A Local Performance Troupe Is Bringing Joy With Unexpected Pop-Up Shows

When your job is to perform fantastic stunts and hilarious antics in front of a crowd, times like these can be crippling. Performance artists, actors, circus groups and aerialists have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, but it hasn’t stopped them from doing work. Where other performers have taken their acts to the virtual world, Denver-based duo Cole and Mike Huling of The Handsome Little Devils are surprising people with elaborate mobile acts on the streets. They’re calling it Project Joy Bomb.

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“Project Joy Bomb is a series of socially-distanced, art-based activations throughout Colorado, with the goal to boost morale, encourage social mask-wearing, and help make staying at home a little more enjoyable,” said Cole.

But The Handsome Little Devils aren’t working alone in this. Each joy bomb will also feature other local performers, like Rainbow Militia and IRL Art, as well as calls to action to the community.

Cole continued to explain, “we are working with community leaders, neighborhood associations and city officials to bring responsible, safe and joyful celebrations to people in need. We are also partnering with multiple organizations to pair Joy Bomb events with PPE delivery, food donation pickup and mental health breaks for first responders and healthcare workers.”

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This last Friday, May 8, Project Joy Bomb surprised the health care workers at Denver Health as a shift change occurred. Costumed performers wearing masks whimsically danced or drove on contraptions around the hospital, including a showcase in front of the pediatric wing. Workers stopped to take photos and videos, like this one. It was the kind of display that epitomizes what The Handsome Little Devils do best — create worlds for people to disappear into.

Aside from the live performances, Project Joy Bomb is reaching out into other areas to deliver joy. Partnering with the Cherry Creek Arts Festival (which was canceled this year), The Handsome Little Devils will deliver art kits to the families of healthcare workers who are running a COVID unit. They are currently “in talks” with Make4Covid.co to “bring PPE to rural hospitals, along with a Joy Bomb,” said Cole. “We are also planning a couple of quarantine birthday celebrations.”

In order to make each joy bomb surprising, as well as to minimize the risk of attracting crowds of people, the exact date, time and location of the next one is never available. But you can always check into The Handsome Little Devils social media pages to watch reactions and recap videos. And perhaps most importantly, if you want to help spread the joy they are delivering, you can donate to their GoFundMe campaign.

“The Handsome Little Devils are uniquely poised to innovate live entertainment in the age of quarantine, as [we] have been creating mobile pop-up performances for years,” the duo stated. And that’s absolutely true since The Handsome Little Devils precluded many of the other “immersive” performance acts in Denver and around the state. It is with that depth of experience that they are able to adapt their performance — adhering to six feet social-distancing requirements between performers for instance — without skipping a beat. It’s always been their job to improvise, be creative and to entertain. Now they are just making sure that joy is the thing they bring to their audiences, above all else.

All photography by Marsden Media, courtesy of The Handsome Little Devils