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On a momentous day in the Mile High City, when nearly one million revelers basked in the sweet afterglow of the Broncos’ meteoric triumph, a group of artists gathered to celebrate their own successes at the second annual Denver Comedy Awards, hosted by Sexpot Comedy.
A seismic contrast from the athletes absorbing the city’s adoration downtown, South Broadway’s Hi-Dive was a fitting venue to pay homage to a year’s worth of excellence in local comedy.
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And what a year it’s been.
“We started this last year,” says Andy Juett, the show’s organizer and co-founder of Sexpot Comedy, “just because we felt like there’s so many great things going on in this town comedically that people should be recognized for those things. And it sort of turned into a little bit of a heated, ‘What is this fake bullshit awards show?’ Which it absolutely is—that’s what it is. But it really is just another thing to look forward to every year: to get together and celebrate what everybody does.”
Emcees and local standup heroines Mara Wiles and Timmi Lasley sported snappy tuxedos and doled out cheap plastic statuettes to the evening’s winners across 20 wide-ranging categories. The award presentations were interspersed with extended sets from area comics Miriam Moreno, David Rodriguez, Jordan Doll, Rachel Weeks, and Anthony Crawford. Also punctuating the event were video drop-ins from several national touring acts, including Kurt Braunohler, Ron Funches, and the winner of the “Favorite Visiting Comic” award, David Gborie.
“Hey Denver, congratulations on your comedy awards,” Braunohler greeted. “You know I love that town, but now (that) everybody’s getting famous, getting TV shows, you win the Super Bowl, I don’t want you to start changing… I want you to stay true to who you are: You’re a city where comedians come and get so high that they can’t perform—or if they do it’s horrible. That’s Denver. And that’s what I love.”
Among the dominant categories, David Rodriguez of Fort Collins and Eagle, Colorado native Jordan Doll received the biggest honors. Rodriguez, who had a busy night hustling to and from stage, bagged awards for co-hosting “Best Stand-Up Showcase” (Comedy at the Boot, at the Boot Grill and Comedy Club in Fort Collins), “Best Use of Social Media,” and “Favorite Newcomer.”
Doll, for his part, was the mustachioed Belle of the Ball. He took home “Comic of the Year”—an award won in 2015 by Adam Cayton-Holland, the godfather of local comedy, and part of the trio that created the new TruTV series Those Who Can’t (which premieres February 11).
“We got a really cool community here in Denver,” Doll said afterwards. “And there’s so many people. When I first started doing comedy, I thought I was good; and then I started doing comedy here in Denver and I was like, ‘Oh my God! I’m really bad at comedy! Everybody here’s so funny!’ All of these people are funny, and to be on that list with those dudes… and to have my friends say, ‘You’re important to us in this way,’ and my peers say that I’m funny, these are the funniest people I know—that’s huge to me.”
While Rodriguez is focusing on enhancing the exposure of his now award-winning comedy showcase in Fort Collins—which he co-hosts with Mallory Wallace, who won the award for “Comic to Watch”—Doll plans to strike out for Los Angeles at months’ end.
The 32-year-old English major from Metro State will be sorely missed. But as the event took a halftime break to watch Cayton-Holland’s performance on Conan, Doll could very well have been glimpsing his own future.