The Grawlix have come a long way since ascending from the ignominy of Colfax open mics. Andrew Orvedahl, Ben Roy and former Westword scribe Adam Cayton-Holland may finally be getting a big introduction to national audiences, but Denver's known what the rest of the country has been missing for nearly a decade. With the premiere of TruTV's scholastic sitcom Those Who Can't on February 11, the Grawlix are returning to their home club — the downtown Comedy Works — for a Thursday-night party celebrating their television debut, followed by a headlining engagement through Valentine's Day weekend. Denver loves nothing more than a big win for its hometown heroes, and locals who've supported the trio since their "Los Comicos Super Hilariosos" days have much to celebrate.
"I look at the ten episodes we made for Season One and I absolutely love them. And I'm proud of them," Cayton-Holland boasts. "We made the show we wanted to make, which is not all that easy from everything I hear 'round these here Hollywood parts." The network has relentlessly promoted its new venture, and with ten episodes already in the can, spirits are high.
For Roy, the most vivid memory was receiving the news that TruTV had picked up their show. "I had this weird out-of-body moment," he recalls. "It was strange. Like those moments when it's as if the angle you have seeing life at just shifts or warps a few degrees. Everything is still the same, but it just looks different. And you kind of know that it will never look the same. For better or worse, that's how it's been since that day. And we kind of lost it. I think Adam was yelling. I won't lie, I started crying. Three and a half years of the most up-and-down ride I've ever experienced came to fruition in those few bizarre seconds."
The brain trust behind Those Who Can't endured an arduous journey to the airwaves, one beset by false starts and crushing disappointments. "Being dropped or tabled or whatever it was by Amazon was a real low," Cayton-Holland admits. Hopes had been high when the erstwhile retail giant picked up their pilot as part of its expansion into original programming, but despite a favorable response from viewers, Amazon passed, leaving the fate of the show uncertain and its creators in turmoil. "There were times during that period that I wouldn't wish on anyone," Roy says grimly. "Real dark times for all of us as a group, and as individuals."
Cayton-Holland recalls a particularly evocative low point in the aftermath of Amazon's decision: "I remember Ben and I were in San Francisco right after that happened and we were going to a meal at this Chinese restaurant and we were looking on our phones trying to follow the directions and we turned a corner and were just hit by this huge billboard of the Amazon show Betas, which had gotten picked up instead of us. And the restaurant was like, directly underneath that billboard. We sat and ate in the shadow of what we felt like should have been our billboard. It was like some sad short story." Fortunately for everyone involved, the story didn't end there.
Coutresy of Ben Roy's Facebook page
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“I think we found a really good partnership with TRU,” Cayton-Holland effuses. “They believe in us, are pushing us hard, and are letting us have a say in shaping the tone of the network.” Indeed, TruTV's aggressive expansion into original comedy programming includes an omnipresent marketing campaign for the show that frequently provokes the surreal sensation that comes from seeing faces, so familiar to their peers and longtime fans, plastered across massive billboards on Hollywood Boulevard, Times Square and along the 16th Street Mall.
A second season of Those Who Can't has already been given the green light, and Roy assures us “it’s going to get more and more nuts,” so it's doubtful that the Grawlix will remain Denver's secret much longer.
Showtime is at 8 p.m. and tickets costs $20. Fans who want to keep partying with the Grawlix can also join them at their premiere night after party, 10 p.m. at the Hi-Dive. Tickets cost $5 and all proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood. The trio are also headlining all weekend long following the release party. Go to Comedy Works' website for showtimes and ticket links for the Valentine's Weekend shows.