this myself, which you can tell from the super-high quality," Kiowa jokes. In addition to co-producing Ink and all the other movies made by the couple's Denver-based company, Double Edge Films, she handles such duties as art direction, sound design, costume design -- and crafting creepy props.

In Ink, that prop plays its role well. The blond, faceless doll served as a stunt double in a scene where Emma is kidnapped from her bed by a supernatural intruder who then leaps from a second-story landing while holding her. It's one of many striking images that helped make the modest yet ambitious film a bona fide viral phenomenon. By Kiowa's estimate, Ink has been watched -- either legitimately or through online piracy -- somewhere in the vicinity of five million times since its release in 2009. In Denver alone, it ran for eight straight weeks at the Starz (now the Sie) FilmCenter. Fans around the world still send photos of homemade costumes they've created or tattoos they've gotten in honor of Ink.
Not that everyone has been charmed by the movie's weirdness. "We were at a warehouse late one night after shooting Ink," Kiowa remembers. "We'd paid a guy to help us out. He didn't speak English. He saw Quinn leave with her mom, then he went outside to have a cigarette. A minute later I come out. I'm exhausted, and I'm trying to wrestle this doll back into the trash bag that I'd brought it in. This poor guy is smoking, and he looks at the doll and goes, 'Oh, la niƱa!' I was like, 'No, this isn't what it seems!' as I'm shoving her into a plastic bag."

Things that aren't what they seem are Kiowa and Jamin's specialty. The duo's three feature-length films -- 11:59 (released in 2005), Ink and The Frame, which opens October 17 at the Sie FilmCenter -- have one element in common: They're all set in the real world. But that world winds up being a far darker, stranger and more magical place than their characters -- or their viewers -- ever imagined.


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Must-see Films at the 2014 Snowboard on the Block North American Film Festival

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Courtesy Snowboard Colorado
Scotty Vine gets upside down on his way to winning the 2013 Snowboard on the Block rail jam.
While the first Colorado ski areas won't be opening for another month, locals know that snowboarding season actually starts in September, with the early onslaught of video premieres to stoke the fire. And, for the second year in a row, you can see almost all of them in one place at the Snowboard on the Block 2014 North American Snowboard Film Festival, an all-ages event getting under way on Saturday.

Westword caught up with Snowboard Colorado editor-in-chief Adam Schmidt for the inside scoop on the festival and a highlight reel of selections from the twenty films being featured.

See also: In Valley Uprising, a Boulder Filmmaker Explores Yosemite's Climbing Counterculture


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Podcast Profiles: Adam Cayton-Holland and My Dining Room Table

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Ryan Brackin
Podcasts are in tune with the democratized spirit of Internet media; anyone with a microphone and a computer can offer their listeners unlimited hours of recordings, usually for free. Limited only by their imaginations, podcasters have a freedom of expression unrestricted by commerce, censorship or geography. Indeed, several great podcasts have blossomed from Denver's own flourishing arts community. Here to celebrate them is Podcast Profiles, a new series documenting the efforts of local podcasters and spotlighting the peculiar personalities behind them.

After he successfully navigated the High Plains Comedy Festival through its second year, it would be understandable for Adam Cayton-Holland to indulge in a bit of glad-handing and laurel-resting before moving forward. Instead, he's been busier than ever. He'll be appearing on the series premiere of The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail and competing once more on @Midnight, so tune into Comedy Central on September 17 for a "double-dose of ACH." In preparation for an upcoming show at L.A.'s taste-making alt-comedy venue, Holland will be debuting his hour on Saturday, September 13 at the Syntax Physic Opera. With all these developments in the running, the time has never been better to check out My Dining Room Table, an interview podcast featuring national headlining comedians, Denver luminaries and plenty of discussion about Holland's dog, Annabel.

See also: Podcast Profiles: Werewolf Radar Gets Weird

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House Candidate Susan Kochevar is Starring in a Drama Over Her 88 Drive-In Theatre

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Bree Davies.
Drive-ins were once a major part of the movie theater landscape, but most of them have closed over the past few decades as indoor multiplexes have taken over. In the Denver area, only one remains: the 88 Drive-In Theatre in Commerce City. Business there, it seems, has never been better. It's so good, in fact, that Susan Kochevar, whose family has owned the outdoor movie house since 1976, is in a traffic-related tussle with the city.

See also: Could Commerce City Shut Down 88 Drive-In, Metro Denver's Last Drive-In Theater?

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