Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Aaron "Ukulele Loki" Johnson

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Colorado Public Radio
OpenAir weekend morning show host and man about Denver, Aaron "Ukulele Loki" Johnson.
#41: Aaron "Ukulele Loki" Johnson

Aaron Johnson, aka Ukulele Loki, blithely changes hats every day: A musician, emcee extraordinaire, activist, lapsed public-school teacher, Denver County Fair freak-show host and radio host for Colorado Public Radio's OpenAir (as well as a co-founder of Boulder's Radio 1190), Johnson moves and shakes to a different drummer, all the while twirling his waxed mustache. We asked Johnson to share what makes his wacky world spin; keep reading to learn more.

See also: Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Heather Dalton

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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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To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Should Police Departments Use Twitter for Social Networking?

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If I could have one and only one social network from any time in the history of the Internet, I would choose Twitter. Keep in mind, I'm saying this as a person who thought about writing a book about how awesome MySpace was in its heyday of the early 2000s. But there is no comparison between MySpace and Twitter: Nowhere else on the Internet can you interact with your friends and your idols simultaneously. Musicians, writers, actors, artists, politicians and pretty much anyone alive that you consider fascinating is on Twitter right now.

Corporate companies, news outlets and government agencies have also found ways to utilize Twitter -- which can prove interesting. If you're a Tweeter already, then you know the inherent perils these behemoths face when interacting with the public social network -- like when U.S. Airways accidentally tweeted a pornographic photograph to its millions of followers and an hour passed before the airline realized what had happened and took it down.

And how about when local police departments use Twitter? Is there a certain protocol that government agencies should adhere to, or do they get to use the Internet just like you and I do?

See also:15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit, Part 1


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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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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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The Ten Best Comedy Events in Denver in November -- and a Bonus

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As the holiday season approaches, the entertainment calendar for November has plenty of comic delights for giggle gobblers. Sidling up to a table richly dressed with top-notch performers, local comedy fans will be heartily stuffed and belly-sore by the month's end. With options including a Denver comedy institution celebrating its fourth anniversary, two of The Daily Show's most accomplished correspondents dropping in for grand theater shows, club sets from movie stars and comic heroes alike, as well as a truly exceptional month of programming from both Comedy Works locations, it's a moveable feast of funny all November long. Keep reading for our top ten comedy events, in chronological order, with a rescheduled bonus at the end.

See also: Five Best Horror Franchises to Marathon-Watch This Halloween

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Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Taylor Gonda

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Taylor Gonda, at the mic talking pop culture for These Things Matter.
#52: Taylor Gonda

When it comes to popular culture, Taylor Gonda talks a great game. As co-host of the local podcast These Things Matter, she chats about music, movies and other obsessions with celebrities both local and sometimes national. But there's more to Gonda than These Things Matter: A regular contributor to Denver's storytelling spotlight The Narrators and the woman behind the man for Adam Cayton-Holland's My Dining Room Table podcast, she also spent more than six years as a director and behind-the-scenes ensemble member of the defunct and sorely missed Paragon Theatre company. We invited Gonda to talk up what rocks her rapidly spinning world; find out more from her 100CC questionnaire, which follows.

See also: Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Kevin O'Brien


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Whatever Your Preferred Social Network, It's a Choose-Your-Own Personality World

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Youtube.com
Oh, how I miss scene queens, and the weird social networking world of the Myspace of yore.
If I could pick only one social network to be a part of, it would be Myspace. Not Myspace now, the revamped site for "entertainment" types with its trying-too-hard layout and useless content. No, I'm talking about the Myspace circa 2006, when it was a place where I could find out about my friend's band's shows, stalk current and ex-boyfriends and their current and ex-girlfriends and, of course, post my vague, immature bulletins (this was before we were all acquainted with the concept of the newsfeed) in the hopes that the right pair of eyes would see my stabby words. Oh, and let's not forget the site's blogs, the feature of Myspace I used to become F-List celebrity famous for writing horrible things about people.

Any time a new social network appears or a change is made to an existing one, I immediately start daydreaming about old Myspace again. When Ello appeared on everyone's radar last week, I began my mental trip back in Internet time. Though I don't think Ello will be exactly the replacement I'm looking for, its very existence brings up a great couple of questions: What and who are we presenting on each social network and why are we there in the first place?

See also: Jeffree Star dishes on celebrities, tattoos and perfection

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Meet Ello, the Social Network Created Right Here in Colorado

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ello.co
If you have been anywhere near the Internet in the past week, you've probably heard about Ello, a new social networking site that's still in the Beta stage. But it's picked up a lot of steam as Facebook users started jumping ship after Facebook announced its "real name" policy -- which drag performers and other members and allies of the GLTBQ community charge is dangerous and discriminatory.

Ello's Denver-based programming team is is spearheaded by Paul Budnitz -- the guy behind vinyl toy maker Kidrobot, which moved its headquarters to Boulder in 2010 -- along with Mode Set and fellow Colorado designers Berger & Föhr. We recently chatted with Mode Set's Justin Gitlin (also known around town as music and multimedia artist Cacheflowe) to find out what, exactly, Ello is all about -- and how it's been affected by the recent Facebook move.

See also: CacheFlowe Releases Open-Source Robot Vocal Software to Welcome Our Digital Overlords

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