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TJ Miller adds last minute set to Denver appearance

Comedian shows love for hometown

Photo courtesy of axs.com

Denver born and raised comedian TJ Miller added a last-minute midnight show at Comedy Works last Thursday. Miller announced on Instagram on Tuesday, March 27, that he would be adding a second show to follow his 10 p.m. set already taking place at the venue. By Thursday, the second show was sold out.

The crowd of 200 shivered for nearly an hour past midnight before they were allowed inside the venue. At one point, a venue employee stepped out to assure the slowly freezing crowd that the show was still on, Miller’s first show was just taking longer than expected. The 10 p.m. crowd eventually began to stream out from the back entrance. “You’re in for a show,”  one attendee said over his shoulder.

Miller took the stage for his second set at around 1 a.m. He looked askew in slacks he had ripped right through the crotch area during his first set, sharing that he didn’t want to change because he didn’t want to be “living a lie” by pretending that nothing happened in the first show. He then announced that this second set would be completely improvised.

Though Comedy Works has a strict policy against hecklers, many audience members could not contain their excitement, and Miller seemed delighted at the fresh, improvisational opportunity. Miller engaged with the hecklers through Denver-specific insults like, “You look like someone who works at Lids in Cherry Creek Mall.”

The show was highly interactive. At one point, Miller polled an audience member on her most recent nightmare. He used the nightmare, which related to the audience member’s high school experience, as more improvisational fuel. He re-enacted the attendee’s nightmare on stage with marionettes—string puppets that he made clear he was using for the first time. Later, he donned a monster mask and spent a great deal of time getting up close to audience members and screaming in their faces.

“I wanted that to be over so bad,” Miller said after the monster mask bit. “Halfway through, I thought about how much I wished I hadn’t done that.”

Early on in the set, Miller mentioned that he recently bought a trombone, and seemed to have left it at that. Near the end of the show, he slipped offstage and returned with said trombone, telling the crowd he didn’t actually know how to play it as he unpacked the instrument. “I was really high one night,” Miller said in justifying his $200 purchase.

The crowd shouted song requests that Miller initially ignored. “Did I hear ‘Hot Cross Buns’?” Miller said. After a toneless rendition of the popular song, he appeased the audience by playing a terrible version of “Baby Got Back.” Though Miller insisted throughout the show that this set was completely improvised, he did turn to a couple of his most popular jokes, as though he was struggling with material.

It seemed that Miller saved his creepiest prop for last. The comedian introduced a puppet and subsequently a ventriloquism act, which was interrupted by one nice heckler who shouted, “You’re awesome.” Miller, annoyed by the interruption yet somewhat touched by the kind words, turned his puppet to directly face the woman who had shouted. He screamed the remainder of his monologue without lifting his, or the puppet’s, eyes from the heckler the entire time. Miller then finished off with a pantomime of lyrical interpretation to the song “Same Old Lang Syne,” by Dan Fogelberg where he slowly exited the stage without a proper farewell.

At this point, the bar was closed, as it was nearly 3 a.m.

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