Steve Rannazzisi on Fantasy Football and Ridiculous Passions

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Steve Rannazzisi is best-known to fans as the long-suffering Kevin MacArthur on FXX's The League, but he's also a prolific standup comedian. Touring the country regularly, Rannazzisi has seen his career progress from humble beginnings working the door at the infamous Comedy Store in Los Angeles to performing on Conan, @Mindnight and the Comedy Central Roast of James Franco. We caught up with Rannazzisi in advance of his headlining engagement at Comedy Works to discuss fantasy football fans, putting a new hour together, and why people's passion for the ridiculous is a recipe for comedy.

See also: Ari Shaffir on His New Show, Death Threats, Shroomfest 2015 and Colorado Bro-Dudes

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Podcast Profiles: Whiskey & Cigarettes, a Podcast About Podcasts

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

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Ryan Brackin
(from left) Jake Becker, Jake Browne and Zac Maas
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. Several great podcasts have blossomed in Denver's flourishing arts community; here to celebrate them is Podcast Profiles, a series documenting the efforts of local podcasters and spotlighting the peculiar personalities behind them.

Whiskey & Cigarettes is a podcast about podcasts, and much funnier than that glib description would suggest. Hosted by the local brain trust behind the Comics Against Civility comedy game show -- Jake Becker, Zac Maas and Jake Browne -- the podcast has evolved over the years. What began as an unfocused, booze-soaked marathon of podcast clips and quips has sharpened into a more purposeful format boasting funnier episodes and attracting some high-profile guests. In advance of the Comics Against Civility round with Browne and Maas at Spruce Tap House at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 24, we caught up with the Whiskey & Cigarettes crew to discuss how the show has changed and their favorite guests.

See also: Podcast Profiles: Haley Driscoll and Christie Buchele Get Personal on Empty Girlfriend

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Ari Shaffir on His New Show, Death Threats, Shroomfest 2015 and Colorado Bro-Dudes

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To the untrained eye, Ari Shaffir looks like an overnight success. Hot off the heels of his latest one-hour special Paid Regular, which aired January 16 on Comedy Central, Shaffir has a new series, This Is Not Happening, premiering on the January 22. The taste-making network will also be distributing and showing reruns of Shaffir's first hour, Passive Aggressive. Despite the confluence of successes, Shaffir has been quietly plugging away at his act for years, generating web content like his video series "The Amazing Racist" and steadfastly recording the popular podcast The Skeptic Tank week after week. With all that, Shaffir will be in town at the end of the month to headline at the downtown Comedy Works, his favorite club. We recently caught up with Shaffir to discuss his new special, offending audiences and his love of psilocybin mushrooms.

See also: Adam Cayton-Holland a Big Winner at the 2014 Denver Comedy Awards

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Artist Peter Yumi on Getting Back Into the Galleries and Making Something Out of Nothing

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All photos courtesy of the artist.
See new work by Peter Yumi at Ironton Gallery.

Collage artist Peter Yumi hasn't exactly been in hiding the last five years, though he's rarely shown any work in galleries during that time. But he has been busy in the studio and sharing work with other artists on the Internet, and in 2015, he'll be back on gallery walls, beginning with a two-person outing with Lyle West that opens tomorrow at Ironton. On January 23, he'll also take on a curatorial role for Something/Nothing, a group show opening at Vertigo Art Space. We caught up with Yumi to talk about his big year and what's been going on in his studio.

See also: Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Peter Strange Yumi

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Terri Barton Gregg on Deacon Gray and "Kick Cancer in the Throat," a Benefit Tomorrow

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One of the blessings of a career in standup is being part of the small but fiercely loyal community of comics sharing the same journey. When one of our own is down, the shock reverberates through the scene and comedians scramble to help out. So when Deacon Gray, new talent coordinator at Comedy Works and de facto mentor to Denver's fledgling standups, was diagnosed with cancer, comics were eager to give anything back to the man who inspires us to try harder. Shepherding these efforts is Terri Barton Gregg, who organizes countless benefit shows and fundraisers through her company, Hold Please Productions. We caught up with Gregg to discuss Deacon and "Kick Cancer in the Throat," a benefit show on January 9 at Jake's, and in the process learned the meaning of several Yiddish words.

See also: The Ten Best Comedy Events in Denver in January

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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 mike. 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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Podcast Profiles: Haley Driscoll and Christie Buchele Get Personal on Empty Girlfriend

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Ryan Brackin
(from left) Haley Driscoll and Christie Buchele
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. Several great podcasts have blossomed in Denver's 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.

Releasing weekly episodes since August, Empty Girlfriend came out of the gate fully formed. The brainchild of local comics Christie Buchele and Haley Driscoll, the podcast interviews local comedians, musicians and veterinarians about their relationship histories, offering "love tips and love quips from unqualified professionals." Buchele and Driscoll are charming and disarming co-hosts who put their guests at ease for surprisingly revealing interviews. Though unafraid to delve into more somber topics like heartbreak, disease and personal struggle, the podcast is always leavened by their quick wit and sentence-finishing chemistry. Westword caught up with the Empty Girlfriends to discuss rising from the ashes of an attempted sketch show, asking personal questions and doo-doo pussy.

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

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Alex Cox on Bill the Galactic Hero, Biggest Student Movie of All Time

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No matter the time or place, even in deep space or the far future, war is hell, and the little guy always gets the worst of it. But when that little guy is the hero of director Alex Cox's adaptation of Harry Harrison's Bill, the Galactic Hero, at least you get a few laughs along the way, plus the hope of a happy(ish) ending. Given the state of endless war in which the United States finds itself mired, Cox's take on Harrison's anti-war cult classic -- a project he's wanted to tackle since just after he finished Repo Man in 1984 -- couldn't be more timely. And its lo-fi sci-fi action, brought to the screen thanks to Kickstarter and a cast and crew made up largely of students from the University of Colorado at Boulder, should provide the perfect realization of both Cox's style and Harrison's message. Before the film's world premiere Friday, December 12 in Boulder, we spoke to Cox about the process of making "the biggest student movie of all time," how Roger Corman almost brought it to the screen in the '80s, and how being a narcissist helps get your art seen.

See also: The Ten Best Geek Events in Denver in December

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Electronic Textiles Artist Barbara Layne on Creating Interactive, Wearable Fiber Art

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Professor Barbara Layne with two of her wearable pieces that were shown at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The Dairy Center for the Arts is opening a new exhibition, The Art of Fiber: Fifty Years of the Handweavers Guild of Boulder, that showcases a juried exhibition of new work as well as a historical display of textiles and technology. In celebration of the show, the Handweavers Guild and the Dairy have invited Barbara Layne, a professor at Concordia University in Montreal who works through the Interactive Textiles and Wearable Computers research axis at the Hexagram Institute, to speak at the opening tomorrow night. A former Colorado resident, Layne studied art at the University of Colorado and was an early member of the Guild. In advance of her talk on electronic textiles at the Dairy, Layne spoke with Westword about the origin of her work in the fascinating field of fiber art and technology.

See also: DIY feminist science writer Margaret Wertheim discusses the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

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