If you’re a follower of Comedy Central and its Sirius XM channel, you may know Adam Cayton-Holland comes from Colorado, so, as he says in his half-hour TV special on the network, “I’m chill as (expletive).” While that may begin to describe Cayton-Holland’s outward demeanor and laid-back delivery, in a professional sense, rest assured the Denver-born comedian, actor and writer is anything but chill.
In addition to doing standup comedy when his schedule allows, including tonight at The Temporary in Basalt, Cayton-Holland produces, writes and stars in the truTV series “Those Who Can’t,” which he created with Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl, his cohorts in the Denver comedy troupe The Grawlix. And last August he released the memoir “Tragedy Plus Time,” in which he writes about the suicide of his little sister. (He also has a newborn baby to tend to at home.)
It’s an output that speaks to Cayton-Holland’s considerable drive, and it’s part of what has set The Grawlix trio apart in the thriving Denver comedy scene.
“Those dudes (Roy and Orvedahl) are very hard-working, and I am as well,” said Cayton-Holland. “A lot of people get into comedy so they never have to work again. We always treated it like a job. We were always really serious about it, and we didn’t tolerate anything less than 100 percent and a rigid work ethic.”
The results speak for themselves.
“Those Who Can’t” is in its third season; the Grawlix web series can be viewed on Funny or Die’s website; the trio have toured their act to comedy festivals around the country; and Cayton-Holland has three comedy CDs and multiple late-night TV appearances to his credit in addition to everything else. It’s hard to do all that without living in a bigger media market, and it didn’t happen by accident.
“People have this misconception that I just stood here in Denver and told jokes until people came to me,” said Cayton-Holland. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I was always going to New York and Los Angeles and using my connections to get on the cool shows where one could be seen by people that matter in those markets. I stay here because I like the quality of life here, and I love the comedy scene here, but I was never naive enough to think I would just be plucked from Denver to go be on television.”
That admirable ambition leads to a demanding schedule that doesn’t leave a lot of time for standup gigs these days, but like most true comedians Cayton-Holland gets up on stage whenever he can, even if he has to make his own stage.
“Last summer I took it upon myself to tour around,” he said. “I did like a brewery and a distillery tour, and I just set up shows all over the place. I went to Carbondale, Aspen, Salida, Ouray and Durango, and audiences came out everywhere.”
It’s a testament not only to Cayton-Holland’s rising star power but also to Colorado’s healthy appetite for standup, which is alive and well at The Temporary, a room that always seems to draw well for its comedy shows. Cayton-Holland has already appeared there once and had nothing but good things to say about the experience and the crowd.
“I loved it. They bent over backwards to make me feel comfortable,” he said. “It’s got a classiness to it, but it’s not too uptight. It’s a really perfect venue.”
All told, and combined with Valentine’s Day Champagne specials at the bar, it should make for a good crowd at tonight’s 8 p.m. show at The Temporary (tickets at tacaw.org). The audience likely won’t get to hear Cayton-Holland’s “chill as (expletive)” bit (like most comics, he essentially retires bits once they’ve been on TV or CD), but they can expect some very funny observations from a kindred mountain spirit.
“For better or for worse I kind of wear my Colorado upbringing on my sleeve wherever I go,” he said. “I was just in San Francisco playing a club there, and I have this whole bit about Coors, and the bartender told me, ‘We’ve never sold so much Coors as during your show.’”
That would be chilled Coors, of course.