The Mile High Makeout: Raising the roof for the Denver VOICEBy | May 7th, 2010 | 1 Comment »
When you think about the issue of homelessness here in Denver, you probably don’t connect it to stand-up comedy or live local music. Fortunately for us, Gretchen Crowe does. As Vendor Program Director for Denver VOICE, our city’s street newspaper, Crowe is proud to have pulled together a unique — and affordable — fundraiser for the organization, featuring comedy from Greg Baumhauer, Andrew Orvedahl and Chuck Roy, and music from Joshua Novak, Missing DuFrenes and Tin Horn Prayer.
“I just thought about what would be a fun evening for me as a patron,” explains Crowe of the genesis of the event, to be held Thursday, May 13, at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret. “I want a raucous event. I want a real comedy show and a real music show,” she explains exuberantly.
To keep the event accessible to the average joe who might not have hundreds of dollars to give, Crowe also established a graduated ticket program. Folks who want the full VIP experience — including dinner from Golden caterer Biscuits and Berries, champagne, reserved seating and the show — can drop $100 for a very full night. If your pockets aren’t that deep, however, you can opt for the entertainment-only ticket at $25, or donate $12 for just the music.
The Denver VOICE is a street newspaper that raises awareness of issues related to homelessness while also giving homeless people an opportunity to support themselves. Part of the North American Street Newspaper Association, the paper is produced by a professional editorial staff. The organization then trains homeless people in sales techniques and other skills, obtains a pledge of adherence to a strict code of conduct and then sells the newspapers to them for 25 cents each. These vendors, whom you’ve probably encountered around town (particularly on the 16th Street Mall), then sell the papers for $1, retaining the 75 cent profit to better their situations.
Crowe’s music and comedy event is a bold choice for a nonprofit like Denver VOICE. Because groups like this are more accustomed to fundraisers that include rented tuxedos and chicken kiev, Crowe — a former general manager and booker for the Oriental Theater — had an uphill battle to fight. “I had to stand up to the Board to keep the $25 ticket. And then they asked, ‘Can’t we make the comedy PG?’” she laughs.
For Crowe, putting on an event that includes high-quality local music and comedy, and then pricing it so that ordinary folks can enjoy it is simply a way to further support the Denver VOICE’s mission. “The model of our paper is to ask for a dollar,” she explains. “People can be everyday philanthropists.” Crowe found Lannie Garrett an ideal hostess for the event. “She actually bumped a show to put us in. She’s been just fabulous to work with.”
Lannie’s doors open at 6 p.m. for those with VIP reservations, with dinner served at 6:15 and a champagne toast at 7. At 7:15, those who have purchased tickets for just the entertainment will be admitted for the 7:45 comedy show, followed by music at around 9. Throughout the evening, the inevitable silent auction will give attendees the opportunity to bid on a week-long stay at a Costa Rican eco-resort, home plate tickets for Rockies games and much more.
Crowe, an avid fan of local music, really wants everyone to get the chance to see Joshua Novak, Missing DuFrenes and Tin Horn Prayer (featured in Reverb’s Steal This Track just last week) in this unique, intimate setting, so while the suggested donation for music is $12, people who show up at 9 p.m. will be asked to simply pay what they can.
Says Crowe, “Just because someone’s not really wealthy doesn’t mean they can’t be part of a cause.”