The Denver Comedy Underground Story

As the most unique comedy club in Denver, it stands to reason that Denver Comedy Underground also has quite a unique origin story. From founder Ben Bryant getting a taste for on-stage comedy performance at UNC Greeley and hosting outdoor shows in front of local passersby on Colfax Avenue to surviving the Covid-19 pandemic and hosting some of the nation's biggest comedians as crowds were allowed to return, the story of our club is one of perseverance and a true love of comedy's roots in backrooms, basements, speakeasies, and local communities all across the country.

Humble Beginnings

Founded in 2019 in the backroom of a now defunct Irish bar, Denver Comedy Underground earned its reputation as a truly underground operation from the start. Thanks to a savvy investment in a most unlikely asset (a sealed Nintendo first-edition copy of a Super Mario game) and the subsequent windfall that came with selling this rare item, founder Ben Bryant was able to take his dream of running an independent comedy club in Denver and make it a reality, even through tumultuous times as a pandemic ravaged Colorado and the rest of the nation.

Emerging from the uncertainty of Covid-19, Bryant struck a deal with the fine people of the Althea Center, a known mecca of sorts for improv acts and theater shows that occurred regularly in its basement. Featuring 120 seats and an intimate atmosphere that is unlike any other comedy club in Denver, the home of Denver Comedy Underground has now become an iconic destination for local and national stand-up acts, all while the historic building above recently celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022.

Denver Comedy Underground founder Ben Bryant.
Denver Comedy Underground founder Ben Bryant.

At the Forefront of the Denver Comedy Boom

As Denver Comedy Underground's reputation and prominence has grown, so has that of the local comedy scene here in Denver. Thanks to the work of Bryant and the team here at Denver's hottest new comedy club, as well as other great local venues that place a focus on cultivating an inviting comedy atmosphere, the opportunities in the Mile High City for regional and national touring comics has grown exponentially in just a few short years.

"It's like I'm doing something right…" - Gabby Guitierrez-Reed on her time on stage at Denver Comedy Underground.

With this rise of opportunities also comes interest and recognition. As acclaimed comedian and actor Gabby Guitierrez-Reed notes, something as seemingly benign as stepping on stage in a church basement has become a validating experience for aspiring performers. "It's like I'm doing something right," she says of her time on stage at Denver Comedy Underground.

A Unique Tradition and Commitment to Countless Laughs

Aside from the unique venue that is one-of-a-kind across the bustling Denver comedy scene, a commitment to excellence and unique offerings on stage also has helped bring more eyes to comedy at large in Denver – and more patrons to the basement of the Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality who are willing to do the unthinkable (put away their phones for 90 minutes) and enjoy living in the moment.

From secret shows with surprise talents to headliner comedians coming in hot off of Netflix and Comedy Central stand up specials, every night at Denver Comedy Underground features unforgettable moments and a special atmosphere that hearkens back to the early days of "underground" comedy shows. Thanks to this unique blend of must-see events and the tight-knit local Denver comedy community, Bryant and the rest of the Denver Comedy Underground team have transformed an empty church basement into one of the most consistently packed venues in town.

Denver Comedy Underground crowd.
Image courtesy of Jesse Greene, Westword.

Looking to the Future for Comedy in Denver

As exciting as the story of Denver Comedy Underground has been thus far, Bryant and the rest of the comedy aficionados working hard behind the scenes are nowhere near done elevating the local comedy landscape. Of course, giving away any big upcoming surprises here would not be in the impromptu and improvisational spirit of the fastest rising comedy club in Denver, so you will just have to stop by and see for yourself what happens next at Denver Comedy Underground.

Learn even more about Denver Comedy Underground's rise to prominence in the local comedy scene with in-depth coverage from two outstanding local publications, 303 Magazine and Westword.

Local Comedy Thrives Thanks To Ben Bryant and Denver Comedy Underground

by Devin Fisch

How Ben Bryant Turned a Church Basement Into a Packed Comedy Club

by David Gordon