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Denver 2022 comedy guide: From Amy Schumer to John Mulaney and Chris Rock, the best stand-up at Red Rocks, clubs and more

Colorado comedy festivals such as High Plains and the Chief fest in Trinidad are also coming back

Chris Rock accepts the Hollywood comedy film award on stage at the Hollywood Film Awards at the Palladium in Los Angeles in November 2014. The stand-up returns to Colorado this year. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Chris Rock accepts the Hollywood comedy film award on stage at the Hollywood Film Awards at the Palladium in Los Angeles in November 2014. The stand-up returns to Colorado this year. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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Denver’s 2022 comedy calendar is more crowded than ever, so here are some curated picks to help you sort through the biggest and best stand-up events of the year.

Most shows are 21-and-up; check individual websites for details. You also can view a running list of local shows at 5280comedy.com, and visit denverpost.com/calendar for more.

RELATED: Denver’s desperately needed 2022 comedy revival is here, and not a moment too soon

Denver comic Janae Burris does well in pretty much any venue, from hosting Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheatre to slinging jokes at a biker bar, which makes her April 16 taping at the Aurora Fox Arts Center such a treat. She’ll record her first-ever special, “Long Overdue,” before the comic, actor and TV host takes a break after having a baby (due later this month). Shows at 7 and 9 p.m. April 16. $30-$50 (the $50 ticket includes two drinks). aurorafoxartscenter.org

Tig Notaro lived in Denver for a time, but didn’t begin performing stand-up until she decamped to L.A. — where she quickly met Kristen Schaal (“Bob’s Burgers”), who happens to be from Longmont. Ah, the synergy. Now a force on streaming TV (Amazon’s “One Mississippi” and Paramount’s “Star Trek: Discovery”) and also a voice actor, Notaro remains a stellar stand-up who can flatten audiences with the most subtle of intonations and expressions. Her sets are a master class in deadpan humor. Notaro’s “Hello Again” show comes to the Paramount Theatre April 14. $39-$49 (with limited tickets as of press time). ticketmaster.com

Patton Oswalt, one of the funniest, most beloved and most influential comics of the last two decades, returns to the Paramount Theatre May 14 to catch us up on his life, which has been topsy-turvy in recent years while he’s dealt with the death of his wife, solo parenting, remarriage and a busy acting and writing schedule. He has, in my experience, never performed anything less than an excellent set. $45-$75. ticketmaster.com

If you haven’t heard of Chelcie Lynn, who gained online fame a few years back as Trailer Trash Tammy, get ready, because she’s coming for you. Lynn, who will perform at Comedy Works South at the Landmark April 13-16, is shooting a prank show, lining up more film cameos (see “Tangerine”), and consolidating her hundreds of millions of streaming views with merchandise and branding. $35-$85. comedyworks.com

Actor Craig Robinson, one of the stars of “The Office,” at a Hollywood premiere for the movie “Peeples” on May 8, 2013. He will visit Denver’s Comedy Works, April 7-9, for multiple sets. (The Associated Press)

Also worthy at Comedy Works: “The Office” co-star Craig Robinson (at Comedy Works South, April 7-9); Comedy Central roastmaster general Jeff Ross (April 8-10); Nick Swardson (April 14-16); John Novosad, a.k.a. Hippieman, who has a great new album (April 27); Henry Cho (south club, May 6-8); Doug Benson (May 8); Michelle Wolf (May 12-14); Adam Carolla (south club, June 24-25); Tammy Pescatelli (south club, Aug. 18-20); and stand-up queen Maria Bamford (south club, Nov. 20-22), among many others. Various times and prices. Visit comedyworks.com for the evolving calendar.

Comedy Works Presents, the club’s booking arm, has several big shows from touring comics that you can find on their websites — they’re just not at the Comedy Works clubs. That includes Chris Distefano (Paramount, April 9); Mark Normand (Paramount, May 7); trailblazing veteran Rita Rudner (PACE Center, April 10); Anjelah Johnson (Paramount, April 15-16); Paula Poundstone (Paramount, April 29; see below for more on her); and Kathleen Madigan (Paramount, June 4). Time and ticketing details for all shows are also available at comedyworks.com.

The Denver Improv — which has been more of a complement to Comedy Works than competition since the national chain opened in Northfield in 2007 — has upcoming shows from Lynne Koplitz (April 8-9); Stone Cold & The Jackal (April 14); Eddie Ifft (April 15-16) Nick Shelton (April 21); Cowboy Bill Martin (April 22-23); Antoine Scott (April 29-30); and King Bach (June 17-18), among others. Various times and prices. Visit denver.improv.com for details.

John Mulaney returns to Red Rocks Amphitheatre for the first time since the Oddball Comedy Tour played there in 2014 — and for his first headlining gig in the intimidating venue. As he proved in 2014, the Emmy-winning, deadpan (and lately very-in-the-news) comic and former “Saturday Night Live” writer has a knack for commanding his audiences, and these “From Scratch” tour shows should be no different. Shows at 3 and 8 p.m. on April 17, $79-$350. axs.com

Comic Paula Poundstone — with her observational, self-deprecating humor and commentary — returns to the Paramount Theatre this year. (File photo, provided by Comedy Works)

Stand-up, improv and public-radio veteran Paula Poundstone performs a different show every time she steps on stage, leaning heavily on the mood and ideas of the audience to craft her sets. It makes sense that they’re such a consistent pleasure when you consider her spot on NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!,” her books, and her podcast “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone” (haw!). April 29 at the Paramount Theatre, $37.50-$75. ticketmaster.com

Trinidad boosters have lately been hard-pushing the New Mexico border town as Colorado’s next arts enclave, with millions in investments from Denverites moving there to escape what they complain are high rents, traffic and pollution in the Mile High City. That’s potentially creating the biggest audience yet for the Chief Bicycle & Comedy Festival, which references both Trinidad’s historic rail line (the Southwest Chief) and its biking culture (also burgeoning). Creator Wally Wallace and his backers have booked dozens of comics to take over the town’s smaller venues — and expand to Raton, N.M., for the first time — with national and local acts Eddie Pepitone, Emma Arnold, the Grawlix (Denver’s Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy, of truTV’s “Those Who Can’t), Babs Gray, David Gborie, Gabby Gutierrez-Reed and more. May 5-6. $20-$160 for passes; $30 for individual shows.. thechieffestival.com

On the internationally known side: Hannah Gadsby, who cleaved the stand-up world in two with her invigorating one-woman-show/”stand-up” set “Nanette,” will bring her new “Body of Work” to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House on June 2. Influential comic Chris Rock, who absorbed Will Smith’s Oscars slap like a champ, returns to Bellco Theatre June 21 to dissect relationships, race, politics and himself. And Tom Segura can lay claim to Colorado’s biggest stand-up show of the year (so far) with his appearance at Ball Arena on July 23. Various times and prices. Visit ticketmaster.com or axs.com for more.

Amy Schumer, a lightning rod long before her Oscars co-hosting gig last week, returns to Denver for the first time in four years as part of her “Whore Tour.” Having recorded her 2017 Netflix debut “The Leather Special” at Denver’s Bellco Theatre, the Emmy-winning writer, author and actor should be right at home for her quartet of sets at the smaller but no-less-prestigious Paramount Theatre. Limited tickets available, Aug. 27-28. $99.50. ticktemaster.com

Former High Plains Comedy Festival headliner and stand-up Maria Bamford is coming back to Comedy Works in September. (Provided by Guinivan PR)

Denver’s High Plains Comedy Festival has over its eight years evolved into one of the country’s most notable stand-up and podcast events, with live tapings, showcases, reunions and headlining shows at the stately Paramount Theatre. Even while hosting heavies such as David Cross, Karen Kilgariff, Maria Bamford, Marc Maron, Kumail Nanjiani and Anthony Jeselnik, the event still feels indie, given its main perch along Denver’s hip South Broadway corridor, but also because of its affordable tickets, smart booking and curated local lineups. Performers TBD. Sept. 8-10. See more soon at highplainscomedyfestival.com.

“Weird Al” Yankovic’s storied career may seem improbable at times, but the master musical parodist has stuck to his guns through all manner of pop-culture battles and come out looking smart (also: silly, and intentionally so). He’ll stop in Colorado with stand-up opener Emo Philips for shows at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House (June 3-4) and later, at Colorado Springs’ Pikes Peak Center (Sept. 6), Grand Junction’s Avalon Theatre (Sept. 7) and Greeley’s Union Colony Civic Center (Sept. 9). Various prices. Visit weirdal.com/tour for details.

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