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Colorado's Own T.J. Miller Serves Some Local-Flavor Comedy at The Stanley
The Denver-born comic returned home for a lot of laughs.
My home state of Colorado is known for a number of things, including its breathtaking seasonal landscapes, outdoor recreation, and sports. What we’re not really known for is producing celebrities.
Sure, there were (and are) some pretty famous people closely identified with our state. One was iconic singer John Denver, who lived here for much of his life and drew a lot of musical inspiration from it. John Elway is another.
But as far as homegrown star-talent goes, Colorado doesn’t have a deep roster. The celebs that quickly come to mind (at least for us Coloradans) are probably the South Park guys, actor Jon Heder (aka Napoleon Dynamite), and 80s metal rock-star Kip Winger.
Not that any of that matters. I doubt many people in my state have spent much time worrying about insufficient celebrity representation. I certainly haven’t. Still, I’ve found, at times, that the pride I have in Colorado stokes a certain “local boy makes good” rooting instinct. And just last weekend, that instinct kicked in upon being reminded that a comedian/actor, whose work I’ve long enjoyed, is one of those local boys.
T.J. Miller grew up and graduated high school in Denver, just a dozen or so miles from where I did. His international pursuit of comedy and theater over the next several years led him to great success in standup, television, and movies. In fact, his cinematic debut in 2008’s Cloverfield was kind of a show-stealer… as was his portrayal of Erlich Bachman in the HBO series, Silicon Valley.
But last Saturday, in his second of two sold-out shows at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, it was his Colorado upbringing and experiences in the state (of which he takes great pride) that were front and center in his comedy.
He knocked the set out of the park, adding in several hilarious observations about the Stephen King influenced venue itself… including one I’ve also been known to joke about:
Miller connected with the Colorado audience in ways other visiting comedians of his stature simply couldn’t have, and it was a delight to watch.
Experiencing Miller’s comedy is like enjoying a fast and loose conversation with a crazy friend from college. And though he’s had personal and professional ups and downs over the years, his humor and delivery haven’t missed a beat. The man remains uproariously funny.
What particularly surprised and impressed me as about Miller was his graciousness toward his fans, not only in the way he dealt with overzealous members of the audience (who wanted to be part of the show), but especially in how he took time to talk with my wife and me when we later ran into him on our way to our car.
We recognized his voice in the darkness, as he and one of the opening comedians were approaching us. When we told him, “Great show,” the most we were expecting in return was a “Thanks” or “Thanks for coming” in passing. That’s what most celebrities would have done, and it would have been plenty.
Instead, he stopped, shook our hands, talked and joked with us a while, hugged my wife upon hearing we were from Greeley (a city he touted in one of his jokes), and then happily posed for pictures. Before bidding us farewell, he even offered to take the below selfie, so that all three of us could be in the same shot. It was a thoughtful gesture, and it meant something to us.
Miller’s tour schedule is taking him overseas next, but he’ll be back doing shows in the U.S. starting in June. If you’ve never seen him live, I’d highly recommend checking him out… regardless of your origins.
Have a “local boy (or girl) makes good” story you want to share? Tell me it in an email or in the comment section below.
Obligatory Dog Shot
Earth rotation can be super inconvenient.
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The Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack from 1983 has an interesting story behind it. The movie is about a fictitious 1960s New Jersey rock band, and the film’s makers sought to find a modern band that could convincingly reproduce, with original material, a rock-genre sound from that era and region. They were successful with John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, who wrote and performed the entire score.
An unexpected result was “On the Dark Side” becoming a number one hit in the United States, and the album going quadruple platinum… which is why you can find this baby in just about every used record store today.
That’s a good thing, because it’s a fun listen.
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