Virtual comedy shows to watch during the coronavirus shutdown

Dark as our current predicament is, comics have always found ways to turn these things over until they catch a bit of light.

Granted, the light may be glinting off the absurdity of the situation (see Hobby Lobby’s inherently political decision to remain open during a global pandemic) or the failure of our federal government to adequately prepare for this nightmare (see every late night talk show host’s recent material).

But with most comics in dire financial straits due to their absence of gigs, are people ready to pause their TV shows and video games to plunk down money for virtual stand-up — something that relies on live audience energy and feedback, even when recorded?

Yes, said Jake Browne, a former Denver comic and producer who has been raising money for stand-ups over the last few weeks at Shows he’s been supporting include Front Range mainstays like Thursday’s Comedy Fort (from Fort Collins) and Sunday’s Boulder Comedy Show, but also Los Angeles’ popular Hot Tub showcase.

“There are millions of streaming things going on right now, so just to have a little bit of a signal boost means a lot,” he said.

“The biggest challenge right now is money,” said Helen Reicher, who runs “Many comedians work in the service industry. All the venues are shut down. Some are in danger of not reopening, like the Bug Theatre and Dangerous Theater.”

Along with Josue Flores of Goldfish Entertainment, Reicher is using, a site that normally promotes dozens of weekly local stand-up showcases and open-mics, to both raise money for comics and offer a relief fund they can apply to (with nearly $4,000 to date). Comedy Works, Denver’s nationally renowned “A Room,” is also cooking up some streaming projects that will benefit comics, owner Wende Curtis said, though details were unavailable as of press time.

For Browne and his business partner Samantha Taylor, who founded The Grow-Off cannabis competition and Fizz Fight hard-seltzer festival, online versions of popular stand-up shows provide the most immediate route to raising money for comics hurt by the coronavirus shutdown. Browne’s preferred streaming platform is Twitch, which first gained popularity as a space for gamers.

But they’re also creating new concepts, such as the original streaming talk-show “Hey Girl” — co-hosted by national headliners and High Plains Comedy Fest veterans Kyle Kinane and Matt Braunger — which is set to launch soon. (“It’s almost like a teen party line, but with them calling other comics,” Browne said.)

To date, the money raised via livestreams on his Twitch page ( has been modest — $2,575 as of this writing, not counting money donated directly to comics and shows in Venmo.

But, as Browne said over the phone this week, “One hundred percent of that money goes directly to those shows … . We even had an eighty dollar tip during a recent show, and our Saturday show for (Los Angeles’) Spoke Bicycle Cafe raised $680 in a day.”

An optional but mobile-friendly Twitch app is available on the App Store or Google Play, Browne said.

Here are some other ways to watch and support Colorado comics.

Grafenberg TV

Veteran Denver improviser and teacher Justin Franzen is keeping his Grafenberg Players going with the free, social-media-based Grafenberg TV, which he’s sharing via Facebook Live, Twitch and YouTube (search Grafenberg TV on the respective platforms, or visit for direct links). His goal is to offer daily content from noon to midnight, seven days a week, although for now the schedule’s not quite that heavy. “It’s like Comedy Central meets an old UHF station,” Franzen said via email, adding that there are already regular shows such as “Live on Broadway” (8 p.m. on Fridays), the dating show “Relations**t,” (8 p.m. Saturdays), and the daily, 10 p.m. “table-reads” of “Friends” scripts. He’s also teasing some bigger names from the improv world, both in Denver and around the country. Support performers at

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“The Grawlix Saves the World”

The Grawlix trio — Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy — may sit at the top of the Denver comedy scene (see their dearly departed sitcom “Those Who Can’t,” which ran for three seasons on truTV), but they’ve still been deprived of their bread-and-butter way of living. That makes now a good time to check in with their new, vaguely philanthropic podcast “The Grawlix Saves the World,” in which the guys attempt various self-improvement projects and sift through the hilarious results. Listen and contribute to their Patreon page for ad-free listening at Cayton-Holland said the trio is also considering an all-online version of their popular monthly showcase at the Bug Theatre for April.

Denver Comedy Lounge

After roaring out of the gate in October, RiNo’s Denver Comedy Lounge has moved online with a daily, talk show-esque chat at features music and jokes from principles/regular hosts Anthony Kapfer and Ben Kronberg, as well as pre-recorded, edited Friday and Saturday sets (at 7 and 9 each night) that re-create their popular showcases at “We’re also working on setting up a Zoom show where we can basically do the edited show, but live,” Kapfer said this week. While the shows are free, Kapfer also has been setting up donation-based Eventbrite “tickets” for the Facebook shows to support comics, while weekend livestreams feature an on-screen Venmo link that also goes toward supporting artists and performers.

Join @benkronberg, @anthonykapfer, and special guests every weekday at 5pm MST for an Instagram Live show! FREE (but donations can be made on Venmo @DenverComedyLounge). Brought to you by @rhythmicrebellion, @bigtopstudios, and @coloradosakeco

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Phone It In Film Festival

Even after it debuts at 8 p.m. on April 1 on, comic Zac Maas’ Phone It In Film Festival will by nature be available to enjoy long after the fact (see past winners and submissions at Hosted from Denver, the festival will feature 30, mostly comedic films from around the country that people can watch and vote on. The only catch is that they need to be under 2 minutes — and have been made entirely on one’s phone. Viewers will be able to donate as it streams via Twitch, although Maas said he is working on a longer-term way to support artists who submit. “Just like every year, I’m always surprised by how much time people put into stuff,” Maas said. “But it’s funny, because even the (bad) stuff is almost kind of good, too, since it’s all under two minutes.”

THIS THURSDAY (NOVEMBER 9th) is the last day to submit your cell phone produced film masterpiece for the 2017 Phone It In Film Festival at LFX Filmworks, happening this Saturday 11/11! Come be a part of the action! All films must be shot on a phone (that means phone, no go pro) but can be edited with anything. Films must be no longer than 3 minutes. The winners will be determined by you, (the audience)! You can work as a team or solo. You do not have to be in attendance to submit. #phoneitin #phoneitinfilmfestival #denver #denverfilm

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