Welcome to RISE Comedy (formerly Voodoo Comedy), Denver’s only full-time improv comedy bar and theater! We offer fun and unpredictable entertainment experiences in the heart of LoDo. RISE Comedy is the place to enjoy a wide variety of intriguing, original improv comedy, sketch comedy, Denver improv classes, karaoke and more; a well-stocked bar; and a unique, affordable night out that you and your friends won’t soon forget.
We have been performing in Denver since 2008, with The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show and Hit and Run: Musical Improv. Over the years, our passion for interactive, unscripted theater grew exponentially, and we realized it was time to expand our dreams and move into our own theater space. After a lot of hard work and planning, founder Stephen Wilder opened RISE Comedy as the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011.
Over its history, RISE Comedy has helped to raise the profile of improvisation and comedy, both in Colorado and beyond.
In 2011, the opening of the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse prompted the explosive growth of Denver’s improv community, bringing the city in line with larger improv and comedy destinations, and elevating the Denver improv community to a national audience.
In the next several years, the Voodoo hosted many nationally known improv and comedy acts, such as Kevin McDonald of Kids In The Hall, Frank Conniff & Trace Beaulieu of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Paul Brittain from Saturday Night Live, Ithamar Enriquez, Patrick Rowland, Karen Graci, Armando Diaz, Craig & Carla Cackowski, Brian Babylon of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and many many more.
In 2015, the Voodoo created its own improv comedy curriculum and graduated its very first improv students, setting the standard for years to come.
In 2016, the Voodoo facilitated and hosted the first meetings of the Diversity in Colorado Improvisation group, which promoted positive changes for inclusion & diversity in the Colorado comedy scene which continue to this day. The Voodoo also instituted its first mission statement.
By 2018, the Voodoo set a new record by donating $30,000+ in shows and improv classes to nonprofit groups and disadvantaged communities over the life of the theater.
In 2019, the Voodoo was pleased to add Nick Armstrong and Josh Nicols to the management team, as new partners and co-owners.
In 2020 and 2021, the Voodoo was able to weather the pandemic and return to live shows after 16 months of being shuttered. During this period, Voodoo Comedy became RISE Comedy.
In 2022 and beyond, we are all excited to help usher in the next evolution of Denver improv and Denver comedy!
About The RISE Comedy Co-Owners & Partners
Nick Armstrong is an Actor, Improvisor, Director and Writer. On TV, Nick has been on the Emmy-Award winning shows The Office and Grey’s Anatomy. He has also made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, New Girl, Stan Against Evil, Young Sheldon, Brooklyn Nine Nine and Parks and Recreation.
While in Los Angeles, Nick trained at the World-famous Groundlings Theater where he was a member of the prestigious Sunday Company who’s alumni include Will Ferrell, Heidi Gardner, Phil Hartman and many more. There he would study and teach improv and sketch comedy. He also studied at iO where he learned and taught Long Form Improvisation and performed on the critically acclaimed teams King Ten, COG and Kind Strangers. He was also former Artistic Director of M.I’s Westside Comedy Theater. where he taught and performed as well. Nick has taught workshops all over the world and has performed and headlined in over 60 festivals throughout the world.
Currently, Nick is the Co-Owner and Artistic Director of RISE Comedy in Denver, Colorado and Founder and Executive Director of Improv Utopia a Non-profit improv camp for adults held annually that gives back to the improv community and other arts related charities.
Josh Nicols is the Education Director and co-owner of RISE Comedy. Josh has been a professional improv teacher, producer and performer for 20 years. He has studied under instructors from iO West & Chicago, The Annoyance Theater, Groundlings, UCB, and Second City. He has performed and taught all around the country and abroad. Josh was the improv teacher at Mater Dei High School as well as working with Long Beach Poly Highschool, He also served as the Training Center Director at the Westside Comedy Theater, prior to that he was the Artistic Director/ Co-Owner of Spectacles Improv Engine in Fullerton Ca. He created and directed 7 years of The Orange County Improv Festival and is a founder and former director of The Improv Cup. He is a member of the teams Community Theater 3000, Tapestry, Laugh Track and A Bad Play Done Terribly. He has also directed full length improvised plays, which included The Awkward Party, Post Apocalyptic Bunker Comedy and Prentendessee Williams, with the Awkward Party receiving the accolade “Best Play of the Year” from the OC Weekly.
About The Founder Of RISE Comedy & Voodoo Comedy
Steve Wilder (Stephen Wilder) is the founder and original owner of RISE Comedy in Denver, Colorado (formerly Voodoo Comedy), operating since October 26th, 2011. He has been teaching, improvising and performing for 29 years, and he has been in service to the Denver and Colorado theater communities since 2009.
An alumnus of iO West and Second City Hollywood, Steve has performed with and studied under improv luminaries such as Michael Pollock, musical director of Second City Hollywood and the premier improv accompanist in the country; Shulie Cowen, the founder and director of Opening Night: The Improvised Musical in Hollywood; David Razowsky; Armando Diaz; Kevin McDonald; Craig Cackowski; Dave Hill; Eric Hunicutt; Karen Graci; and many many more.
On the scripted theater side, Steve studied at the Asolo Repertory Theater and New College/USF in Florida, and he has performed across the country and on both coasts, including Off-Broadway as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival.
Steve now operates as CTO and corporate/private workshops & events manager for RISE Comedy. He has personally deployed corporate workshops and events for companies such as Apple, Adobe, Comcast Xfinity, Chipotle, DaVita, Dell, Ernst & Young, Google, Microsoft, Vail Resorts, and many others. Steve is honored to have been chosen as the keynote speaker for the 2021 RMHA conference in Black Hawk, CO. Steve also created and runs RISE Comedy’s musical improv training program.
In addition to RISE Comedy, Steve is co-executive producer for The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show®, where he manages 10 cities across the country, as well as coordinating the websites for all 88 locations. Steve is also founder and director of Hit and Run: Musical Improv™, Colorado’s longest-running improv comedy show, which has created hundreds of fully improvised Broadway-style musicals over the past 17 years, at theaters and festivals across the country. In 2016, Steve co-founded the Diversity in Colorado Improvisation group; this group kickstarted a change in inclusivity and diversity in the Colorado improv scene, which continues to this day.
In the virtual arena, Steve operates as Lead Digital Architect for The Virtual Detective. Through The Virtual Detective, Steve has so far produced 8 full-scale digital productions, and has performed hundreds of shows for dozens of colleges and organizations across the country and internationally, including shows in Canada, Bahrain, Hawaii, Morocco, Italy, the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Scotland, and many other countries.
Steve’s comedy festival and improv festival performing & teaching credits include: Los Angeles Improv Festival, New York Musical Improv Festival, New York Improv Festival, Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival, Montreal Improv Festival, Duke City Improv Festival, Denver Improv Festival, Colorado Improv Festival.