Friday, August 11, 2006
Happy to be Blue in Denver
I have lived in Denver a mere 2.5 months and it wasn't until tonight that I began to feel like a local. Weeks ago, after reading a compelling feature in the Denver Post, I bought a single ticket to see Josh Blue at The Gothic Theatre on 8/11/06. He was voted favorite local comedian in a recent poll and I thought it would be cool – as a cheerleader of all things comedic – to support a talented Denver fellow making his dent in the world through laughter.
This was weeks ago. Meantime, JB managed to actually be the last comic standing on the NBC show, "Last Comic Standing" – declared just last Wednesday. Tonight was his first performance since grabbing that title.
Because of his 'standing,' they were filming a DVD of tonight's show and the atmosphere was celebratory. Josh looks like any other Colorado stoner and he is, but also, he is not. Josh has cerebral palsy (while I am merely drunk) and uses his jerky condition as fodder for his act. In fact, he declared a cure would surely ruin his life at this point, "Well, there goes my gig." The above photo shows Josh as a U.S. soccer team member in the Para-Olympics, not to be confused with the Special Olympics. "We play for medals, not hugs," Josh insists.
Ah, The Gothic Theatre. Ceilings painted sky-like, the venue is a Denver legend, despite its location in nearby Englewood. Known as the first theatre in the area to show talking pictures, it is a holy church of entertainment. A band plus a few other comics came out first to warm up the crowd ("Hippie Man" was an especially big hit) but it was Josh the crowd wanted. With all the hovering boom mikes and fancy cameras plus his recent win, the atmosphere in the room was sheer pride, absolute love. (Walking to the theatre from where I'd parked, I passed a small house just behind The Gothic - sprinklers were on and kids were jumping through them. In the window were pasted four large letters made from blue construction paper: J-O-S-H.)
Josh arrived with his shaggy blonde locks, his famous jiggy right arm and the crowd jumped to its feet, so wildly proud of his accomplishment – local boy makes good – great, even. It was at that moment I felt a small membrane of my world melt through. As I stood, clapping wildly for a comedian I had never seen, I felt like maybe Denver was a place I was going to know, would grow to care about, be proud of. I felt the first inklings of being a true citizen.
Sure, Josh was funny but that wasn't even the real point of the evening; Josh was HOME. There was so much affection in the room, it was practically squeezable. I have been an audience member many, many, many times and rarely have I felt that kind of emotion. The last time I recall such glee was when the White House blew up during a July 4 screening of 'Independence Day' – mind you, this was all pre 9/11, before such things were tinged with reality.
I left the theatre with a huge grin, and deliberately walked past the line for the next show, just so they could be assured that good times were ahead. I then stopped to notice an artfully lit-up church (a sure sign of God's love) across the street. I had passed it many times and always admired its steadfast steeple amongst the Burger Kings and Brakes Plus along Broadway. I was supernaturally drawn to it, in my Jack Daniels stupor. All the doors were locked, except one, which, turns out – was all I needed.
I entered the dark chapel and walked straight to the first pew. I plopped down next to an empty tithing basket and thought about the evening, about my life, about the world – both past and present. I felt small. I felt marinated. I thought about Josh. I thought about Israel. I thought about Lebanon. I thought about my ex-boyfriend – all of them. After 20 minutes or so of staring at the cross, taking in the silence of an empty urban church (I think it was Baptist, not that it matters,) I stood to announce: "God just isn't here." And I left.
I'm pretty sure, He was at The Gothic, waiting patiently for the next show.