Doug Benson’s 4/Four present in Denver has been postponed, however you may smoke with him on-line
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As much as you want to celebrate, it’s probably best to cap your 4/20 circle this year. Most organizers and promoters schedule virtual shows and events (ignoring the Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas events) to limit exposure, and while one of cannabis culture’s favorite comedians won’t let us down this April, he’s also keeping us safe.
Doug Benson had planned a 4/20 set in Denver last year but then postponed the gig to a 4/20 show in 2021, which was canceled in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. Although he hopes to finally be able to perform live here on April 20th, 2022, Benson has since gone online and has hosted two podcasts as well as Doug Benson’s upcoming Comedy Sesh, an evening with stand-up, game shows and an after-hours session April with RushTix. We caught up with the top-loving comedian to talk about the status of online appearances during the pandemic and the impact of 4/20 on comedy.
Westword: How do you think comedy is appropriate for virtual shows compared to other live performances? They already do this in a similar fashion through podcasting, and the concept of providing stand-up to a streaming audience sounds logistically simple enough – but audience engagement is important to many stand-up comedians.
Doug Benson: Comedy goes well with a virtual show because you can tell jokes from anywhere. But for me the best part is that people can watch from anywhere. When I do a show, it’s usually in a club, in a city, and that’s the only place I can see it. I can only play so many clubs and cities so there are a lot of places that people might never see me live. And don’t worry, heckler: you can leave comments for the comedian to see. Of course, Hecklers can be kicked out just like in a comedy club. You don’t have to be a big guy to get a job as a bouncer in a virtual club.
On the other hand, I imagine that virtual shows also allow for more cannabis-centric performances … or is that usually easy to incorporate on stage at live shows?
I’ve only smoked on stage a couple of times, in places like Canada and Amsterdam. The only thing I remember doing these shows was having a good time! So yeah it’s nice to be able to smoke bowls while doing my show. People would be disappointed if I didn’t!
Has the appetite for virtual shows changed in the last year since the pandemic started? Is 4/20 Usually a Bump on the Calendar for Live Comedy?
Until last year, I had recorded a stand-up show or podcast on April 20th every year. I tried to get it going so that different cities got a 4/20 show. Denver was supposed to be the 2020 show and then the 2021 show, and now I’m waiting to see if we can make it there in 2022. But as I said, because of the pandemic, I’m just doing a show from home. Maybe next year I can do a live show in Denver and a virtual show for the rest of the world. Big dreams!
Speaking of April 20, it’s no surprise that you have something special planned. Which games or sketches are the viewers looking forward to?
I’ve done a couple of shows with Rushtix called Doug Benson’s Comedy Sesh, so it seemed a perfect fit for my 4/20 show this year. There will be guest comedians doing the sets and playing some games from my Doug Loves Movies podcast with me. And [for] During the games and jokes, we spend a few hours with tokens. I don’t know how long this show will be, but the last one was over four hours!
Did 4/20 develop the same relationship with you as it did on Christmas Day with NBA players who are always expected to perform on our beloved holiday?
I love to perform and I love to come up. It’s a win-win situation!
Bonus question: Was the best week ever before its time? Many of its elements are popular in today’s pop culture.
I loved it back then, but now it would be mostly about RHU (Real Housewives Universe) which wouldn’t be fun.
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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.