Glenwood hits it out of the comedy park
Arts and entertainment contributor
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — In his stand-up act, Denver comic Derrick Rush leaves no challenging subject left behind.
“My comedy is about family, love, marriage, divorce, kids and racism, in my own self-absorbed way,” said Rush, originally from Memphis, Tenn. “I laugh at real-life situations. The reactions to my religious jokes are always fun because I’m not forcing religion down your throat. It’s respectful and funny.”
Rush will joke about life’s funny-because-they’re-true moments in his inaugural trip to Glenwood Springs at 9 p.m. today at Loyal Brothers Lounge, 813 Grand Ave. He has performed at Comedy Works in Denver and is a regular host and feature act at the Mile High City’s Improv Comedy Club. Rush has worked with big-name comics including Tone Bell from MTV’s “Jerks With Cameras,” Roy Wood Jr. from “Sullivan and Son” on TBS, and Joe Torry, who rose to comedy fame as host of Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam.
“I simply love to make people laugh. That’s my motivation,” said Rush, of his pursuits as a career comic in Denver and on the road. “It’s great to be coming to Glenwood for the first time. It should be fun.”
Tonight’s free 21-and-older show features West Virginia native Mike Jones, a former emcee at Denver’s Improv who is a finalist in the Great American Comedy Festival at the Johnny Carson Theater in Norfolk, Neb. in June. Front Range comics Kendra Anne Thompson, of Boulder, and Dan Jones, from Fort Collins by way of Denver, are also on the eclectic Loyal Brothers bill.
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“We have a couple Southern guys on this show,” said Greeley comic Tobias Livingston, the show’s organizer and emcee. “Kendra offers a little bit of a different sensibility. She feels like she’s closer to the arts.”
Livingston is a comedy producer for his company 1748 Promotions, incorporated in December 2011. He had several reasons behind choosing the company’s name.
“It was my fraternity pin number and was the year of the dragon,” he said. “It’s also the year the first Livingston came over from Scotland. And they are four numbers that add up to 20.”
Livingston has booked several comedy showcases at Loyal Brothers over the years, taking note of Glenwood Springs audiences’ eagerness to laugh. Last month’s show opened with Boulder comic Cody Spyker, originally from Glenwood Springs.
“The Glenwood audiences are a good, diverse group of folks I like because they’re not as pretentious as the hipsters in Denver,” he said. “They like having fun, and they’re always nice. We never even need to get a room in Glenwood because people always offer us a place to stay.”
Just a block away on Grand Avenue, The Springs Theatre, home to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, continues its stand-up comedy pursuits with a second installment of monthly showcases. The first show on April 10 brought Denver-based touring headliners and popular club acts to the remodeled theater stage, including Fine Gentleman’s Club stars Chris Charpentier and headliner Sam Tallent. Aspen comic Beth Brandon, who has performed stand-up up and down the valley, opened the sold-out show.
“We had a great time last month,” host Stephen Agyei said. “The audience really just wanted to have fun.”
Agyei is a Denver-based comic with a resume that includes Great American Comedy Festival finalist, Comedy Works’ Clean Comedy contest winner and runner-up of the New Faces competition, and has worked with pro comics Dave Chappelle, Mitch Fatel, Myq Kaplan, Todd Barry, Tig Notaro and Jeff Dye. His comedy production company, The Empire of Crime, formed with Basalt business associate Ethan Wallison, is focused on producing comedy showcases at various venues and private events around Colorado. The pair partnered with the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue to produce monthly shows planned through August in Glenwood.
Today’s 90-minute show starts at 8 p.m. at The Springs Theatre, 915 Grand Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for preshow dinner and drinks.
“I expect another great turnout and stellar performances from all of our performers,” Agyei said.
Comedy veteran Deacon Gray, new talent coordinator at Comedy Works and host of Text-a-Saurus, a monthly improvised stand-up show based on audience texts at Denver’s Bug Theatre, headlines the show. In 2009, Gray won the first Great American Comedy Festival in Nebraska.
“Deacon is a 28-year veteran of comedy. He’s a tried-and-true comic,” Agyei said. “He’s clever, and his material is current, based on current events.”
The feature act at tonight’s Springs Theatre show is Brian Hocker, a regular headliner at Comedy Works who has opened for nationally touring comics Chapelle, Craig Robinson and Carlos Mencia.
“Brian is known for his inventive and unpredictable sets,” Agyei said. “He’s crowd-engaging.”
Opening the show is special guest Todd Hartley, of Basalt, a founding member of the Laugh Your Aspen Off stand-up troupe. When he’s not making audiences laugh with his spot-on impression of a French waiter and jokes about being a guy named Todd from Connecticut, Hartley is an Aspen Times humor columnist, freelance writer and KDNK Community Access Radio DJ.
Tickets for The Springs Theatre show are $25, not including food and drink, and can be reserved by calling 945-9699 and visiting http://www.gvrshow.com. The show is 18-and-older due to mature content. The Loyal Brothers show is 21 and older, and there is no cover. Doors open at 8 p.m.
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