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Comedian David Brenner and the Wheeler Opera House are teaming to present a stand-up comedy series, Whats So Funny? this winter at the Wheeler. There will be four events over February and March, with an emphasis on rising young comics. Each event will conclude with a set by Brenner, a former Aspen resident, and a Q-and-A session with the performers.The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, which had been held annually in Aspen since 1995, announced earlier this year that it would not be holding an event here in 2008.The Whats So Funny? series opens Feb. 2 with New and Out There, featuring comedians Bryan Gutmann, Karen Rontowski and Ryan Stout. On Feb. 14, Joe Bronzi, Whitney Cummings and Dana Goldberg will appear in Up Close & Too Personal.Alien Encounters, featuring Billy D. Washington and two additional performers to be announced, is scheduled for March 1. The series concludes March 14 with Made For TV, with three entertainers Tim Northern, Tom Simmons and Dan Gabriel known for their acting ability as well as their onstage comedic talents.Tickets for each show are $27.50, and include a post-show meet-and-greet with the performers. A four-show ticket package for $95 is also available. Tickets are on sale at

The Aspen Writers Foundations Winter Words series will feature six events this season.The series opens Jan. 30 with a return visit by Ann Patchett, author of the 2002 novel Bel Canto, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize for Literature, and the memoir Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. Patchetts latest book, Run, a novel about a Boston family that takes place over 24 hours, had its first public reading two years ago in Aspen.Sebastian Junger, author of the 1997 nonfiction adventure best-seller The Perfect Storm, is set for Feb. 7. His latest book is A Death in Belmont, an investigation into a 1960s murder that Junger suggests may have been committed by Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler.African writers Ishmael Beah and Binyavanga Wainaina will appear together in conversation Feb. 22. Beah is the best-selling author of the recent A Long Way Gone, a memoir of his time as a child soldier in Sierra Leones civil war. Wainaina, from Kenya, is a journalist and author who founded the literary journal, Kwani? The event, at the Wheeler Opera House, will be followed by a benefit performance by rapper DMC, formerly of the group Run-DMC.Amy Bloom, whose works include the nonfiction study Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Cross-dressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude, and the recent novel Away, about an immigrant womans search for her daughter, is set for Feb. 26.Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the novels Empire Falls, Nobodys Fool and the recent Bridge of Sighs, set in a run-down town in upstate New York, is set for March 6.The series concludes March 20 with poet Edward Hirsch, whose new collection, Special Orders, is due for release in March.Ishmael Beah will appear at the Wheeler Opera House, and Edward Hirsch at the Gant. All other events in the series are at the Given Institute. Each event will be followed by an Author Salon reception for Aspen Writers Foundation members.For further information on the Aspen Writers Foundation, go to

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