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Boulder Comedy Festival puts local and diverse performers center stage

//Comedian Zoe Rogers organized the Boulder Comedy Festival taking place June 24-27, with five shows in Boulder and Louisville. Photo provided by Rogers and taken by her husband. 

When people think of the quintessential stand-up comedian, they tend to think of a twenty-something white guy with a five o’clock shadow, wearing a dirty sweatshirt and making jokes about the indecipherable creature that is the human woman. 

But the stand-up comedy scene has changed drastically over the last several years. The trope of “women aren’t funny” is slowly fading into the black hole of outdated stereotypes. The face of comedy is becoming something totally different than what it was in the early to mid-2000s—fewer “cringy” offensive straight, cisgender white men and more women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. These new faces are grabbing featured spots in big comedy festivals and specials on Netflix and HBO. 

Comedian Zoe Rogers has taken notes and is ready to bring that fresh take on comedy to Colorado with the Boulder Comedy Festival, which takes place the weekend of June 24-27, with shows in Boulder and Louisville. The lineup is a mix of local and national talent, with 21 featured comedians. The collage of talent on the website looks nothing like the typical big-name comedy festival. Every part of the gender, race, sexuality, ability and age spectrums are represented. 

“It’s important to have all of those people in a show,” Rogers said. “It’s just about giving everybody a platform and having representation on stage. I think that if you don’t have that—if you have nine straight white guys in the same hoodie—that’s what everybody thinks is funny. That’s what perpetuates people saying things like, ‘You don’t look like a comic.’ There’s not one gender or race that owns funny; it’s a universal thing. But if you don’t put people on the stage, then people don’t know that.”

Rogers has been cultivating the perfect lineup in her head for years. As she started approaching people about the idea, she got several resounding “yeses.” The long list of local acts includes Shanel Hughes, BK Sharad, Katie Bowman, David Rodriguez, Sherri Harper, Eeland Stribling, Dorell Green, Bradley Garcia, Apples, Ricky Ramos, John Novosad, Chris Fonesca, Mandy Kay and Rogers herself. 

“The comics in the festival are diverse with different perspectives, but they have a few things in common,” Rogers wrote in an email. “When I saw them, they each had a joke that stuck with me, that I wanted to share with my husband when I got home at night. The other thing that a lot of them tend to do is talk about topics that you wouldn’t immediately think would be funny but wind up drawing the audience in and making for very personal and vulnerable material.”

Like many 2020 events, Rogers had to postpone the comedy festival due to COVID-19, but now that the infection rate is dropping and vaccination rates are up, she says people are ready to get back out into the world. With four of the five planned shows outside, the comedy festival is taking safety precautions very seriously. 

Although planning for the festival this year started in February, Rogers also mentioned that Boulder especially could use some light-hearted laughter after the March 21 shooting. 

“I think everybody was so isolated and stressed and depressed and dealing with a lot of uncertainty,” Rogers said. I feel like the shows that I have been to physically now, the people who are coming out are very present; they’re very much listening. They’re happy to be laughing with other people. It’s been a lot of terrible stuff going on all over the place, but certainly in Boulder. I just feel like the world could use some laughs. The more comedy festivals the better.”

 

 

The Boulder Comedy Festival spans the weekend of June 24-27 with shows in Boulder and Louisville. The coordinators also recently added a brunch show on Sunday. Sponsors of the event are Colorado Sound, Johnson and Klein PLLC, Tiki on Main and By Dusty. General admission tickets for the events are $15-25.

Click here for more information.

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