Andy Juett came to the local comedy scene via radio, and has blossomed into a booster, standup comic, producer, stage host, behind-the-scenes guy and co-owner of the High Plains Comedy Festival, which kicks off its second year in August. But he also rolls out comedy shows all year 'round at the Oriental Theater and other local venues as a partner in Kayvan Khalatbari's Sexpot Comedy. What keeps Andy Juett moving and shaking and scaring up laughs? Check out his 100CC questionnaire for answers.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
This is going to sound like I'm mocking this questionnaire, but it's the most honest answer I can give. I would most like to collaborate with Magic Johnson. Nobody turned basketball into art like Magic. Hustle and creativity. Nobody was more inspiring than Magic for me as a young boy from Michigan. Can you imagine two dudes in sports giving each other a kiss at center court like he and Isaiah Thomas did, and then go to battle like they did? No. No you can't.
Otherwise, I think it'd have to be Christopher Guest. I really would love to create a new breed of improvised comedies with him. The Nix Brothers and Matty O'Connor are a couple of directors I and other comics in this town have worked with for videos and, to me, the most fun way to make anything video-wise in comedy is to have a structure, block a scene, improvise a lot and then cut up the gold. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge advocate for the written word, but freewheeling can be where that amazing "writing" comes from. There's nothing funnier than discovering why something is funny on camera and having the audience almost feel what the actors or comics feel as they discover it during recording.
Continue reading for more from Andy Juett.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
To me, the business interests supporting the art, music and comedy renaissance in this town are super interesting. Instead of relying only on traditional advertising, people like Pete Turner, Vigil Dickerson and Kayvan Khalatbari are fueling the scene by integrating their companies into culturally motivated pursuits that help make the town what it is. Pete and I are partners with Adam Cayton-Holland in Denver's High Plains Comedy Festival, but Pete and Virgil (of Illegal Pete's and Greater Than Collective) are so immersed in music and comedy and beer and art and other nonsense that it's kind of awe-inspiring.
My partner in Sexpot Comedy, Kayvan Khalatbari, is super interesting to me. He owns Sexy Pizza, Denver Relief and Denver Relief Consulting, which can spawn a lot of solid, easy jokes about cannabis and pizza pairing well together, but in addition to some traditional advertising, Kayvan sees a future in building the art and comedy community to a point that the art and the culture and the comedy IS the advertising. A lot of this stuff is super ambitious, and both sets of dudes are examples of people who know that, but do it anyway -- usually to a shockingly wonderful mix of new voices that usually ends up benefiting Denver and the world. I think this is key, though -- as a result, their actual businesses benefit, too. Everyone wins. It might be the model of the future.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
It won't happen, but I despise Internet memes. There is no lazier form of expression right now than Internet memes. They always used to make me giggle during myspace days, largely because I never thought they'd grow to the popularity they enjoy today. I think meme generators can be cool for people who'd otherwise never write a joke, but most of the time they're just so trite and banal and terrible. Don't have a personality? Post a picture of a cat with chocolate on its face, and let everyone know, "I'll claw your eyes out if you touch my chocolate."
See, we just wrote one. That one isn't that bad. I saw a picture of a baby flicking someone off in a meme the other day that said, "Where's my milk ____?" The blank was the C-word. In the right context, that's funny, but you know some clown is making that into a t-shirt and wearing it to Walmart as his credo.
Continue reading for more from Andy Juett.
What's your day job?
Until recently, I was manager at Comedy 103.1 here in Denver. Unfortunately, I think I was a little too punk-rock for the environment, as they had zero interest in the Denver scene and creativity wasn't undervalued because it was valued not at all. I have been managing radio stations for the last fourteen years in Colorado, and I think I'm finally done. Radio afforded me a great life and experiences for me and my kids, but unless it's independently owned, it's not fun at all. I'm sure there are exceptions, and I'd love to be proven wrong, but I got into it as a practical application of my creativity to make decent money when I had a young family. Probably the best time I ever had in radio was when I helped run Jammin 101.5 and the now defunct Hot 107.1. It was a playground for creativity, and we truly helped clients. That part of the business is the most important, and most radio stations ignore it because there just isn't time to give each client and station the care it needs from a personnel and resources standpoint. It's too expensive to have the infrastructure needed to help customers. The big guys only care about transactional business. Sad.
Moving forward, my day job will be a series of comedy ventures, most prominently Sexpot Comedy's daily operations. Kayvan and I are launching a website in August that will centralize the comedy videos and podcasts in this town to one website hub, with show calendars as a resource so people know when and where to go for shows at any time, and we hope to also sell art from people like Michael King and Chris Charpentier, as this scene has produced some really whimsical, cool art over the past several years. This is an exciting extension of the live shows we put on all over town. Our gig one, our biggest monthly show, is at the Oriental Theater on the the third Friday of every month. This month's show is the High Plains Comedy Festival Preview with Aparna Nancherla, Sean Patton, Ashley Barnhill and Ian Douglas Terry. A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I'd create programs to help children caught in situations that aren't supportive, safe or healthy. Kids get caught in the wake of adult activities, and that sucks. I realize that's a very idealistic answer.
I think I'd also use it to create a significant cultural shift toward thinking long-term as a species. I don't mean fifty years long-term -- I mean thousands of years long-term. Native American cultures had the right idea, thinking about the future impact of their present actions in terms of preserving their future. That wisdom needs to be applied to making sustainable energy, and relatedly, inhabiting other planets. Yes. This is radical thinking. But there's zero reason, if we shifted focus from an "only growth" model in global markets to the stewardship of our legacy in the universe, that we couldn't make a mission statement of spreading our spirit and love throughout the universe. Right now, we're eating and burning everything. The consequences in our lifetime will be real and sad and preventable.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Film is something I'm incredibly passionate about and interested in. Colorado should be a hub in the middle of the country for more film projects. Donald Zuckerman at the film commission was really great a couple years ago when we shot T.J. Miller's video at DIA. There are good folks here in Denver. But from a pure business standpoint, we're missing millions and millions of dollars every year because New Mexico and some other states offer insanely better deals to out-of-town productions. Denver is making great films, and we need a better legislative backbone to take it where it needs to go. Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the union, but we treat film as a low priority.
Continue reading for more from Andy Juett.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
My favorite Colorado creatives are Evan and Adam Nix. They make film because they love it. That's a time and pressure right there, though. It won't be long before those guys are making the biggest things you can think of. One thing I want to mention is that they're obviously talented, but they and the core group around them all work SO hard. They write more jokes, perform more shows and hustle harder than everyone else. That is why they're successful. It doesn't just happen.
I'd like to shout to Kristin Rand, as well. Rand is hilarious as performer, and she's worked her ass off to get the opportunities she's getting now. It's talent, but the people who are working harder are getting more shots. She is creating her future. Self- actualization. Go get what's coming to you. Be positive, not jaded or cynical.
These guys are working hard and they're all a delight. Being shitty eventually leaves you in the same spot year after year wondering why nobody wants to work with you. Life is too short not to be grateful for all these opportunities.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
My agenda is to hopefully acquire some circling agents and managers so that I can act, produce and write bigger things. I really just want to make stuff in my life. One element that I'd been somewhat avoiding is doing more standup because I am surrounded with the best all the time. But what I'm finding is that the more I work on it, the better that element gets too. You've got to be able to do everything, and stage-acting and standup is a a part of it.
In a couple of months, I have a web series coming out called Glenn Has Ideas, that I created with Andrew Orvedahl and shot with Matty O'Connor and Andrew Bueno and a bunch of solid special guests. Special guests include Adam Cayton-Holland, Rory Scovel, Sean Patton, Emily Heller, Dan Soder, Chris Fairbanks and Hannah Duggan. I'm psyched for it.
That web series will premiere at a new website, sexpotcomedy.com, that Kayvan and I are launching in the very near future. I'm pretty excited about the future of Sexpot Comedy's live shows and the online presence. That brand will continue to grow. Who knows. Maybe we'll make some movies and TV under that banner...we'll see.
Oh, and everyone needs to go to High Plains Comedy Festival. The McNichols Building show on the final day will be the perfect cap to our South Broadway romps. We will be partying at McNichols all night after Grawlix and the headliner Pete Holmes perform. It will be glorious.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts (or comedy) community in 2014?
My interests vary pretty widely, so I feel like there's amazing stuff coming out of so many scenes. On the music scene, Esme Patterson, A. Tom Collins and my friend Ben Roy's band SPELLS are all favorites. Oh, I also hope more people learn of Ian Cooke and his band. They're amazing. I think on the electronic and hip-hop side, Denver will continue to grow. What Souls In Action and Colorado Culture are doing for EDM is rad.
On the comedy side, I'd predict a pretty big year for Adam Cayton-Holland and Ben Roy, with some pitches they have out. And I expect more Denver comics to get the opportunities that ACH and the boys have gotten. I think it's a question mark as to who understands what they need to do to tackle those types of projects, though. I think Grawlix, Sexpot, the Fine Gents and moxie are leading the way. But I'm biased. Thanks for letting me talk about this stuff. It was fun.
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Full festival tickets are now available for the second annual High Plains Comedy Festival, featuring an all-star lineup of local and national headliners on August 22 and 23 at various venues up and down Broadway. Visit the website for information. Keep up with Sexpot Comedy and the local comedy scene on Facebook and -- coming soon -- at sexpotcomedy.com.
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
To keep up with the Froyd's eye view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.