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Vail Comedy Show: A year of laughs

Casey Russell
Vail Daily
From left: Adam Cayton-Holland, Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl wrote, produced and starred in their TruTV sitcom about a Denver high school, “Those Who Can’t.”
Patrick Wymore | TruTV

One year after launching, Vail Comedy Show is keeping the laughs going, even if organizers have had to do it virtually since the coronavirus pandemic. This month, the show is celebrating with a collection of Colorado comics, including headliner Adam Cayton-Holland, and a commemorative poster designed by a Colorado artist and standup comedian. Get access to the free virtual show at 5:30 p.m. today by RSVP at vailcomedyshow.com.

“This is a neat show,” organizer and event emcee Mark Masters said. “I’m really excited to have them all come together.”

For this one-year anniversary, Masters wanted to pay tribute to all the Centennial State-based comics who make Denver one of the best comedy cities in America, right up with Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City.

This month’s lineup includes Brandt Tobler, David Rodriguez, Stephen Agyei, Christie Buchele (who headlined the October 2019 Vail Comedy Show), D Kelley, Jordan Doll and Nora Lynch. Artist and illustrator Geoff Tice designed the poster.

Tice, also a standup comedian, has drawn a lot of posters for comedy shows in Denver, but has pivoted away from those projects after doing so many of them. When Masters reached out to him to draw a commemorative poster for the one-year anniversary, he was excited to blend his old pastime with his favorite inspirations: sweeping Colorado vistas.

“I got inspiration from driving through Vail Pass and seeing the bike path. Every time I drive through, I love winding through on (I-70), you kind of wish you were down there,” he said.

The poster is a 12-inch by 16-inch print and is available for purchase on vailcomedyshow.com.

Comedic headliner Adam Cayton-Holland is naturally the most recognizable name on the bill, especially for fans of his three-man comedy group the Grawlix and their TruTV scripted comedy show “Those Who Can’t.”

He and his partners in the Grawlix, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy, wrote, produced and starred in “Those Who Can’t,” one of the network’s first forays into scripted comedy television in 2016. The show ran for three seasons, and centers around three troublemaking teachers in a Denver high school.

One of Cayton-Holland’s favorite moments was when Mark Hoppus, bassist and vocalist in Blink-182, cameoed in an episode. As it goes on shoot days in Hollywood, everyone, including Hoppus, showed up early in the morning. Projects took time and they didn’t even get around to shooting Hoppus’s short segment until 3 p.m. Everyone hoped that Hoppus didn’t feel like they were wasting his time.

“He was so funny and cool, he’s hanging out on set telling stories,” Cayton-Holland said.

He riffed off scenes and helped ad-lib more plotlines for his character.

“He recognized that this was a group of friends having fun and making funny stuff,” Cayton-Holland said.

He must have recognized that three-dudes-screwing-around vibe from Blink-182, especially in its early days, where he, guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge and drummer Travis Barker wrote cheeky punk songs about being a teenager.

Beyond guest appearances and exciting moments on set, the best part about shooting a TV show with his friends, Cayton-Holland said, was the novelty of it all. Grawlix had never had this type of opportunity before.

“It was this long-shot TV show success story. We were really excited. We surrounded ourselves with good people — people from ‘Arrested Development.’ People from Hollywood may have been whatever level of cynical or burned out but our level of enthusiasm was infectious. It became a really fun set,” he said.

To that end, he, Orvedahl and Roy always kept in mind how grateful they were to be sharing their comedy with national audiences.

“We kept that in mind, how lucky we were to be doing this the whole time. I think that kid in a candy store mindset made the TV show really fun,” he said.

Grawlix is still working together, now in podcast form. The Grawlix Saves The World podcast started in January but coincidentally has allowed the group to still share comedy during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it’s a testament to how much I like Ben and Andrew, and how much we like each other, that even through a TV show and the stress of that, the first thing we do is ‘OK, let’s do another project together,’” he said. “We weren’t planning on a global pandemic, but as a comic, in the back of your mind, you’re like ‘the world could end any second.’”

Cayton-Holland also founded the High Plains Comedy Festival in Denver. Performers in that festival have also worked with the Vail Comedy Show. He also published a book in 2018, “Tragedy Plus Time: A Tragi-comic Memoir,” which explores his sister’s suicide through therapeutic and comedic lenses. As a lifelong music fan and “indie music nerd,” he’s enjoyed working with indie record label Saddle Creek to put out the label’s first comedy vinyl.

“I’ve loved that label for years. It was really cool that a label that you really respect and admire wants to work with you,” he said.

Saddle Creek is most famous for working with Bright Eyes and Conor Oberst, and currently has Hop Along, Big Thief, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Tomberlin, Sam Evian and others signed to the label.

Cayton-Holland is honored to be celebrating one year of the Vail Comedy show.

“A year of being widely regarded as excellent is a really noteworthy achievement, and I wish him many more,” Cayton-Holland said.


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