Adam Cayton-Holland on doubling down for High Plains Comedy Festival's second year
Adam Cayton-Holland is a comedian, podcaster and former Westword scribe who forged his craft in ego-battering Colfax open mics before co-founding The Grawlix with Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl, a union that has produced a self-titled parodic web series and Denver's best monthly standup showcase -- which just so happens to be tonight at the Bug Theater at 10:30 p.m. Cayton-Holland has amassed an enviable list of TV credits, delivering strong sets on shows Conan and The Pete Holmes Show, while steadfastly residing in his native Denver, where the outspoken baseball fan recently realized his lifelong dream of throwing out the opening pitch at a Rockies game after a long social media campaign. And Cayton-Holland's brainchild, The High Plains Comedy Festival, continues to thrive under his quiet but determined stewardship, with the second edition set for August 22-23. The unbelievably stacked lineup includes returning champions from last year's fest, like Beth Stelling, Sean Patton, Kate Berlant, Ian Douglas Terry and Cameron Esposito, in addition to Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani and T.J. Miller as well as ringers like Chris Fairbanks, Baron Vaughn and the top-billed Pete Holmes.
Westword recently met up with Cayton-Holland at the favored Baker haunt and High Plains venue Mutiny Information Cafe to discuss his post-surgery Frankenfoot and doubling down for the festival's second year.
Westword: So, how's your foot?
Adam Cayton-Holland: It's all right, it's starting to hurt again. I've been on pain meds, but I've been trying to wean myself off of them, so I've been doing one at morning and one at night. Initially, for the first couple days, I'd pop two every couple of hours.
A combination of things; I went in for a soccer injury but they found all this stuff wrong with my foot that actually caused the soccer injury. They kind of fixed it all. I got titanium and screws; it was no joke. You look at my foot and it's like stitches down the big toe, the second toe was butterflied open and they put a metal rod in there. It looks like Frankenfoot. It's not pretty. I'm eight days into what they're saying will be a six-week recovery. But I'm already up and walking around.
Have you taken the stage with that moon boot on yet?
Not yet. I haven't performed in two weeks. I'm going batshit. Grawlix is Friday, and I think I'm gonna hit 3 Kings -- I've never been to that mic but I just need to run this shit somewhere before I do it at the Grawlix. Two weeks feels like a long time. The last time I performed was at Meltdown in L.A. with Ben Roy. Then I came home and got the surgery and I've just been on my ass watching the World Cup.
So, when did the High Plains lineup come together? Have you just been doing that behind the scenes throughout the summer?
Yeah, me and Andy Juett. You want to get the big dogs, and then they all say no. We've got a pretty good lineup, but it's been piecemeal. We cast a wide net to see who we could get and it's amazing. It's a good catch.
So, who do you think was like the biggest get?
I mean, it's almost kind of funny because T.J. and Kumail said they were down before Silicon Valley exploded. So that's a huge get. I think Pete Holmes is pretty solid. We're pretty psyched about that.
It sucks that his show just ended.
I liked it.
It was something new in late night.
You know, honestly, I think that if they had just made it a Pete Holmes sketch show, it probably would have been better -- new material Seinfeld, which was this sketch they did with a puppet, was always really funny. You should look it up. I like Pete's monologues too, his monologues are insane.
I do, too; they're a just like a TV version of his standup. They weren't topical, though, which may have removed some the incentive to watch it everyday, whereas I watch The Daily Show pretty faithfully because I want to see their take on breaking news.
When I was there, they taped a bunch of them at one time. It was cool to watch Pete do his monologues, because he has writers who are all comics, like Joe DeRosa, Chris Thayer and Jamie Lee, and they're waiting in the wings because they work on the monologue, too. It's more like seeing their standup joke hit rather than a monologue joke hit, so it's more personal. I watched him bang out like three in a row. When I watched it later, I thought, "That's not how it was filmed at all."
Keep reading for more on High Plains Comedy, round two.