Anticipating tonight’s appearance at the Morrison, Colorado, Oddball Comedy Festival stop (Red Rocks Amphitheatre), the Denver Post ran this article September 4.
Last year’s inaugural Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival tour was a fun, if dude-centric, affair that presented some of the country’s best comics on a massive stage.
And while stand-up remains a mostly macho profession, this summer’s second annual event, sponsored by Funny or Die, at least balances the equation a bit more with big-name comics such as Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings — alongside guys like Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, Hannibal Buress, Marc Maron and Chris Hardwick.
All those names and more will be on hand for the Sept. 7 Oddball date at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, but Silverman is easily one of the biggest draws.
She’s never played Red Rocks, and from what this reporter can glean, she’s never played Colorado in general in the two-plus decades since Denver’s comedy scene really began humming.
Silverman, of course, is never far from the media. A tongue-in-cheek tweet directed at the governor of Wisconsin caused a minor controversy earlier this summer within Colorado political circles. Her casual but sincere love of her vape pen (as evidenced at the Emmys) has also made her an icon in the growing legal-cannabis movement, whose heart is currently beating in the Mile High City.
We caught up with Silverman via e-mail this week to talk touring, big outdoor crowds at comedy shows, and, of course, marijuana.
Q: Does it feel like a lot of travel and trouble just to do 20 minutes of stand-up at these Oddball shows, or do you like the get-in, get-out nature?
A: I love it. I just did a special (last year’s “We Are Miracles” on HBO, which is being released by Sub Pop on Sept. 22) so I’m starting over with new material. I didn’t think I’d get to tour this soon — and to get to do it with other comedians — it’s such a treat. Touring for comics is usually so, SO solitary, so to travel and perform with good friends is a blast. I love getting to do a short 20-25 minute set. I love being a part of this festival — this traveling show of oddballs.
Q: I can’t recall ever seeing you perform at Red Rocks. Do you think the choice of venue for the Denver stop helped attract bigger names such as yourself, Louis, Aziz, etc.? I feel like we’re getting a New York or L.A.-quality lineup here as compared with some cities.
A: It’s an amazing venue and yes, I think we’re all drawn to it. It’s the home of epic shows, and I think we wanna be a part of it.
Q: What are the challenges of doing comedy outdoors and for thousands of people? I saw Dave Chappelle at Red Rocks a couple weeks ago and despite his adoring fan base, he still had a bit of trouble keeping the crowd quiet.
A: So far the crowds have been really great. I prefer an intimate crowd but the sound quality is so excellent and there are giant screens with cameramen capturing every moment in real time, so it actually feels fairly intimate considering there are over 10,000 people. And the crowds, though they are giant, are comedy fans and they know that listening to the words is the experience and laughter is the participation. Of course there are douche bags — lemme rephrase that — hurting inner children who need to yell shit out, but a surprisingly small amount considering the sizes of venues. Am I making sense? I’m sick and on NyQuil.
Q: Do you think Oddball is helping people think differently about comedy, i.e. something on par with bigger music tours and festivals? Would you like to see more events like this, or do you think that might oversaturate the market?
A: I dunno, Doll. I’m not a businessman, I’m a comic.
Q: Since I write for The Cannabist, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask: Do you plan to visit any pot shops while in Denver, since it’s recreationally legal here?
A: Maybe! I’d love to, but I never smoke before a show. Plus we pretty much get to town, nap till show time, do the show, then onto the next town. I have my vape pen, and though I am a pot person (I don’t drink), I’m a lightweight. A couple puffs when I get off stage and maybe a puff before bed is more than good news for me.