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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Mona Lott plays Strip-Joker With Comics for Stripped Down Standup

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Mona Lott at Stripped Down Standup.
Strippers and standup comedians have more in common than it would seem at first blush. Both performers take to the stage -- usually alone -- trying to evoke a reaction from an audience full of creeps they'd avoid in other circumstances. Bridging the gap between these two disparate art forms -- in much the same way that cocaine did in the '80s -- is a comedian and host of "Ball Bustin' Bingo."

Less of a Drag Queen than a Drag Empress, Mona Lott seized upon the idea of having comedians and strippers share the stage in "a game of strip poker that uses jokes instead of cards." The show, called "Stripped Down Standup" has been packing the house with crowds of over 200. The next one takes place Wednesday, December 3 at the Denver Improv. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 on the Denver Improv website.

Turn the page to hear more from Mona.

See also: Nate Bargatze on Recording His Special and Playing Baseball With Pizza Boxes

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Nate Bargatze on Recording His Special and Playing Baseball With Pizza Boxes

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Nate Bargatze has been on the cusp of stardom for a few years now. For a comic whose fanbase includes luminaries such as Marc Maron, Bargatze's act is much more approachable than his reputation might suggest. Affable and generally TV-clean, Bargatze has a playfully dark sensibility that's buoyed by innate comic timing and a Southern accent. He's appeared on Conan, Maron and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, who also featured Bargatze on his Clean Cut Comedy Tour. His debut album, Yelled at by a Clown, made it to the Billboard Top Ten Comedy Charts and he's toured extensively with the USO, performing for deployed troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Bargatze has already endeared himself to Denver crowds with a strong showing at last year's High Plains Comedy Festival; in advance of his upcoming headlining gig at the downtown Comedy Works, we caught up with Bargatze to discuss comedy festivals, his new special, and playing pizza-box baseball at High Plains.

See also: John Leguizamo on His Standup Tour, Fugly and Summer of Sam

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Dan Stafford on Cowtown Comics Fest, Kilgore Books and His John Porcellino Movie

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Noah Van Sciver
There's no shortage of fun for comics lovers in Denver, but local creators can get lost in the shuffle at some of the bigger cons. Not so at the Cowtown Comics Fest, hosted annually by Kilgore Books and happening Sunday, November 23 at Morey Middle School. Aside from John Porcellino, who no longer lives here but has deep roots in the Denver comics scene (including founding the Cowtown Comics Fest years ago), all of the talent at the fest will be people you might see scribbling away in your favorite coffee shop. That includes renowned artists such as Noah Van Sciver, Stan Yan and Karl Christian Krumpholz, as well as up-and-coming creators you haven't heard of yet. Plus, Stafford's own documentary film on Porcellino, Root Hog or Die, complete with a post-screening Q&A with Stafford and Porcellino, will close out the day's activities. Before the fest, we sat down with festival organizer Dan Stafford to find out what to expect from the fest, why it disappeared for a few years and what's so great about Denver's comics scene.

See also: Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Noah Van Sciver

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David Fodel and Janet Feder on Curating BMoCA's MediaLive 2014

Categories: Interviews

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The Light Surgeons will perform at CU-Boulder's ATLAS Institute as part of MediaLive 2014
When David Fodel was invited to help launch MediaLive two years ago, one of his goals for the performance-, workshop- and talk-filled symposium at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art was to showcase artists who are exploring new forms of live audiovisual work. This year's three-day festival, which runs from November 14 through November 16 at the museum and CU-Boulder's ATLAS Black Box Theater, was co-curated by local guitarist Janet Feder; it will feature artists from around the globe, including the London-based Light Surgeons, Chicago-based Nick Briz, Moscow-based VTOL and many more. In advance of MediaLive 2014, we caught up with Fodel and Feder to talk about curating the festival, some of the artists performing at it and how its scope has grown over the last two years.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives -- Janet Feder



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Rudy Gonzales on Servicios de la Raza's Four Decades of Work and its New Home

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Servicios de la Raza's Executive Director, Rudy Gonzales.
After providing community health and services in Denver's Sunnyside neighborhood for decades, Servicios de la Raza moved this week to a new home at 3131 West 14th Avenue. To do so, the organization had to sell its buildings at 41st Avenue and Tejon Street, which meant the removal of the "Privavera" murual, which had been a landmark there for more than three decades. But the move should be a good for Servicios, says executive director Rudy Gonzales, who spoke with Westword about its work and about the challenges facing the population its serves -- as Denver neighborhoods continue to change.

See also: Jerry Jaramillo's Sunnyside Mural, "Primavera," Is Gone But Not Forgotten

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