Funny You Mention That: A Closer Look at the FoCo Comedy Scene


Grayson Reed

The crowd at The Comedy Fort waits for the show to start Jan. 26.

Cassidy DuFore Payne, Contributor

After walking through the door of The Comedy Fort, the warm air almost immediately takes the edge off the cold, crisp Fort Collins night. The moody lighting of the lobby shines on laughing faces sipping Coronas and martinis by the bar. Two employees at the stand take turns checking IDs while the line of people glance around the first comedy club in Fort Collins since 1991.


After a couple of minutes, a smiling greeter walks a group of friends to their seats in the front row. Shortly after, the group orders drinks from the bar and nachos from the next-door restaurant and partner of The Comedy Fort, Moe’s Original BBQ, the lights dim and the show begins. 


The Comedy Fort’s headliner, Sean Patton, poses while performing his comedy set.
The Comedy Fort’s headliner, Sean Patton, poses while performing his comedy set Jan. 26. (Grayson Reed)

Alongside the owner, David Rodriguez, local celebrity Dan Jones co-hosts these night shows every Thursday. The duo bursts out from behind the curtain with smiles on their faces and crack a few jokes. Then, Sam Sisson, an employee and sporadic performer at The Comedy Fort, jumps on stage for her opening set. The room was immersed in hearty laughter the entire time she was on stage. 


“It’s such a true form of connection and live entertainment,” Rodriguez says, sinking into his chair. “The energy in the room is not like anything else I’ve experienced in other mediums.”


It’s been less than a decade since Rodriguez stepped into the comedy world and almost exactly two years since he established The Comedy Fort in February 2021. Now, he hosts nationally recognized comedians, such as “America’s Got Talent” contestant Usama Siddiquee and Sean Patton, who has his own special, “Number One,” on the streaming platform Peacock. Bringing national attention to the local comedy scene is a big accomplishment for Rodriguez, whose goal is to put The Comedy Fort on the map. 


“It truly is a special place operated by people who truly love the craft,” Patton says. “The Comedy Fort does everything right. The way the room is set up, the staff that work there, and the comedians they book are all top tier.” 


Despite participating in drama club and plays in high school, Rodriguez didn’t realize his love for stand-up until 2015 when he won the Comedy Works New Faces Competition. 


“It didn’t click for me that comedy was my favorite part of it,” Rodriguez says. “I had good jobs that paid fine and was content with that. But this was a legitimate ‘aha’ light bulb-came-on moment.” 


Dan Jones, The Comedy Fort’s second-in-command, introduces the night’s acts.
Dan Jones, The Comedy Fort’s second-in-command, introduces the night’s acts Jan. 26. (Grayson Reed)

Rodriguez moved to Fort Collins 12 years ago and, before finding his passion for comedy, paid the bills as a full-time poker dealer. While pursuing a career in stand-up, Rodriguez was frustrated with the lack of a comedic outlet in Fort Collins. Until 2016, he ran comedy pop-ups at local businesses throughout Fort Collins, such as the Thursday night shows with Jones at The Colorado Room. Suddenly, Hodi’s Half Note, a music venue in Old Town Fort Collins, had to permanently close its doors. Rodriguez had hosted shows there before, and taking over the lease gave him the momentum to create The Comedy Fort. Several of those involved with the local shows, such as Jones, jumped on board. 


“We committed to this, we’re in it for the long haul,” Jones says. “If David’s a part of it, I want to be a part of it.” 


According to Sisson, investors like Jones wanted to be involved because they saw real value in what Rodriguez is doing. Rodriguez first saw Sisson perform at her second open mic at Colorado State University’s Ramskeller Pub & Grub and has been a part of her journey ever since. 


“(Rodriguez) is just phenomenal,” Sisson says. “It’s amazing what he accomplished in such little time.”  


Dave Ross performs his comedy set at The Comedy Fort.
Dave Ross performs his comedy set at The Comedy Fort Jan. 26. Ross was the special guest of the night. (Grayson Reed)

The comedians in Fort Collins share a tight-knit community, which has been crucial to The Comedy Fort’s success. 


“The Comedy Fort is legitimately one of the best comedy clubs in the country,” Siddiquee says. “The people are just down for good jokes, and the actual venue is streamlined for great comedy acoustics.” 


Rodriguez strives to make The Comedy Fort as comfortable for everyone as it is for him. He and his crew are determined to make the club more than just a place to celebrate comedy, but to give everyone an opportunity to thrive. 


“He is cognizant about wanting diversity on a comedy stage,” Sisson says. “Whenever he sees somebody, whether it’s a woman, a person of color, or a person of different gender identities, he definitely likes to give them the opportunity to showcase that there’s more to comedy than just the standard straight, white guy.” 


Laughter is the best medicine. We’re basically doctors in there.

— Dan Jones


This passion is giving Rodriguez, Jones, Sisson, and others the chance to make The Comedy Fort into a premier destination in the comedy world. Giving comedians a chance to make it in the industry and providing an outlet for both the performers and the audience is one of The Comedy Fort’s goals. 


“You have all these outlets that enable comedians to grow, not just as a comedian, but as a producer, a showrunner,” Jones says. 


David Rodriguez, owner of The Comedy Fort.

The comedians strive to be authentic and build that connection with the audience. They find that drawing from their most vulnerable life experiences produces the most successful material. 


“It’s a weird paradox in comedy that the more specific you get about something the more relatable it becomes,” Rodriguez explains. 


This authenticity allows the audience to resonate with the comedian’s experiences. The relatability of the material is pushing The Comedy Fort toward success. 


“Laughter is the best medicine,”  Jones says. “We’re basically doctors in there.” He lets out a hearty laugh, taking a sip from his comically large coffee cup.”There’s really nothing like it,” he continues. “Like the feeling when you hit a good punch line, and the crowd just laughs.” 


The sound booth at The Comedy Fort awaits the start of the show.
The sound booth at The Comedy Fort awaits the start of the show Jan. 26. (Grayson Reed)

Comedians’ experience on The Comedy Fort’s stage is rewarding enough to face the anxieties of performing. They are invested in keeping it running for, not just themselves, but the community. Located in Old Town at 167 N College Ave., it’s open every night except Tuesday, and tickets are posted on their website in advance. 


“It’s got built-in character and it’s a space that people have been enjoying live entertainment in for a long time,” Rodriguez says. “I’m honored to keep that alive here.”