Denver’s growing live comedy scene will get one of its biggest boosts yet when the city’s first all stand-up festival debuts on South Broadway this summer, Reverb has learned.
The High Plains Comedy Festival, scheduled to take place Aug. 23-24 at rock clubs the Hi-Dive and 3 Kings Tavern, as well as Englewood’s Gothic Theatre, will feature local stand-ups alongside national headliners familiar to fans of Comedy Central, MTV and late-night talk shows.
Curated by Denver comedian Adam Cayton-Holland, of the Grawlix comedy troupe, and producer Andy Juett, the High Plains lineup is decidedly focused on mid-sized comics who have done well at Denver’s Comedy Works clubs and non-traditional venues such as the Bug Theatre, the Deer Pile art space and the Squire Lounge.
So who’s going to be there?
According to Cayton-Holland, confirmed artists include Kyle Kinane, Rory Scovel, Sean Patton, Nikki Glaser, Beth Stelling, Bryan Cook, Kate Berlant, Ian Douglas Terry, Andy Wood, Amber Tozer, Jake Weisman and Kurt Braunohler. All have played Denver in the past as guests of the Grawlix troupe’s monthly showcases, the Andy Juett-produced “Grapes of Rad” shows at the Gothic Theatre, the Fine Gentleman’s Club “Too Much Fun” weekly showcase, and others.
More will be announced in the coming weeks, Cayton-Holland said.
“It’s still loose-knit and we’re adding stuff all the time,” he told Reverb. “This is just the first round. But these are definitely connections borne of friendships. These people really get what we’re doing in our scene and have embraced it.”
Cayton-Holland said he and Juett are also considering holding an ongoing open-mic session at the Hornet on South Broadway during the event, as well as adding industry panels and daily podcast sessions, which would be recorded at the festival’s home base of 270 S. Broadway — the site of the newest Illegal Pete’s burrito restaurant. Illegal Pete’s and its indie-music/comedy label the Greater Than Collective have released albums from Cayton-Holland and fellow Grawlix members Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy in recent months, and will act as the marquee sponsor of the festival.
“In the past year Denver has had the Too Much Funstival and the Nix Brothers’ Laugh Track Festival and those have been smashing successes,” Cayton-Holland said. “They were beyond their expectations, and I met with all those guys and they’re all down to help us out with this one. It’s not necessarily a Voltron-like experience of forming together and putting all these festivals together in one, but they’re on hiatus and everyone has said, ‘How can I help?'”
Denver’s close-knit comedy scene has always benefited from the national-caliber Comedy Works clubs, but its indie and alternative-leaning comics have also made strides in recent years with popular web series and, in the case of the Grawlix troupe, prestigious festival and late-night TV spots on shows like “Conan,” as well as a pilot deal from Amazon Studios (for the Grawlix show “Those Who Can’t, which was apparently not picked up by Amazon for a full season, despite being the highest-rated show among online viewers. More details on that to come).
“This is going to be a real Denver effort,” Cayton-Holland said of High Plains. “I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I’m also not the dumbest, and I think this is overdue for Denver. Comedy’s becoming more connoisseurial, just like music, and Denver’s a dynamic city in that regard. That said… we’ll see how it goes.”
Cayton-Holland and Juett are also planning on booking various local comics to round out the 15-20 national headliners for High Plains.
Check back here for updates on the lineup, ticket prices and more.