Everybody Loves Ben Roy: Denver comics weigh in on their longtime colleague
Like Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl has been working with Ben Roy on the Grawlix comedy team for two years. Here he recalls how Roy went from an angry, drunk yet talented comedian to one who convinces the audiences to take a ride on his vulnerable rants.
Westword: How did you and Ben Roy first meet?
Andrew Orvedahl: I'd just started doing comedy, and my friend Ravi Zupa was working with Ben at Independent Records, and he was like, "He's the funniest dude, you have to see him perform." I think Ben started comedy a month before I did, and one night we were both at Comedy Works, and I remember thinking he was funny right off the bat. Very unpredictable. He was doing his own thing, just like he his now, very genuine.
It's pretty incredible that you, Adam Cayton-Holland and Ben Roy all got into comedy around the same time without even knowing each other.
Yeah, it was a random fluke, like a bunch of good quarterbacks all coming out in the same year -- every now and then you get this bumper crop and all of a sudden there are all these good comedians. It was a great time, it was like all the conditions were right to develop as comedians.
Was Ben Roy more into music at that time, with comedy being more of a side-project?
It seemed like that for quite a bit of the early time that I knew him, he was more into music and he wasn't going to auditions like we were. He was really unpredictable, you wouldn't know if you were getting red-hot Ben, or drunk, unintelligibly angry Ben. It was a dice-roll.
Then I moved to L.A. for two years, and when I came back Ben had done the greatest 180 I've ever seen anyone do, in comedy or in life. Going from someone who was pretty self-destructive -- but who had undeniable talent -- to just focusing on his talent. Before he would take out his anger on the audience, and now they're coming along with him, instead of being attacked by him. And it's electric. He's still angry, but the crowd is a part of that, instead of being a victim of it.
He's powerful and angry on stage, but he'll be vulnerable, talking about his life in a way that a lot of people wouldn't, problems with alcohol or details with his sex life. So when you're in the audience, you're getting this honest, genuine experience.
Ben Roy will be performing his monthly Grawlix show with Andrew Orvedahl and Adam Cayton-Holland this Friday, February 22 at 10 p.m. at The Bug Theater, located at 3654 Navajo Street. Click here for more information.