Aspen loves stand-up comedy. Back in the olden days Aspen hosted HBO's Comedy Arts Festival, a world famous stand-up event. Huge stars used to come to Aspen to battle the altitude and show off their comedy stylings.
The Aspen Laff Festival, in it's 2nd year is filling the void left behind by HBO's departure. Aspen Laff Fest presents 4 nights of first-class comedy at The Wheeler Opera House. 2 nights down, 2 nights to go and it's been a blast so far. The laughs have been fast and furious.
ASPEN LAFF FESTIVAL. (click 4 pix).
COMEDY is DANGEROUS BIZ (Click 4 pix).
The opening night "snack pack", a FREE SHOW showcasing some of the new faces of comedy was hilarious. Then HippieMan returned to the Wheeler stage, where last year he was the triumphant winner of the New Face of Comedy Award. This guy's unusual comic delivery was a BIG hit again in Aspen. Just looking at Hippieman gave the rowdy, almost capacity crowd the munchies. Opening night headliner Bobcat Goldthwait did not fare quite as well. Bobcat..., most recently a TV director and star of such 80's cinematic classics as Police Academy 2,3,and 4 as well as Shakes the Clown did not quite deliver. He tried...and he said some funny stuff...but he could not sustain the laughs. He "almost got there" commented one disappointed audience member. Bobcat got some courtesy laughs from the good natured Aspen crowd but his show was considered a bomb.
The second night opened with a bunch of comics, on stage discussing money and Wall Street. Bobcat, whose flight was canceled ( which had nothing to do with his previous performance) actually chimed in with some good laughs and Phil Palisoul added some gut busting one-liners. The panel discussion format led to some great ad-lib style comedy and allowed the comics to bash each other and the entire financial system of the United States of America. Hippieman admitted to being "off money for years". As pointed out by a friendly 1% heckler...not one of the comics had ever taken an economics class. Funny sets from Keith Alberstadt (Saturday Night Live) and Sarah Tiana kept the laughs coming. Sarah...a demure Southern Belle surprised the 7pm audience with her blue material. "C'mon people...we're talking about f#*king here". "Parliaments and a 5 hour energy...it's what's for dinner". Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show closed off the second night with tales of her Ob-Gyn and his decision to attend Clown School.
Days 3 of the Aspen Laff Fest were jam packed with laughs. The Wheeler was filled with people lookin' for levity. Costaki Economopoulos and Phil Palisoul cracked up the audience with their brand of stand-up. Palisoul was "hilarious" according to a hot chick who wanted her pic on AspenSpin. Day 3 headliner Ben Bailey, "The Cash Cab Guy" had it going on. Bailey had to fend off some good natured heckling from the peanut gallery...but he handled it well. His interaction with the audience was some of his best stuff. Quick zings about retards, 1% ers and Aspen locals allowed him to dominate.
Day 4 kicked off with the NEW FACES of Comedy. Hosted by last year's winner Hippieman, 4 relative newcomers took the Wheeler stage. Deacon Gray, Nora Lynch, Troy Walker and April Richardson battled for laughs. Troy Walker of Denver came out on top to win the New Faces audience award. Jimmy Pardo and Danny Bevins, both comedy pros revealed their best stuff and the crowd responded...by laughing. The Laff Fest closed out with comedy legend David Brenner throwing it down for an hour and 45 minutes. Brenner who holds the record for most Tonight Show guest spots of 158 first graced Johnny Carson's stage in 1969. Generally credited for inventing "topical humor" Brenner gave it everything he had. He assured everyone that he doesn't really have a huge nose..."I have a small face".
In closing out Aspen Laff Fest., Brenner thanked producers Gram Slaton and Tom Simmons for keeping comedy alive in Aspen. He stressed that "Aspen can't lose the laughter". If the 2012 Aspen Laff Festival is an indicator...Aspen will keep laughing forever.