Last laughs? |

Last laughs?

ASPEN ” HBO’s discontinuation of the U.S. Come­dy Arts Festival here may not spell the end of comedy in Aspen.

The decision not to host a 2008 USCAF in Aspen ” and the uncertain future of the event in any location ” was made official only Friday, and already Aspen arts presenters are thinking of filling the void.

“There’s no reason, with the resources we have here in Aspen, between the Wheeler Opera House and the other venues, that we can’t explore putting together a festival for that time period,” said Gram Slaton, execu­tive director of the city of Aspen-owned Wheeler, a principal venue for the USCAF. “I’ve asked for data from the city regarding retail and service industry sales for March of the last two years, so that we can get a very clear idea of the financial impact of the Com­edy Festival.”

Michael Goldberg, owner of Belly Up Aspen, also could see getting involved in a replacement for the 13-year-old USCAF. Belly Up has hosted the festival’s stand-up events for the last three years.

“Sure, I have an interest in something to replace it. Comedy, or something,” said Goldberg. “Aspen has lost something that had a lot of tradition. There ought to be something, and I don’t know what it is yet. I certainly have an interest in talking about it.”

Goldberg has a history of replacing Aspen entertainment institutions. He opened Belly Up to invigorate Aspen’s music scene after the 2003 closing of the Double Diamond club.

Stewart Oksenhorn’s e- mail address is

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