Aspen comedian Glenn Smith opens for Gary Gulman at the Wheeler Opera House
If You Go …
Who: Gary Gulman with local opener Glenn Smith
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Friday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m.
How much: $22
Tickets: Wheeler box office; www.aspenshowtix.com
Like a lot of locals, Glenn Smith has cobbled together a living through sundry talents. In his case, though, all of his side-hustles are creative. And his multi-hyphenate professional life — as a comedian, chef, artist and fishing guide — is less random than it seems at first glance.
“That’s what public education and A.D.D. does to a guy,” Smith laughed. “I joke that I’m an expert at everything that makes no money. But you’ll notice its not comedian, artist, chef, fly-fishing guide and accountant. All of them satisfy some kind of creative need that I’ve felt.”
This weekend marks a big moment for Glenn Smith the comedian. He opens up for Gary Gulman tonight at the Wheeler Opera House.
Smith, who lives in Snowmass Village, has worked on his chops over the years in the tight-knit Aspen comedy scene — performing with the Comedy Mercenaries (now disbanded) and at venues like Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale. Two years ago he performed at the Laff Fest’s locals’ night and, during the days of HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, he once got a prime slot at the Wheeler (and once was questioned by none other than Spalding Gray during “Interviewing the Audience). He’s been doing stand-up comedy since his high school days in the Denver suburbs.
“I start with a framework of topics I want to talk about and sometimes I’ll wander off, but I’ll come back,” he said of his approach.
Given that it’s Wintersköl weekend, the crowd is likely to be mostly locals out celebrating the annual festival. He’s been crafting a set for that audience.
“I’m going to focus on local issues, local lifestyle stuff, gondola habits — the things that we, as locals, take for granted and other people want to pay for,” he said. “There’s a lot of attachment and pride in this town that we all love, and some of it is ridiculous.”
He’s written a set, but not a strict script to follow. Smith’s done enough stand-up that he’s comfortable enough to riff a bit, to read the crowd and proceed accordingly at his high-energy clip.
“My set is always in flux,” Smith said. “It’s a bit of liquid verbal lava.”
As a comedy fan, he’s a devotee of smart observational comedians like Aziz Anzari and Lewis Black (and Gary Gulman),
“I’m not a big punch-line guy,” he said.
Smith’s Wheeler gig, warming up the crowd for a high-profile, New York-based, late-night TV regular, comes in the midst of what looks like a harried winter for Smith. Last month, he and Don Stuber opened Gallery 8K on the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall. Filling the space formerly occupied by the Nugget Gallery, it showcases Stuber’s watercolors and Smith’s clever industrial-themed pieces — including some work from his solo exhibition at the Art Base Annex in Basalt last year.
The 8K is a promising bright spot — along with this weekend’s opening of the Bird’s Nest in the former Boogie’s Diner — in an Aspen gallery scene that’s grown increasingly homogeneous and less hospitable to local artists. Smith hopes to keep the gallery running in the rented space “as long as people come in and like what we’re doing.”
His artwork also will be featured in next month’s group show at the Aspen Chapel Gallery (opening Feb. 22).
On the food front, he’s been leading classes at the Aspen Cooking School this winter called “Improv Dinner” that mix his skills as a chef and a comedian (he is sometimes billed as a “culinary entertainer”).
Come summer, Smith will toss aside these gigs and go to work exclusively as a guide on the local rivers. Until then, he’ll be making art, cracking jokes and cooking up something new — sometimes all at once.
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