When it comes to stand-up comedy, “Denver has always been a do-it-yourself scene,” says Denver comic Ben Bryant. With this knowledge, Bryant set out to do just that and started Denver Comedy Underground (DCU). Perceptive Sherlock-like readers might deduce that Denver Comedy Underground would be located underground, and they would be absolutely right. The venue is located at the corner of 14th Ave. and North Williams Street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. There you see the beautiful and historic building that is home to the Althea Center For Engaged Spirituality.
Journey to the side of the building, through the double doors, adorned with the Flower of Life, and descend the stairs into DCU. 303 Magazine sat down with Bryant to learn more about the genius business-naming comedian behind the operation and talk about what DCU stands for, and its place in Denver.
Denver is home to one of the best stand-up comedy scenes in America. The proof lies with many big-name comedians choosing Denver as the filming location for comedy specials. Bill Burr, Tom Segura, Iliza Schlesinger, Brian Regan and Roy Wood Jr. are just to name a few. Adding to that, Denver Comedy Works is consistently ranked among the top clubs in the country. While big names and large crowds are definitely a large part of the stand-up scene, Denver’s more local and underground comedy is where the culture lives and breathes. Nowhere is that idea more prevalent than at DCU. 303 Magazine is no stranger to DCU as they have appeared in our series on comedy shows to check out in Denver.
Bryant talked about his love for comedy and DCU and what makes it stand out from the other clubs in Denver. “We bring in local, national and rising talent with occasional celebrity talent, though that isn’t really our focus… And I think we’ve succeeded in giving people a better comedy experience here in Denver,” says Bryant.
Committed to that idea, Bryant uses his platform to showcase the best that the city has to offer. The venue hosts multiple shows every week with Bryant hosting most of them. Shows range from headliners to secret shows with surprise talent. Add the fact that it is comic-owned and run, it’s easy to see what makes DCU such a unique and special part of the city.
While DCU has helped push comedy into the public since it opened 15 months ago, it is part of the bigger picture that the Denver comedy scene has exploded in recent years. Bryant told us his own experience with the growth, “When I first started comedy (10 years ago) there was comedy works, and 4 open mics you could do a week. Since then and thanks to the examples set by the Grawlix and Fine Gentlemen’s Club, it was possible to do your own thing.” Bryant then went on to talk about what the scene looks like now with roughly 16 open mics a week. “That’s a 4x growth in eight years which is massive.”
The city of Denver has such a vibrant spirit with creativity and community engrained into the streets just waiting to be discovered, and DCU is just one shining example of the comedy that exists. The world can be a little heavy at times, and a good laugh can be one of the best ways to alleviate that, along with some good pizza of course. Luckily, DCU also gives a bonus perk to patrons with free drinks and free pizza.”It’s 20 bucks on the weekends. We try to focus on the comedy more so and the audience experience,” says Bryant.
With a deal like this and a guaranteed night of laughs, Denver Comedy Underground is one of the hottest spots in Denver to spend an evening. Readers can head here for tickets and to see upcoming shows and more.