Adam Who Can
Denver's Adam Catyon-Holland talks his new TV show, comedy with the governor, and Arby's.
Adam Cayton-Holland seems cool, calm and collected when we meet up. Pretty funny for a guy with the website domain name adamisfreakingoutrightnow.com. But really, everything involving this guy is pretty funny. Or more like really funny. His stand up comedy career has him pretty busy, headlining in comedy clubs and universities all over the country. He has performed on Conan and the Pete Holmes show, he’s won Comedy Centrals’ At Midnight, and he is currently writing the first season of a new TruTv comedy series Those Who Can’t with his live and sketch comedy group the Grawlix.
I guess I’d be freaking out too.
PULP// Last year, you were chosen to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Colorado Rockies game. How did that come about?
Adam Cayton-Holland// Twitter. And luck. I’m a giant Rockies fan. I’ve had season tickets for so many years now. So, they let me throw out the first pitch at a game in 2014, but I had been trying since the 2013 season. So I tried for a solid half season, getting at them online, and then during the off season I really ratcheted it up. All said and done, I probably harassed them for a solid nine, ten months. I was very proactive. Once it happened, it all snowballed very fast. Also, a lot of prominent sports writers got on social media after an article in the Denver Post came out about me wanting to.
And, the Rockies are so terrible now, they probably just figured “This guy WANTS to do it. Just let him, c’mon. He’s a superfan!”
What pitch did you throw?
I was really thinking about it, and I basically have two pitches. A fastball, and a knuckle ball that I’ve worked for a long time on. But I’m not going going to throw a knuckle ball like an idiot. You get one opportunity. So I threw it straight down the center of the plate. With the heat. #1.
Did it hit the strike zone? Be honest.
Here’s the honest answer. It was low. But it was right over the plate, and it didn’t skip in the dirt. You would’ve swung after it for sure.
How many years have you been doing stand up comedy?
Eleven. Eleven years now.
What do you still like about doing it after so many years?
I don’t know, man. I’m think I’m just addicted. I write a lot, I do a lot of scripts and I’ve done other serious writing too. But I think I love the immediacy of it. And anyone who tells you they don’t do it for the attention is lying. I do like that. You just get that immediate gratification. Also, I like to look at it as a mathematical equation. It’s a satisfying feeling to get a bit right. Sometimes it’s not working, so you tweak this, change that and all of a sudden A-HA! People are laughing. It’s awesome that a guy that never liked math feels satisfied by figuring that out.
I know you don’t seem to have very much of it, but what do you do in your spare time?
I really like bird watching. I like baseball a lot.
Last year, you and the Nix Bros (Denver based filmmakers) did a series of ads for the John Hickenlooper campaign. Was it hard to be funny in the constraints of a campaign ad?
Sort of. We had to pitch a bunch of ideas. We had 16 different ideas, and they pretty much rejected them left and right. But luckily, Hickenlooper has a really great sense of humor. He was a natural on set. But it was hard to try and find a middle ground because we wanted to kind of push it way further, but they were always like “hey dude, we’re running for office here.”
It seems like you all hit a great middle ground. They were campaign ads that didn’t feel like campaign ads.
Thanks. That’s the one thing everyone involved wanted. We wanted them to just be kind of weird and funny.
So you’re putting out a new album here soon. Tell me a little about it.
Yes, it is called Backyards. It comes out April 10.
Where did you record it?
It was at a place called the Comedy Attic in Bloomington, Indiana. It’s a really great club. I think it came out great, and I’m pretty proud of it. Plus, I got a poster artist from LA, a guy named Dave Kloc that does all the Meltdown (LA comedy show) posters to do the artwork for it. Which was great! I’m a big fan of his, I love his work, and that tickles me endlessly to reach out to people you like and then have them say that they like your stuff too. It’s great.
Esquire recently called you one of the “25 Comics to Know”. Did they contact you about that, or was it more of a surprise?
I love that, because they actually also called me that back in 2012. Which is still awesome, I’ll take that anytime. But it’s like 2-3 years later, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep riding on that wave.
But in this issue, they had what they call comedy tastemakers tell them who to look out for, and they asked (Talking Dead/ At Midnight host) Chris Hardwick and mentioned my name. Me and Chris are real cool, I’ve known him for a long time, and somehow I ended up in their magazine. But I don’t know.
So on your podcast My Dining Room Table, you talk with other comedians and musicians and even business people about success, and what their version of “making it” in their fields is to them. What’s your version of “making it”?
That’s a good question. I really think there are several ways. Being happy, whatever that means to you personally. I never want to have people telling me what to do. I don’t want a job with a boss.
For me, a big part of happiness is controlling where I go and what I do. So the fact that we get to write our own TV show now is such a huge part of feeling like a success.
Speaking of that, congrats on selling your show “Those Who Can’t”. Fantastic news. How has the experience been so far working with TruTv?
It has been really awesome so far. During the pilot filming, they left us alone. The execs at TruTv flew out, and then the day before filming they told us “We’re flying back to New York. You guys obviously don’t need us here (on set). Do your thing. And we had heard horror stories about networks having too many hands in the pot. But they’ve really been very cool with everything. They even let us bring out the Nix Bros. Really right now it’s so far so good.
You’ve had a bit of a one sided feud with Arby’s over Twitter. It’s hilarious and I love it. But why Arby’s?
I don’t know. I guess I was just bored and I think Arby’s is disgusting. So I was just kind of “let’s see how far we can take this’’. And a couple times the corporate people (from Arby’s) DM’ed me and asked very politely to stop. They’re so nice, too. Just the nicest company, but I just think they’re gross.
So I got blocked by them, and then recently for some reason they unblocked me. So I just really went ballistic on them. But now, they didn’t block me and I think are just ignoring me, like “let’s just ignore this brat”.
What do you like about working out of Colorado, when there’s always a draw for comedians and writers to go out to the coasts?
Honestly, at this point I like it because it differentiates me and us from those areas. And I get to be at live at home, Get to have a real life, and not just chase fame all the time. I like that we’re bucking the trend too, and that we get to have lives outside of stand up comedy.
Also, I was a writer first and still consider myself a writer. And a writing manta is “Write What You Know”. Well this is what I know. I’m a guy from Denver, Colorado. This is my viewpoint.
I really like the filmmaker Alexander Payne. He’s done all those Nebraska films, like Election and Nebraska and About Schmidt . I read an interview with him, and someone asked him “Why don’t you shoot a movie in New York?”and he’s like “I’m not from New York. Spike Lee can do that. What could I say better about that city. I’m from Nebraska.” And I thought “That makes so much sense.
What is the term for bird watching again?