Denver Comedian Adam Cayton-Holland to perform at The Temporary in advance of his Comedy Central special
If You Go …
Who: Adam Cayton-Holland
Where: The Temporary at Willits
When: Saturday, Oct. 14, 8 p.m.
How much: $19/advance; $24/day-of
Comedy Central will broadcast a half-hour special by Denver-based comedian Adam Cayton-Holland as part of this fall’s season of “Comedy Central Standup Presents.” But you can get a preview of the comic’s new material this weekend at The Temporary in Willits.
On comedy club stages, on television and (coming soon) on bookshelves, Cayton-Holland, 37, has become the most high-profile comedian out of Denver who is not named T.J. Miller.
With stand-up routines that offer a clever mix of absurd and observational material, Cayton-Holland has steadily risen in the ranks of national touring comedians over the last decade. He won the new talent showcase at Comedy Works in Denver 11 years ago and has been on an upward trajectory ever since. He landed on Esquire’s “Best New Stand-Up Comedians” list in 2012, made appearances on “The Nerdist” podcast and “@Midnight” and did sets on “Conan” and during the brief but brilliant run of “The Pete Holmes Show.”
Cayton-Holland also writes and co-stars on the TruTV sitcom “Those Who Can’t” about a dysfunctional trio of high school teachers. He created the show with Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy, with whom he spearheaded the Denver comedy troupe The Grawlix. They recently finished filming the show’s third season.
His memoir “Tragedy Plus Time,” about his sister’s death by suicide, is due out from Simon and Schuster’s Touchstone Books in May.
His half-hour Comedy Central special was taped in April in New Orleans and airs in the 14-show series this fall.
While his profile has grown, Cayton-Holland has remained Coloradan to the core. The Denver native and former Westword staff writer still lives in the city, got married there last November and doesn’t plan to leave any time soon. A hardcore Rockies fan, Cayton-Holland led a half-serious Twitter campaign to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Coors Field and succeeded — the team put him on the mound in 2014.
Between landing his first TV special, publishing his first book and continuing the TV show, Cayton-Holland is having a moment.
“It’s a definite shift in life,” Cayton-Holland told me earlier this week from Denver. “It’s cool that all of this happened, but I still feel pretty lucky to be able to do this. So I’m working on another TV show idea, I have movie ideas. I’m trying not to take my foot off the gas.”
These are additional excerpts of our conversation.
ANDREW TRAVERS: Congratulations on the Comedy Central special. Will the show here at The Temporary this weekend be a preview of what we’ll see in the special?
ADAM CAYTON-HOLLAND: Yes. When you get a Comedy Central half-hour, they want you to do an album, too. So I’m going to New York to record an album in a week. And that album will include the half hour from the special plus another half-hour nobody has heard.
AT: This must be a huge moment for you, getting your first TV special. How does it feel?
AC-H: It’s kind of delayed gratification because I filmed it in April. So it’s been in the can for a while. But I’m excited for people to see it.
AT: You’ve played Aspen a handful of times in recent years at the Wheeler Opera House. Do you make the rounds in mountain towns much?
AC-H: Not as much as I’d like. It’s just as my schedule allows. I end up spending half the year in L.A. working on my TV show. When I’m home I try to get up to the mountains as much as I can. Aspen gets in that mix, but not as much as it should.
AT: What are you talking about these days? What can we expect?
AC-H: All the hits: birds; roadies. Anything kind of vaguely condescending, I’ll dip in on.
AT: What about Trump? Are you dipping your toe into those waters at all?
AC-H: You have to a little bit. I don’t too much, because I’m not an overtly political comedian and other guys are doing a great job of it. But if you like Trump, don’t come to my show.
AT: Fair warning, this weekend when you’re up here its the annual John Denver Celebration in Aspen, so there will be a thousand John Denver fanatics descending on Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. Are you a fan?
AC-H: Of course. This could fulfill a lifelong comedy dream of mine of performing for only John Denvers — just 150 John Denvers blinking in unison to my jokes. Please do anything you can to make that dream a reality.
AT: How much of your creative headspace does “Those Who Can’t” take up, versus stand-up? Are you able to do both simultaneously?
AC-H: It takes up all of the creative headspace. So myself, Ben and Andrew, when we’re in writing and production mode, our stand-up suffers. Just because we’re exhausted. It’s kind of the same muscle, so at the end of a 12-hour workday or a 14-hour shoot day, you don’t want to go tell jokes. Or at least I don’t. So as soon as we wrap, all three of us just go and do as much stand-up as we can. It’s really nice to get back into that and find that stand-up comedy groove.
We wrapped season three a month ago. It’s by far our best season. I’m proud of it.
AT: Do acting and writing and stand-up all inform one another?
AC-H: Totally. Writing stand-up gets you good at writing punchlines, which makes the scripts better. Being on set helps you be more comfortable on-stage.
AT: What about the kind of personal writing you’re doing in the memoir and the journalism experience you had early on as a staffer at Westword? How does that shape your stand-up, if at all?
AC-H: I think they’re pretty different. I was a writer first and wrote for a newspaper. Then I discovered stand-up, but I still always wrote. So for me, it’s a return to probably my favorite form, but it’s a different beast. It’s solitary. Its the same self-doubt and self-loathing but just a little bit more literate.
AT: Do you think you’ll be able to stay based at home in Colorado? Are you going to have to move full-time to Los Angeles at some point?
AC-H: Every new project I write I make it so it literally can’t be shot anywhere but Colorado. I don’t want to leave here. I hate having to leave for half the year now with “Those Who Can’t.” I own a house in Denver. I’m not moving anywhere. My feet are firmly planted here and I’m from here. Your readers know, you and I know, this is a special place to live. Obviously it makes more sense to be in New York or L.A., but I’ve made it work this long and I’m going to keep doing that.
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