Aparna Nancherla on Totally Biased, Australian crowds and avoiding the dregs of Twitter

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Doug Ault
The High Plains Comedy Festival will return next month, and SexPot comedy will whet fans' appetites tonight with another weed-and-jokes pizza party at the Oriental Theater. The lineup is packed with crushers from start to finish: SexPot host Jordan Doll and comics Sean Patton, Ashley Barnhill and Ian Douglas Terry will join headliner Aparna Nancherla for an evening that promises to be a greasy slice of laughter pie. Nancherla is a fast-rising star on the alternative comedy scene whose absurdist perspective informs a wide-ranging act that can touch on everything from the gross combo of orange juice and toothpaste to imperialism within the same five-minute set. Nancherla has appeared on Conan and @Midnight, and contributed several memorable segments as a performer and staff writer to the prematurely cancelled Totally Biased with Kamau Bell. In advance of tonight's show, Westword caught up with Nancherla to chat about about SexPot, Australian audiences and avoiding the dregs of Twitter.

See also: Marc Maron on patent trolls and spiritual experiences in the desert

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Marc Maron on patent trolls and spiritual experiences in the desert

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Robyn Von Swank/ IFC
Most comedy nerds are already familiar with Marc Maron's biography. He rose to prominence in the alt-comedy scene of the '90s before floundering through a few TV and radio gigs that never felt like a perfect fit. Despite racking up over forty appearances on the various incarnations of Conan and never leaving the airwaves for long, Maron's career was at a low point when he started the WTF podcast in his garage. In addition to in-depth interviews with comedians, musicians and the occasional movie star, WTF gives plenty of mic time to Maron's chronic over-sharing as well. Though off-putting at first to some listeners, his rambling engenders a more personal connection with the legion of listeners who have flocked to his shows. Currently starring in the final few episodes of the second season his IFC sitcomMaron, he'll be headlining this weekend at the downtown Comedy Works . In advance of that run, we caught up with Maron to discuss patent trolls, Denver's drunk crowds and his attempts at a spiritual experience in the desert.

See also: Christopher Titus on happiness, joking about guns, and Pawnography

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The Great Flood director Bill Morrison on collaborating with Bill Frisell

Categories: Interviews

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Clayton James Cubitt
Bill Morrison.
New York-based filmmaker Bill Morrison had already made two short films using Bill Frisell's pre-recorded music, but Morrison wanted to work with the well-known jazz guitarist on a longer project. That effort would become The Great Flood, a documentary that they started collaborating on a few years ago and released on DVD last year. Using film footage from the Fox Movietone News Collection and the National Archives of the Mississippi River Flood of 1927 (the most destructive flood in American history), Morrison assembled the eighty-minute film. There's not a word in the movie -- much less dialogue or narration -- just Frisell's score to accompany the visuals of the catastrophe.

In advance of a screening Saturday, July 19 at the Boulder Theater, we spoke with Morrison about what inspired him to make the film.

See also: Bill Frisell on working with Dale Bruning

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Christopher Titus on happiness, joking about guns, and Pawnography

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Christopher Titus is a singular voice in standup comedy, with a unique style and profound personal connection to his fanbase. Titus stood out early on with appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Premium Blend, and managed to turn his one-man show Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding into the eponymous sitcom Titus, which ran from 2000 t 2002 on Fox until it was cancelled following a dispute with executives. Titus remained prolific in the aftermath, releasing standup specials The Fifth Annual End of the World Tour, Love is Evol, Neverlution and The Voice in my Head in the space of a few years. He now co-hosts the Titus Podcast and is working to fund a movie called Special Unit, co-starring Denver's own Josh Blue, as well as gearing up for his next special, The Angry Pursuit of Happiness. Titus will headline at Comedy Works South this week; in advance of those shows, Westword caught up with him to discuss honesty in comedy, dismantling pro-gun hysteria with humor, and his new History Channel game show, Pawnography.

See also: Paul Reiser on his Sundance film and returning to standup after twenty years

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Peter Sagal talks about fleeting radio fame, Elvis Costello and John Tesh

Categories: Interviews

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Andrew Collings/NPR

When National Public Radio's weekly news quiz, "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!," began, way back in 1998, host Peter Sagal and his sidekick, radio veteran Carl Kassell, weren't even in the same room, let alone in front of a studio audience. The call-in show was recorded remotely from different studios.

Now the pop-culture-laced, headline-driven exam is a live, interactive experience that brings hosts, panelists and players together on stage -- and tonight, for the first time, that stage will be at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

See also: Shotgun Willie's strip joint gets shout out on NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!

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Ken Schroeppel's DenverInfill blog keeps a close eye on the city's growth and development

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Ryan Dravitz for DenverInFill.
A city in transition: Ryan Dravitz of the DenverInfill team takes many of the site's recent shots.
Ever wonder what the plans are for a construction site that has popped up at the end of your block? Have you been curious about a new face being put on an old building downtown? For close to a decade, Ken Schroeppel has been answering these questions, documenting Denver's development progress through his blog DenverInfill and its companion, DenverUrbanism.

By day, he's an urban planner and professor of architecture and planning at the University of Colorado Denver -- but in his free time, Schroeppel and his team of contributors connect with developers, architects and an array of folks in the construction field to create a detailed database of the city's current and upcoming construction projects.

Westword spoke with Schroeppel about his long-running DenverInfill blog, how he collects his information on new buildings and the role of preservation within the development of Denver.

See also: The Denver Eye's Tom Lundin talks mid-century modern and Lakeside's Masonic roots

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Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter on the film's history and impact

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Basket Case
This Saturday, Channel Z is bringing one of the strangest buddy comedies of all time to the Alamo Drafthouse. Frank Henenlotter's horror comedy Basket Case is the tale of a country bumpkin named Duane and his horrifically deformed "twin," Belial. After his little, creepy conjoined buddy is forcibly removed, Duane sticks him in a basket and heads to the big city to seek a little revenge, creating an unforgettably strange movie along the way. Shot for almost nothing with an amateurish cast and crew, somehow this weird tale became a cult favorite, spawning two sequels that charmed/disgusted multiple generations of fans.

We spoke to Henenlotter to get his thoughts on the films enduring popularity, its equally strange sequels and how the movie helped launch a new business model for horror films.

See also: From Basket Case to Raiders, the undying cult of genre film

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Adam Cayton-Holland on doubling down for High Plains Comedy Festival's second year

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Mindy Tucker

Adam Cayton-Holland is a comedian, podcaster and former Westword scribe who forged his craft in ego-battering Colfax open mics before co-founding The Grawlix with Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl, a union that has produced a self-titled parodic web series and Denver's best monthly standup showcase -- which just so happens to be tonight at the Bug Theater at 10:30 p.m. Cayton-Holland has amassed an enviable list of TV credits, delivering strong sets on shows Conan and The Pete Holmes Show, while steadfastly residing in his native Denver, where the outspoken baseball fan recently realized his lifelong dream of throwing out the opening pitch at a Rockies game after a long social media campaign. And Cayton-Holland's brainchild, The High Plains Comedy Festival, continues to thrive under his quiet but determined stewardship, with the second edition set for August 22-23. The unbelievably stacked lineup includes returning champions from last year's fest, like Beth Stelling, Sean Patton, Kate Berlant, Ian Douglas Terry and Cameron Esposito, in addition to Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani and T.J. Miller as well as ringers like Chris Fairbanks, Baron Vaughn and the top-billed Pete Holmes.

Westword recently met up with Cayton-Holland at the favored Baker haunt and High Plains venue Mutiny Information Cafe to discuss his post-surgery Frankenfoot and doubling down for the festival's second year.

See also: High Plains Comedy Festival explodes in Denver -- and the jokes still echo

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Of Montreal doc director on the long, winding road to The Past Is a Grotesque Animal

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Kevin Barnes prepares to go on stage.
Give Of Montreal's back catalogue even a casual listen and you'll find a little bit of everything -- glam rock, disco, psychedelia and pure pop -- sometimes all crammed into the same song. The band's main man, Kevin Barnes, is a complex and contradictory figure, creating everything from obscure characters, such as transgender funkster Georgie Fruit, to complex concept albums to raw, confessional songs that reveal some seriously dark depths of the soul. The music and the man behind it get a long, hard look in The Past Is a Grotesque Animal, a new documentary that focuses on one of indie pop's most intriguing bands. Before the film shows tonight, June 20 at the Boulder Theater, we talked with director Jason Miller to find out why the film took seven years to make, how difficult it was getting inside of Barnes's head and how making the movie affected his feelings for the music.

See also: The Source Family is a true story of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll religion

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Allen Strickland Williams on one-liners, sketch comedy and #YesAllWomen

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Kelly Rose
Allen Strickland Williams is a Los Angeles-based writer, comedian and former NBC page who somehow absorbed that office's buttoned-down aesthetic. Today Williams, along with fellow standups Jake Weisman, Dave Ross and Pat Bishop, comprise the sketch-comedy group Women, whose widely circulated videos are nibbles of absurdity dolloped by grim punchlines. Women will descend on the Oriental Theater this Saturday, June 21st for the monthly Sexpot Comedy showcase. The show, hosted as always by Jordan Doll, features standup from each member, as well as videos and live sketches. It's also a Sexpot show, with all the dab dabbling that implies. In advance of the gig, Westword caught up with Williams to discuss what makes Women's sketches different, his fondness for one-liners, and his essay about the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

See also: Dave Ross on tour mishaps, Drunk History, Deer Pile and his sketch group, Women

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