Laugh Your Aspen Off: Who are these people?
Two years ago, while Dave Chapelle was doing his comedy schtick at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, Clifford Fewel also had a spot in the festival – selling tickets to the show, and listening to Chapelle poke fun at Aspen. Fewel thought, wouldn’t it be great if he and Chapelle could trade places – or at least, if Fewel could get onstage and tell jokes about Aspen from an Aspenite’s perspective? Never mind about Chapelle being in charge of the door.Figuring there would be strength in numbers, Fewel created Laugh Your Aspen Off, a troupe of local stand-ups with an emphasis on a distinctly Aspen brand of humor. The group made its debut last October at the Eagles Club in Aspen and has since made appearances from Rifle to Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House. There were some catcalls along the way, and not just from audience members. Several comedians left Laugh Your Aspen Off in a dispute over Fewel’s desire to take a percentage of future earnings. But for the most part, it has been a success, as performers have gone from three-minute gigs to 30-minute routines, and some have gotten plum opening spots for bigger acts.But this show, Fewel has decided, must not go on. While Laugh Your Aspen Off will continue to book private functions, the group makes its final public performance Saturday, Aug. 25, at 8:30 p.m., at the Wheeler Opera House. Headlining will be Ted Larson and Sam Adams, both Colorado comedians from outside the valley.”I’m not going to herd cats anymore,” said Fewel, who has given himself a seven-minute slot at the performance. “Comics are very much individual thinkers.”A look at some of the comics who have made us laugh, and think about supermarket shopping.Todd HartleyAge: 37Minutes allotted for the Wheeler performance: 4Day job: advertising coordinator for Morris & Fyrwald Real EstateBrand of comedy: Observational, based in reality. “I’m not offensive, but I wish I were. It’s just not in me.”Entertainment ambitions beyond LYAO: Creating a rock “opry” (working title: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Opry”), combining Mark Twain, Prokofiev, James Brown, Jimmy Buffett and Elvis. “And if that goes well, hopefully I can work on my punk-rock concept album.” Also, has written the screenplay, “The First Church of Lunar Renaissance,” a drama about a girl framed for murder in small-town Colorado. (The screenplay is currently a semifinalist for the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards.) And a “very rough” draft of the book, “High Country Travelogue: The 98% True Memoir of One Man’s Harrowing Climb to Adulthood.”
Tyson YoungAge: 34 (Though he insists it’s a lie. Also said he was 29, but insisted that was a lie too.)Minutes allotted for Wheeler: 6Day job: “Logistics dude for a company. But it’s part-time.”Brand of comedy: “Slightly over-the-edge and dirty. I’m the only one who’s been fired for it. I talked about the producer’s wife. Everyone laughed, but I don’t think they really thought it was funny.””A” material: “Going to yoga class. Who knew what a ‘perineum’ was?” (Answer: look it up for yourself.)
Arthur PiubeniAge: 41Minutes allotted for Wheeler: 15, and the opening slotDay job: executive v.p. and managing partner for a publishing companyExperience: Done stand-up intermittently for 20 years; member of the Screen Actors GuildBrand of comedy: “I tell stories. I don’t do jokes. It’s all current, everyday stuff – family, driving around the valley. No particular political bent.”Comic philosophy: “I never write anything down. Once I write it down, it’s not funny anymore. That’s why I jump from one piece of material to another. After I do it twice, it’s not funny anymore.Exception to that philosophy: “‘Propraprism’ – that’s what happens to your dick when you take Cialis. The bad reaction to the little blue pill. Wouldn’t you be better off going to a hooker than a doctor? You want to go to a professional. “I’ve used that one a few times.”Attitude toward blue material: “It’s not graphic. I’m married with three kids. But I’m not against using a certain three words for an adult audience.”
Don ChaneyAge: 43Minutes allotted at Wheeler: 7Day job: G.M. and morning host of KSNOBrand of humor: standard observational humor”A” material: “Calling the Colorado Road Rage Hotline and complaining that I’m still pissed off that David Lee Roth left Van Halen. And that McDonald’s french fries were better when they were cooked in lard.”Worst experience with LYAO: “My last show, when I hosted in Rifle. It seemed as if someone deemed me to be not funny or entertaining to the crowd.”Why stand-up: “It’s a great way to be artistic without having to go to rehearsals.”
Michael YoderAge: 46Minutes allotted at Wheeler: 5Day job: Caretaker of $50 million house – “a tiny little 17,000-square-foot house on six and a half acres on Red Mountain.”Brand of humor: “I try to tackle serious subjects, and inject some humor. The disparity between the ultra-rich and the working class, and the lack of social responsibility and sense of entitlement in Aspen. I’m kind of cynical. I like to pull the audience up close and poke them in the eye.””A” material: “The 70-year-old who can bike up Independence Pass, but can’t return the cart to the supermarket.”
Bob RichmondAge: 33Minutes allotted at Wheeler: 4Day job: produce department at the Village Market, in Snowmass VillageBrand of humor: “I guess I do a lot of grocery humor. Not jokes, stories.”What’s funny about grocery humor: “You get a lot of rich people who don’t know how to shop. And complain about prices a lot.”What else is funny: “Anything with Will Ferrell. I like ‘The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ a lot. Pretty much all I watch is comedy.”Beyond LYAO: “I’m working on my routine. And also on a sitcom. It would involve a grocery store.”Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org