Comedy Comes out of the Shadows

There has always been a small, dedicated comedy troupe lurking around Northern Colorado, but these days there are more opportunities for comedians throughout the area. 

Several different comedy production companies are lining up shows throughout Northern Colorado at breweries, distilleries and even escape rooms. And that doesn’t include the region’s only comedy club that opened two years ago, The Comedy Fort. 

“There were always rumblings around the city that someone was going to open a comedy club here, but it never materialized, so I took it upon myself,” says David Rodriguez, owner of The Comedy Fort at 167 N. College Ave. in Fort Collins, where Hodi’s Half Note used to be. 

Luke Gaston, host of open mic at The Comedy Fort.

Hodi’s is as much a part of comedy history in Northern Colorado as any of the performers who have hit the stage. The bar was about to celebrate 10 years of hosting comedy open mic nights on Mondays just before the pandemic hit, closing the bar for good.

Those open mics were where many Northern Colorado comedians got their start. Like Luke Gaston who now hosts the open mics at the Comedy Fort—yes, still on Mondays. 

“There is no way to prepare for the first time. You are going to be rushed with the fight-or-flight coursing through your system and you will either be funny or bomb, which is the way it always is when you go up on stage,” he says. “The first time I went on, I killed it. It went really well. I thought, ‘comedy is easy,’ And the next 20 times, I ate so much crap. I just got overconfident.”

He reminds would-be comedians of this frequently. “There is something so visceral when an audience is dead quiet after something that you thought was funny,” he says. 

Gaston also produces comedy showcases at local breweries and is starting a regular one at Looking Glass Escape Lounge. “There is something so great about a business that wants to host comedy and will just make it work,” he says. 

Jeff Albright at Verboten Brewing.

Jeff Albright and his LOCO Comedy company host similar showcases at Verboten Brewing, Loveland Aleworks, Crow Hop Brewery and Big Beaver Brewery. He also hosts an open mic at Slice and Roll Pizza Pub in Loveland. 

“This area has an amazing comedy scene,” Albright says. “It is very underrated. There is a real family aspect to it here.”

Typically, a showcase involves five comedians, with three doing a 10- to 12-minute set, a featured comedian doing about 15 minutes, and the headliner doing about 30 minutes. Open mics, on the other hand, are generally free to the public and involve up to about 40 people who sign up for three-minute slots. 

“Someone who gave me advice when I first started getting into it said, ‘You just need to get on stage a lot,’” says Gaston. “Doing comedy in Northern Colorado, you will get a lot of stage time. If you go to Denver, you will get two minutes at 2 a.m. talking to people who are already obliterated drunk.”

Evan Johnson performing at Crow Hop Brewery and Taproom. Photo by Dan Bublitz Jr.

Folks who do well at open mics are often invited to be part of showcases around the area. 

Rodriguez says he wants Fort Collins to be a destination for nationally touring comedians. “It used to be that people coming through Denver might come up to Fort Collins to do a show,” he says. “But I know we have a solid base here, and the word is getting out nationally, so headliners are coming to Fort Collins and then going to Denver if they have some extra time.” The club seats 125 and is often packed for Friday and Saturday headliner shows. 

Rodriguez estimates the Northern Colorado comic scene at a few hundred. “There is just a group of people who loved Fort Collins enough to stick around,” he says. ”Those people have always been the heart of the scene.” 


Jared Fiel is a writer in Northern Colorado.