Andrew Orvedahl and Adam Cayton-Holland to record comedy albums at the Bug Theatre
I hear the holidays are a particularly difficult time of the year for comedians with outrageous material -- there are plenty gigs to do, but they all have to be clean.
Orvedahl: At Comedy Works you have to be clean for the entire month of December.
That sounds depressing.
Orvedahl: That's their policy. I'm not even that dirty of a comic, but that is the way I talk sometimes when I'm having fun, and there will be customers in the audience who don't want to hear it. And so to have that in the back of your head, it takes the joy out of it.
What would be the ramifications of just being like "fuck it, I'm gonna lay the filthiest shit I can think of on this corporate audience"?
Orvedahl: Bad reputation in the area. And the booker won'T be able to trust you for the next show. Sometimes people will ask if I have any comics that would work for their gig, but they have to be clean. And I have friends where I'm like, this person's funny, but I can't trust them to be clean.
But that's why our show at The Bug is so great, because it straddles those two things. It's a cool, nice venue with a bar, but we still have fun. It's a sweet spot between legitimacy and good comedy. It's not a cold, concrete floor Rhinoceropolis-type place, but it's not a comedy club.
So how long have you two known each other?
Andrew Orvedahl: As long as we've been in comedy.
Adam Cayton-Holland: I'd say about eight and a half years. I met him at the Lion's Lair, which was where I got started at the open mic.
Orvedahl: It was the best sort of open mic, because it was never that good. But Troy Baxley did a great job hosting and he was so supportive -- it was just good practice, telling jokes in front of drunks who didn't care. It was good place to cut your teeth.
Cayton-Holland: It was my first night there. I saw Andrew on stage and I was like, "Oh, he's good." But he'd only been doing it maybe six months longer than I had.
Since you were both Denver natives, did that give you a leg-up in the local comedy scene?
Cayton-Holland: There are no legs-up in standup comedy, in my opinion.
Orvedahl: Everyone starts out humbled, on their knees, in front of everyone. I've never seen anyone who's started with an advantage. If you had something going in your home-town comedy scene, and then you move to a new town, those credits don't transfer. It's all about what are you doing right now.
Cayton-Holland: It may have helped initially because we had friends who could come to our shows. But you tax that crowd real quick. Especially if you're not getting any better.
Orvedahl: When I first started there was that T-Rex Highway construction project, and all my jokes were about that--
Cayton-Holland: Local flavor!
Orvedahl: --And it crushed because everyone hated that construction project. So I had an advantage knowing about that.
Cayton-Holland: Yeah, Andy started pandering from day one.
Orvedahl: [Laughs]. I was throwing out Broncos jerseys, handing out frosty Coors Lights.
The comedy scene has grown so much in the last five years, but when you two first got started was there even the opportunity to perform regularly, even at open mics?
Cayton-Holland: Not really. There was the Lion's Lair on Monday night, and then Greg [Baumhauer] started the Squire on Tuesday. But there weren't as many mics as there are now.
Orvedahl: But there were a lot. I remember there being somewhere to play most nights.
Cayton-Holland: That's the thing, there's always some sports bar on Havana that's having an open mic. But no one would've been aware of it then because [comedy] wasn't as cool as it is now.
In the music scene, an open mic is typically some earnest college freshman playing Bob Marley and Pink Floyd covers. Do you think there's as much cynicism about open mics in comedy?
Orvedahl: Open mics can be a pretty terrible experience. Because you're given a very small amount of time, and you don't have much material. But then the MC will be like "Yeah, keep going." And it's like, yeah, keep eating shit.
Cayton-Holland: They're a necessary thing. It's where you learn. But it's always a nice point as a comedian when you realize: I don't have to do open mics any more. Unless I want to because it seems like fun.
And I assume it's a good place to try out new material.
Orvedahl: And that's what they're supposed to be for. They're a place to test-drive material, just to say it out loud. It doesn't matter if people laugh or not.
Was the turning point when you began doing Los Comicos at Orange Cat?
Cayton-Holland: We originally started Los Comicos at Old Curtis Street Bar. For about five people. That was back in 2005. There were noble attempts at something cool -- it was half good, half awful.
Orvedahl: We put a lot of effort into it. We dressed up. We were in the back of a dive-bar putting on suits, about to do a news segment. We had a theme song. We were all in.
Cayton-Holland: So we were doing that at Old Curtis, it was stupid, and fun, and the crowd was getting bigger. And then I became friends with this guy who was running the Orange Cat, and he wanted us to do the show at his space. And when we took it there, that's when it started getting cool.
With the physical medium of recordings now morphing into digital formats, what place does the comedy album have in 2012? Not to mention that attention spans aren't what they were when Richard Pryor was releasing albums.
Adam Cayton-Holland: Well, the album goes online, too. You can get it on iTunes. Honestly, it's something to sell while you're on the road, make some extra money. And as you probably know, most comics view an album as the definitive version of the material; it's a time when you can put it to rest and move on to something new. It's a good time to check yourself creatively. And we've never done an album before, so these will be our baby shoes, our little bronzed baby shoes.
Adam Cayton-Holland and Andrew Orvedahl will be recording separate live albums during shows at the Bug at 8 p.m. Friday, December 7 and again at 8 p.m. Saturday, December 8. The Bug is located at 3654 Navajo Street; tickets are $5. Click here for more information.