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Entries in The Wheeler Opera House (5)


Aspen Laff Fest 2016: Full Disclosure

Local Comic Glenn Smith with Headliner Heather McDonald and a black guy (Tigey Eads) at the 2016 Aspen Laff Fest.I'm a simple man.  I like comedy.  In particular I like comedy that makes me laugh.  

The 2016 Aspen Laff Festival presented by The Wheeler Opera House provided some very funny moments this year. The highlights for me were Steve Byrne's set on Saturday night and The Second City comedy troupe's opening night show.  Many of us in Aspen fondly remember the days of yore when the HBO Comedy Festival was based in Aspen.  Those days are gone, but  The Aspen Laff Fest is here to fill in the laugh gaps at The historic Wheeler Opera House, a fantastic venue for stand up.   

The festival started on Tuesday night with a free Local's "open mic."   Many of the same funny local faces we've seen over the years participated, and there were a couple of new jokers too.  It's always fun to see every day people get out of their comfort zone, get on stage and lay down some jokes.  I can only speculate, but for some of the amateur comedians...10 minutes probably seems like an eternity.   It was a full house at Justice Snow's and the audience seemed to enjoy the neophyte comics.   Glenn Smith, Jonny Israel and Beth Brandon led the way.

THE SECOND CITY:   Since 1959, The Second City comedy troupe has been making the world laugh. Second City may be the most influential and prolific comedy theatre in history. At Aspen Laff Fest, 6 young, energetic Second City performers lit up the Wheeler stage.   Their sketch comedy and improvisational style was topical, timely, fast paced and very funny.  It was a great way to kick off the festival.  The comics riffed on everything from Donald Trump's hair to on-line dating in 2016.  Their "yes and" style provided an unscripted and unpredictable show.  I loved it and the audience seemed to also.

The Second City performers also provided Aspen with a series of free improv workshops.  AspenSpin's A. Party participated and may have found his life's calling.  Party's natural sense of humor, quick wit and gift of gab allowed him to shine in the workshops, according to him.   "A. Party is a funny guy" shared a second city under-study.

The Second City comedy troupe opened the 2016 Aspen Laff Fest.

HEATHER McDONALD with Will Weldon:  

You know Heather McDonald from Chelsea Lately and her highly rated podcast Juicy Scoop.  Her amusing observations on being a mommy and living with her frugal husband and cruising to Target scored her a headliner spot in Aspen.  In all farness...the audience seemed to like her show a lot.  I asked around after her set...a lot of people really enjoyed the Heather's comedy stylings.  I...the founder and editor of AspenSpin, on the other hand did not.   Yeah...I laughed a little.  I caught myself smiling. It was mildly amusing.  But I also kept looking at my watch...and I dont wear a watch.  Heather took all the mundane, day-to-day musings of a modern day mommy and turned them into a few laughs.  It's clear that I'm not her audience...but the Aspen crowd seemed to dig her.  Her warm up act Will Weldon is from Canada...nuff said.  Just kidding he did a nice job of warming up the crowd.

Heather McDonald pleased the crowd in Aspen.

























Full disclosure...I was not a Gilbert Gottfried fan going in.  After seeing him in person I can honestly say...he's not very funny.  Maybe in short spurts or in his former incarnation as the voice of the Aflac duck he can get me to laugh...but not last night.  I don't relate to his whiny, squinty-eyed, sand-paper voiced delivery.   His act seemed stale.  Even if his material was new...it felt like we had a flash back to 1985. He's been at it for a long time... so apparently some people enjoy GG's stuff...other people (like me) walked out.   I made it 3/4's of the way through his hour before I bolted.  When he announced that he was about to get raunchy...I hit the stairs.   Warm-up Jerry Rocha made 10 minutes feel like 40 minutes in an unremarkable performance. 

Gilbert Gottfried... meh.


STEVE BYRNE w/ Gareth Reynolds:

To me...this show was the highlight of the festival.  Byrne is edgy, young, hip, timely and very quick on his feet.   He's obviously a trained professional and his set was tight. It was Saturday night, and the crowd loved Byrne's irreverent commentary.  I remember laughing a lot...that is...until he called me out of the audience to join Aspen's boy band..."Sausage Party".  Yes---right there on the Wheeler stage I had my comedy debut and I actually got a few laughs.  I can't really remember any of Byrne's jokes...all I know is...it was funny as sh*t.   Warm up Gareth Reynolds (also a member of Sausage Party) was funny too.

Steve Byrne blew the roof off the Wheeler Opera House at Aspen Laff Fest 2016.

PETE HOLMES w/ Brett Sullivan:

Pete Holmes closed out the Laff Fest with a great set.  He's happy, he's funny and he's kind of funny looking too.  He is perhaps the tallest stand-up working today.  His rasor sharp humor had a positive effect on the crowd.   Lots of laughs.  Brett Sullivan, the warm up...yeah he was funny too.

In summation Aspen Laff Festival 2016 was a rousing success.  The Wheeler was rocking and the people were laughing.  Aspen Laff Fest 2017 is already on the calender for next year...so get ready to laugh.

Pete Holmes...that guy is funny.




The Temptations Crush Aspen

I've got so much honey...the bees envy me. Click 4 Pix.The old school served notice last night in Aspen. The Mighty, Mighty Temptations brought their precision dance moves, soulful harmonies and catchy lyrics to the stage at The Wheeler Opera House...where they CRUSHED.

Click 4 pix.  The Temptations

Formed in Detroit in 1960, The Temps were a crucial part of the Motown Sound which eventually led them to their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Otis Williams, the last remaining member of the original Temptations and his new band mates delivered a show that was equal parts nostalgia, musical talent and fun. The Wheeler was rocking as the Standing Room Only crowd was dancing in the aisles to classic tunes like, My Girl, Ball of Confusion, Get Ready, Can't Get Next to You, Papa was a Rolling Stone and Just My Imagination (running away with me)and more.

The Temptations displayed their tightly choreographed and highly energized professional show to Aspen.  Performed as a Las Vegas style review The Temps sang all their hits form the 60' & 70's.   The Temptations rhythm section was groovin' all night and they added in a horn section comprised of local players to complete their big band sound.

The Temps showed us how its done last night in Aspen.  Their show brought back memories and created new ones.   These guys are professional entertainers...and the crowd loved them.

Click the vids. below for a taste of the action.


Otis Williams brings it in Aspen. Big Daddy is the last original Temp. still living. Click 4 pix.

The Mighty, Mighty Temptations in Aspen at The Wheeler Opera House. Click 4 Pix.


BIG Pow / HUGE Laughs: One Day in Aspen

Aspen Laff Fest. Click 4 tix.It was one of those days that is quintessentially Aspen. Non stop action. We experienced the best POW Day of the season (without question) followed by the opening night of The 2013 ASPEN LAFF FESTIVAL.

Click 4 pix:  ASPEN LAFF FEST.

Overnight...it snowed like a mofo, like the old days in Aspen (before climate change).  Fat, fluffy, powdery snow flakes fell in abundance to the tune of 10+ inches on Aspen Mountain.   All the usual suspects were lined up at the Gondola for an early opening.   First car took off at about 8.45 (15 minutes early).Pent up demand at the Gondy

Those of us that "got some"  got it good.  Fat skis were recommended.  It was a BIG day for AspenSpin, as we found some new spots on Ajax...after 1000 ski days. Face to 6, first tracks down Bear Paw, first one's in on Silver Queen and Perry's, but that was not enough.  We finally found our way into Spar Dumps...new terrain that opened last year...but due to a dirth of snow...is not open very often.  It was open today...and it was siiiiiiiiiick. "Nipple deep" in spots.  Then A. Party got a guided tour of Pandora's Box...an infamous run off the backside of Aspen Mountain.  Honestly...I usually skip Pandy's...mainly because of it's history of death, destruction and avalanche danger...today I went for it.  Of course...I crushed it...and no humans were injured in the pursuit of POW.

After an exhilarating, challenging and tiring POW Day I was fully spent.  My usual inclination is to curl up on the couch and veg.  Not tonight.  At 4.30 The Wheeler Opera House was throwing a kick-off party for the 3rd annual Aspen Laff Festival.  How could I miss that?  I love The Wheeler and Aspen Laff Fest. is one of my favorite events of the year.  I peeled off my ski clothes, took a long hot shower, cowboy-ed up to eat, drink and laugh my a$$ off.  

Aspen Laff Fest. continues Friday & Saturday Night. 

Click for Info and tix.  ASPEN LAFF FESTIVAL.

Marion Grodin...dates outside her species.The kick-off party at The Limelight was sweeeet.  Several of the Big-time comics were on hand to supply laughs as a warm-up for the actual opening night shows.  MARION GRODIN..."I get a very Jew-ie vibe from you" led off with a very funny set.  She picked on everyone in sight including Aspen, rich people etc and then she started burning individual audience members.  She asked one lady, "do you own a place in Aspen?".  The ancient woman replied "we rent".  Without missing a beat...Marion frowned and zinged "i'm sorry" and went on a diatribe about how rich and beautiful everyone is in Aspen. Marion also admitted to "dating outside her species".

BOBBY SLAYTON who headlines the Friday night show did a quick intro & warm-up for COLIN QUINN. Slayton explained how his wife's vagina accepts American Express..."thats why its shaped like an ATM" he shared. Quinn who is famous for his stint on SNL and other TV shows is currently doing a one-man show that premiered on Broadway, Long Story Short directed by Jerry Seinfeld.  His "brainy,acerbic political scourgings" had the audience in an uproar.  His takes on bullying and the U.S. Constitution were hilarious.

After that...A. Party hit the rack...hard.

More comedy is on tap at the ASPEN LAFF FESTIVALClick 4 Pix.

Tommy O. & Robby Rob leading the Pandy's PowPow Posse.                                               Colin Quinn of SNL Fame held court at the 2013 Aspen Laff Fest Make Me Laugh. The 2013 Aspen Laff Festival. Click 4 pix.. 


Mad Hatter's Ball

The 3 finalists at The Mad Hatter's BallAs part of the Winterskol 2013 festivities, The Aspen Historical Society resurrected an Aspen tradition from the 70's...The Mad Hatter's Ball. The Mad Hatter's Ball is part competition, part fashion show, part rock show and entirely fun. 

Click 4 pix:  MAD HATTER's BALL

Earlier in the evening, The Aspen Freshman Class matriculated at the Aspen State Teachers College enduring the required class... ASPEN HISTORY 101.  Dr. Slats Cabbage and the gang from Aspen State kept the lecture fun and everyone who attended got a free beer.  The upper-classmen started to roll in later for the first renewal of the MAD HATTER'S BAll.  It was an impressive showing for sure to be annual modern-day incarnation of the festive celebration of self-expressionism.  It's pretty obvious that Aspenites enjoy any reason to dress up in costume...and they will do it at the drop of a hat.  In this case...the hats were the thing.  Over 100 Mad Hatter contestants lined up on stage at The Wheeler Opera House to compete in the "best hat" competition.  The hats were incredible, extremely diverse...and many were quite amazing.  It game down to the final 3.  The Bird Cage, the Gator, and the eventual winner...The Bell Mountain Bonnet (built to scale).  It was a fantastic show of head gear.  The contest was followed by a full on jam session from Aspen's favorite local band Jes Grew.  It was great to see The Wheeler Opera House rocking in the aisle.


The Snowball at Mad Hatter's Ball. Click 4 pix.Hats, Hats, Hats. Click for pix.3 girls for every guy at Mad Hatter's Ball for Winterskol in Aspen. Click 4 pix.Jes Grew ...backstage at The Mad Hatter's Ball. Click 4 pix.Jam Session at Mad Hatter's Ball. Click 4 pix.


Trombone Shorty Blows the Roof Off The Wheeler

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue blew the roof off The Historic Wheeler Opera House last night in Aspen.  Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews brought the "Supafunkrock" to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and packed the house at The Wheeler.  

The action on the dance floor at The Wheeler was furious...that's right, the first 5 rows of seats were removed  to allow the SRO crowd to move and groove to the New Orleans inspired beats of TROMBONE SHORTY and ORLEANS AVENUE.