Adam Cayton-Holland announces Denver comedy festival in August
The disappointing news that the Grawlix pilot got the thumbs down from Amazon didn't keep Adam Cayton-Holland down for long. Just days later, he announced the August 23-24 High Plains Comedy Festival, which will raise the bar on previous summer comedy jams like Laugh Track and Too Much Funstival by bringing in such big-name national acts as Kyle Kinane, Rory Scovel and Sean Patton. Although Cayton-Holland says he wants the High Plains festival to be on a level with others like Portland's Bridgetown Festival, he also emphasizes that this event is designed to bring as much attention to Denver comedians as possible. Keep reading for more from Cayton-Holland on the High Plains Comedy Festival.
Adam Cayton-Holland, comedy empresasio.
Westword: I imagine getting together a Denver comedy festival with national draw has been on your mind for a while.
Adam Cayton-Holland: Yeah, I've had this idea for a couple years. I know a comedy festival isn't a new idea, but we're really excited about this. I wanted to do it last year but just didn't have my shit together.
You've toured around a lot to comedy scenes in cities like Portland or Austin. What makes you think Denver is ready for something on the scale of their festivals?
I think any comic who's been around for a while knows that Denver has an amazing scene with a lot of talent. But I think Denver, outside of New York or L.A., hands down has the best comedy scene in the country. So it's time we had a festival that shows that. Austin and Portland are awesome, but Portland gets acclaim through its Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Not that they don't deserve it, but Denver is just as good as those cities, if not better, in terms of the caliber of our comedians. A festival is the perfect way to showcase our scene to a national audience, through bringing in big national acts and having Denver standups perform alongside them.
You know, Fine Gentleman's Club have done a festival, and there's been the Laugh Track Comedy Festival, and those are great, but they didn't bring in a large amount of out-of-town comedians, or any huge names, because they couldn't really afford it. But this one is trying to do that, and it's overdue.
With those festivals, they were showcasing primarily local talent, whereas you want High Plains to be something people will fly in from other cities to check out?
I want it to do both. I want national acts because you need them to draw in an audience, but I want a lot of Denver comedians on there, too. So we're trying to find a healthy balance.
At this point, Denver has reached a stage with summer music festivals where out-of-towners will look forward to events like the Westword Music Showcase or UMS. Is that the model you'd like to see in Denver in four or five years with comedy festivals?
I certainly think we can -- I don't think we'd be doing this if I didn't think we could pull that off. We're hoping this is a banner first year and keeps getting bigger and better until it's a Denver staple -- something that the city is known for. When you talk about Portland comedy, you can't help but talk about the Bridgetown Festival. So we're hoping that when people think about Denver comedy, they'll think of Comedy Works, and hopefully a few years down the road, they'll think of High Plains Comedy Festival. I really want to bring in more national comics and let them see what a great scene we have.
I've been lucky enough to perform at a number of comedy festivals, and I've seen a lot of things that I like and don't like. So I'm excited to try and put on a really good festival in Denver based off of what I've learned and seen.