By Sir Taylor Higginbotham, Esq.
Taylor is a founding force in the local comedy scene, and The Brave Boys live comedy podcast at Dan’s SilverLeaf has become a cornerstone. We asked this local Comedy Godfather to scoop us on Denton’s exploding comedy scene, offering some hot picks and insights for those of us looking for laughs around town.
You’re hip. You clicked ‘interested’ on a lot of Facebook event pages. You want to know what’s going on in Denton. If you’re like me, and pray you’re not, you want to know what the Denton Comedy Scene (patent pending) is up to monthly. Because comedy is cool now or something. Netflix has made it possible for everyone to watch more stand-up than they ever would have 5 years ago. I mean forget anyone that tried to make a go at it before this comedy boom.
Now most people consider themselves ‘comedy nerds’. Even if they don’t do comedy. They’ll go out to a local show and mentally compare every comic to someone that has been doing it for 15+ years for 15+ thousand a night. It’s fair. I’m sure they don’t expect the same from that completely unique punk band they IG’d at that dope house show the night before.
I’m rambling. Ugh.
It’s not glamorous. Those comics you see streaming everywhere are great, they’ve fought their asses off to look calm, collected, and off-the-cuff. I’ve personally been at this for 5 years and I shudder at the thought of doing 25 mins on stage. I can hardly do 15 comfortably (please come to my shows).
It takes work. Putting yourself out there; saying something in front of strangers. You know it isn’t going to be perfect, if anything, you think it sucks. You have to reorganize it, reword it, rewrite it, act out more, act out less, cut it, draw it out, build to it, build from it, expand, condense, measure the pauses, wing it …
All while the butterflies in your stomach are pushing your heart into your throat. (I don’t know much about anatomy). But it’s fun … and painful, but what isn’t painful that’s worthwhile? As an added bonus, from my experience, comics are the best friends you can have. You just have to yell louder than them.
There are a lot of people doing comedy in Denton, intestinal butterflies and all.
If the previous paragraph didn’t scare you away, these are the places you can practice comedy and support comedians.
Kicking off the week for those of you looking for a good time after church, long-time comic Joey Johnson hosts a wonderful fuckin’ mic: The Bearded Monk Open Mic every Sunday at 7pm (sign-up at 6:30). It’s mostly a comedy mic, although there have been a few musicians there to perform and give everyone time to step outside for a smoke. There is rarely enough seating, in fact, if they are not outside smoking, the comics are standing in the aisles smelling $40 beer candles. The staff is great and so helpful even if you “only drink Curz Light”. It’s a fun mic with an extremely relaxed audience.
Another mic you can bring your religious grandma to is the Dusty’s Open Mic at 10pm hosted by John Brown, this mic is the epitome of a ‘late mic’. Dark atmosphere and no real stage. Really the only thing that makes it an open mic is that there is a mic plugged in. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy yourself. John is a great comic and host, people are there working on material, and I’ve heard the audience can be a little rowdy. What better way to practice self-defense?
Every Monday at 7pm, Colton Jones hosts The Wine Squared Comedy Open Mic on the beautiful back porch of Wine Squared. Featuring an all-day happy hour (All Glasses Half Price) a unique and intimate atmosphere, and a constant cast of regular performers and loyal fans. The Wine Squared Open Mic is one of the coolest places to see comedy in Denton. Most weeks Colton will also bring in a musician to "play the list" while that week’s comics arrive and get ready to perform. Can you tell I didn’t type that?
Dusty’s and John Brown are back with Dusty’s Storytelling every Wednesday at midnight.
A little different format and crowd than you would get at a comedy open mic. Those that sign up are encouraged to tell long-form stories instead of jokes. Most comics, just convert their jokes into stories.
The mic that started it all: Killer’s Tacos at 6:30pm. Well, for most of us anyway. The reason people annoy Joey Johnson with the title of “The Grandfather of Denton Comedy” is this open mic. It has been the central hub of comedy in Denton since before I can remember. (Whatever that means. You get it.) When someone tells me they want to try comedy, I tell them to go to Killer’s first. Every comic is very supportive of first-timers. Joey started hosting way back when it was The Whitehouse Open Mic or something. That doesn’t matter now. NOW it’s a taco shop. Affectionately dubbed “white people tacos” by regulars, they are definitely food … AND BEER! You can’t go anywhere in Denton without a good selection of beer. This is my personal favourite mic for reasons that would take too long to type.
Open mics are the Planet Fitness of weekly comedy shows: everyone’s sweating/trying not to make eye contact, someone gets kicked out for throwing the mic, there’s a pizza party for some reason. Everyone is trying to get in shape for the big shows.
If you have never been to a comedy show in Denton or otherwise, I think it’s important to note that most (if not, all) of the shows put on in Denton are free of charge. You get to see the best North Texas and elsewhere have to offer, in your town, no drink minimum, down the street: for free. Dallas and Ft. Worth comics make fun of Denton people for saying things like ‘walking distance to my house’ and Denton natives make fun of DFW jerks by charging $5 less for every drink in Denton.
The point is: this city is … has always been great for supporting artists and entertainers. Now comedy is in the mix and you have a chance to see the next class of relatively famous comics in your town for free. Do it now before you miss these brilliant performers or before they build a Whole Foods and double rent. The following is a list of the biggest shows Denton can handle right now.
Backyard On Bell
Joey Johnson is show running the upcoming comedy showcases at Backyard On Bell. Are you tired of reading his name yet? He’s kind of a big deal.
The first one is August 1st at 9pm with plans on making it a regular show.
Joey has a stellar line up of comics ranging from high energy self-deprecation to low energy self-deprecation. With an uncommonly intimate space and dangerous drink specials, Backyard On Bell makes for an exceptional venue for laughter.
Harvest House Comedy Show – Last Wednesday of every month
This one is a little near and dear to my heart. A couple years ago, we tried to put on comedy shows at Harvest House. They were going through admin changes, we were busy starting up the North Texas Comedy Festival, they were worried about the subject matter scaring off customers, it was a whole thing… Long story short (even though I already typed it): it was bad timing. We really wanted to book comedy there because the bar is far away from the stage and inside so it doesn’t drown out the performers, the atmosphere is stunning, and the stage itself is arguably the most impressive in Denton … hell the whole DFW area. So after some time and some desperate renegotiation on our parts, Brad McKenzie and I put on our first comedy show to rave reviews August 6th 2017. Since then, we have been improving our formula with the help of The Breakfast Boys (a group of local DJs you definitely need to check out). Come see what all the fuss is about the last Wednesday of every month.
The Brave Boys Podcast Live! – Every Tuesday
Every Tuesday at 10pm Brad McKenzie, Robbie Scheer, and myself host The Brave Boys Podcast Live! at Dan’s Silver Leaf. We hand-pick a comic every week and then sit down and chat/yell/act-out ridiculous scenes with them on a chosen topic (but usually way off the chosen topic). We’ve done about 60 shows since we’ve started last year and I think we get better after every show. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s at least 60 times better than most comedy podcasts. The venue is near perfect for comedy and the audience is arguably the best/rowdiest in Denton. If you want to listen at home the podcast is out on all major podcast apps including Spotify and iTunes. You can only hear the featured comedians set if you’re at the live show.
Convenient Comedy – Wednesdays (bi-weekly)
In May 2016, I contacted the owners of Midway Craft House. I thought it would be funny to put on a comedy show in the aisles of a convenience store to an audience and unsuspecting customers. My aim was to help new local comics break out of the 5-minute monotony of open mics. And thus, the Convenient Comedy Shows were born. It seems to have worked because these shows are still going on with new comics taking the reins and putting their spin on how the show is put together. With that said, it is easily the fastest evolving comedy show in the area. Think about that when you’re sitting in the audience next to the condoms drinking a craft beer.
Above is a list of the shows and mics I know that are happening now. I’ll try to keep it updated as things change.
When I started performing in Denton in 2013, it was a small, hard-nosed scene with a pool of incredible young talent. We worked together to make Denton what it is now. Doing everything from throwing house shows to packing music venues. Now that ‘class’ of comedians are getting old; moving on to bigger shows, bigger cities, and the greener pastures of less relevant material with the new ‘class’ right on its heels. Denton has always been known as a music town, but with the rising interest in local comedians and comedy shows, Denton should be known as a place that supports artists that work their asses off.