Comedians work Aspen

A look at laughs comics got off stage

Aspen, as haven of anonymity, might suit the Michael Eisners, but Comedy Fest denizens seem to need an aud even on the streets of this mountain sanctuary. Offstage, comics leave a trail of laughing bartenders, shopkeepers and restaurateurs as they work the town. Here’s a look at some past interactions:

Throwing a good fit

“Conan O’Brien came down to the lobby of the hotel with an expensive down parka that he had just received as a swag gift,” recalls Alyson Heller, director of food and beverage of the elegant Little Nell. “He was looking for someone his size — the doorman, guests, anyone so that he could get rid of this beautiful jacket,” she says. “He joked, ‘Now that I have enough money to buy anything I want, people keep giving me free crap that I don’t need.’ He was measuring the jacket on everyone. He was so funny.”

Fun guy riffs on fungi

Meanwhile, Jimmy Yeager, owner of fashionable Jimmy’s Restaurant, recalls the time Bill Maher teased one of his waiters about the pronunciation of shiitake mushrooms. “He was saying that you couldn’t say shiitake mushrooms in a restaurant because you would be swearing,” Yeager says. “He was pretending to educate my waiter to stop swearing at the table and call them ‘Bleep-take mushrooms.’ The waiter was the only one in my restaurant not getting the joke.”

Experiencing Robin’s rounds

Curious George, proprietor of a Western collectibles emporium, laughs as he recalls a Robin Williams “gig” in his shop. “He was looking for a gift for Jonathan Winters. Every time Robin picked up an antique object he would immediately get into a character,” George explains. “He picked up an old English blackjack and got into the character of a British seaman, whacking at everyone. And of course, this thing was a phallic symbol too. He just went through the store from one item to another becoming various characters. I laughed my head off.” 

Ice of local life

And there are pratfalls. Bartender Kevin Gadow at Bentley’s in the historic Wheeler Opera House can’t help but chuckle as he recalls once seeing Dick Cavett slip down the icy front steps. “It was like a full body heave set to music,” Gadow recalls. “There was nothing graceful about it. It was not pretty, but he pulled it off in the end. He got up, looked around to see if he had been seen, brushed himself and sauntered off. It was classic.”

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