This year’s High Plains Comedy Festival will boast some of the hottest up and coming comedy talents in the country along with some major veteran headliners.
Last month the DHPF announced that Anthony Jeselnik would headline the August festival. Not a bad grab, especially considering comedy fans all over the country will be watching Jeselnik host Last Comic Standing in July. Jeselnik will be joined by plenty of other well known comedy talents– Kurt Braunohler, Jonah Ray, and Denver’s own Grawlix were announced last month, and now you can add Nikki Glaser to that list. But here’s another reason to head West (or East depending on where you happen to be)– the organizers of the HPCF have also rounded up some of the hottest, most respected young talents in the country. The festival line up reads like a who’s who in the next wave of talent performing all over the country.
We talked with festival co-ordinator Andy Juett about some of the great performers on the bill. Here are a few of the names and why everyone’s so excited about them. Juett saw musical comedians Drennon Davis and Karen Kilgariff perform together musically in Portland at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and called the duo “spellbinding.” They performed “The High Song” on Conan just a few weeks ago and killed. Sonia Denis was at the Crom Comedy Fest in Omaha this past May and also had a great performance at Bridgetown. She’s young, full of life, and her commentary on race relations, relationships and everything else under the sun is sharp and carefully constructed. Kate Willett is coming in from San Francisco and is one of the young comics bringing a new era of comedy to the SF comedy community. She was a huge hit at the Wild West Comedy Festival in Oklahoma City earlier this year, and “murdered for 10 minutes” on five topics she had never heard of before at the Doom Room where improvised sets were the theme. Juett called it “one of the best performances I’ve seen in the past few years in stand up comedy…and that wasn’t even her material!” She’s a force and absolutely a big part of the next wave in comedy.
High Plains is bringing in three comedians from the Portland contingent that will blow your doors off. Rylee Newton, Sean Jordan and Shane Torres have all moved on to LA now, and Andy promises they are some of the best comics you’ve seen in years. Bryan Cook hails from nearby Seattle, and has been a part of the festival every year since its inception, and has always been a big festival favorite.
Ron Lynch and Andres Du Bouchet aren’t new to anyone in the area. Andres writes for Conan and Ron does a ton of voice work, and both have become elder statesman. They’re “cream of the crop comedy minds” who you definitely want to see on stage. Everyone from the west side of the country already knows and loves Rhea Butcher who has been touring with fiance Cameron Esposito, and Denver is bringing her in on her own- she has a great hour and if you don’t know her, you’re going to love her.
Power Violence has been named by Time Out Magazine as one of 2015’s comedy acts to watch, and regularly sell out their weekly show in LA. And Sammy Arechar makes his Denver festival debut. Juett met Sammy last year at Chicago’s Comedy Exposition. He hails from Milwaukee and is a musical comedy savant. Everyone falls in love with Sammy the first time they see him (as did we, when we caught up with him last year in Chicago), and when the rest of the country finds out about him you’re all going to love him.
And needing no introduction from us, Denver has also announced the addition of some comedians we’re already huge fans of like Dan St. Germain, Ian Abramson who created 7 Minutes in Purgatory, and two of our favorite Friends of the People, the Lucas Brothers, Ben Kronberg who infamously fought with Roseanne Barr on Last Comic Standing last year, and more people we can’t wait to get to know like Noah Gardenswartz, Karl Hess, and Matt Knudsen.
Juett and his Sexpot Comedy partner Kayvan Khalatbari have been hosting some of comedy’s biggest names all year in Denver but said he decided that he wanted to showcase some of the tremendous talent that is coming up in the business right now for the festival. He’s been working with festival co-founder and fellow comedian Adam Cayton-Holland on the lineup and said, “we were in this position where we had to make a choice, Me and Adam, of do we want to only go after our most famous friends and stack the deck and make it about famous people, or to do a mix of that and have Jeselnik and all the comics that we want people to know about.” The result will be a fantastic mix, and a great way to learn about some of the tremendous talent performing today.
Sexpot Comedy has been a giant force in breaking, and encouraging gigantic talent, as well as providing a great comedy home for the biggest performers in comedy and they have exciting things in the works. Fresh off a two week trip to Los Angeles, Andy had his first headlining show at the Improv in LA on June 24th, and spent a week in meetings all over town pitching some very very cool things, that we can’t talk about yet, but everything went great and we hope to have some huge comedy news in the near future.
And as we previously announced, Kurt Braunohler, Jonah Ray, Matt Braunger, Guy Branum, Beth Stelling, Jay Larson, Sean Patton, Adam Cayton-Holland, Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl will also be at the festival. There isn’t a name on that list who we don’t insist you check out. Adam, Ben and Andrew have been hard at work filming their new comedy series TruTV in Los Angeles, so this year could be the last year you get to say “I saw them before they blew up.”
This years the festival has some incredible sponsors on board. Comedy Central is helping to make the festival great along with Denver Relief (Cannabis), Deep Eddy Vodka, New Belgium Brewing, Dulce Vita Tequila, Comedyworks Entertainment, Sexy Pizza and the festival’s biggest sponsor, Illegal Pete’s.
Illegal Pete’s Presents the 3rd Annual High Plains Comedy Festival will take place August 20th through 22nd, at venues on South Broadway and Paramount Theatre in Denver. VIP Festival Passes and tickets to the headlining show are now on sale at highplainscomedyfestival.com. The final wave of comedians, full schedule, and individual ticket sales will be announced later in July. Oh yeah and then there’s that whole legal recreational cannabis thing. Visit highplainscomedyfestival.com for details, and tickets.