Comedy event blew rooftop off the Wheeler |

Comedy event blew rooftop off the Wheeler

John Colson

I believe the City of Aspen has an obligation to make us laugh occasionally, and I was glad to see that obligation fulfilled recently.

No, I’m not talking about the antics of the city council, which every Monday night provides more guffaws and proof of insanity than a Seinfeld re-run.

I’m referring to the recent Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, which debuted at the Wheeler Opera House last weekend.

I only went to one show, partly because I tend to shy away from comedy shows in this town after some bad experiences in which the comics weren’t all that funny and I ended up feeling more embarrassed for them than they did. The emotional wake left behind by those nights was a kind of perpetual-downer influence on me; I hear “comedians in town” and my mind translates that to “oh, hell, they’re gonna flop and I’ll feel so bad, I might as well not go.”

For the Rooftop thing, however, I and my spousal unit got an invite to go for free, and we hadn’t been out on a date in so long that we’d forgotten how. So we decided to give it a shot. After all, the worst that could happen is that we’d get to tell each other for years to come, “See, I told you so. Next time I suggest we go to a comedy show, please either tie me up and gag me, or threaten to leave me if I make you go.”

But that’s not the way it happened, and I’m glad as hell I went.

The show we saw was on Friday, May 30, and it was called “Rooftop At Large,” hosted by a sporadically hilarious gal named Alexa Fitzpatrick who joked about sleeping with a ski instructor, a common way to earn “the grownup girl scout badge” that probably would result in nothing more serious than “an uncomfortable conversation with your doctor.”

Okay, it’s not all that funny in this format, but she made me laugh, and so did the three others on the bill that night ” skinny punk-boy Chris Porter, seriously funny “brown man” Vince Morris and whacked redhead Robert Hawkins.

As I just proved, the jokes of the evening won’t really translate well to my column, but hearing Porter riff about “cock-blockin’ bitches” or Morris describe nearly wrecking his car when he heard a rap-style radio ad promoting prostate cancer screenings, left me weeping and nursing some sore jaw muscles when it all was over.

The same was true for Hawkins, who followed Morris and was the last act of the evening, and Morris was a tough act to follow. I mean, I hadn’t caught my breath yet when Hawkins got started, and he started a little slow.

But by the time he was describing how redheads are the true oppressed minority ” “You think it’s hard being black? Try being pink for 30 seconds. I mean, … I turn red burning CDs.” ” I was back to gasping.

Yes, it was a good evening. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, and I think the last time was more hysteria than humor, so it was a needed break.

As I said at the outset, I think our city government fulfilled some of its obligation to those of us living and working here, an obligation to make life at least somewhat bearable at least some of the time, when it put on the Rooftop festival at the city-owned Wheeler.

I want to thank Gram Slaton, executive director of the Wheeler, for pulling it off, not to mention Tom Hill, Will Rogers, Andi Smith and Joshua Sanderson, the team behind Rooftop Comedy.

And I’d like to urge anyone interested in what I’m talking about to check out the website, for a short clip of these three goofs and many more.

As for the future, I hope Slaton doesn’t have to work too hard to convince the city that comedy festivals need to be given time to catch on. Sure, there were small crowds at some of the shows last weekend, but they will grow, as long as the quality of the talent is at least as good as it was for this first effort.

So, keep ’em coming, and we’ll keep laughing.