When a comic's greatest strength is his dynamic physical presence on stage, podcasting can be risky. But while Adam Cayton-Holland has a few sluggish moments during the premiere of his new podcast, My Dining Room Table, his background as a journalist and his genuine rapport with fellow comics make for an engaging hour of ear-bud hilarity on the debut edition.
See also: - Adam Cayton-Holland makes his late-night debut on Comedy Central - Even sobriety can't tame comedian Ben Roy's savage humor - Kevin O'Brien on the These Things Matter podcast and Mile High Sci Fi
After opening this first My Dining Room Table podcast with quote from Homer Simpson, along with the introduction of producer Taylor Gonda (of the These Things Matter podcast) and a pleasantly retro theme song from Total Ghost, Cayton-Holland launches into an explanation of the theme of his new show: Civic pride. He loves Denver, and often finds himself defending the decision to ignore the lucrative fast-track of New York and Los Angeles in favor of tending the greenhouse of our local comedy community.
Future podcasts will see Cayton-Holland discussing this issue with national and local comics and musicians.
And on this debut episode, at least, the home-town theme never comes off as self-sacrificing charity -- a do-it-for-the-children, heart-over-art gushiness. In fact, it's just the opposite. Cayton-Holland recognizes the growing talent here, and doesn't see why Denver comedy can't thrive on its own terms. (Even more, he suggests that it thrives because it's on its own terms.)
It's somewhat disappointing that this debut features an interview with Ben Roy, Cayton-Holland's comedy partner with The Grawlix, and the pilot Those Who Can't -- if only because it's a safe choice and we see them perform together at least twice a month in short films and on stage. But then, Marc Maron had his buddy Jeff Ross on the first episode of WTF, and that certainly hasn't proved to be a bad omen.
Besides, these two have an electricity when paired together. During the opening monologue, Cayton-Holland seems a little uneasy with the format, perhaps because he's unaccustomed to performing comedy alone with no live audience, but once Roy comes onto the mic, the host rolls out his A-game and begins popping off bizarre scenarios for his comedy partner to volley back to him.
Although this is Cayton-Holland's debut as a podcaster, his years as a journalist (he was a staff writer at Westword) have given him both a sense of structure and an interviewer's gentle provocation, and he brings out of out Roy vivid stories about his dark past in Maine, getting in a public fight with Troy Baxley at the Lion's Lair, getting kicked off The Squire stage by Greg Baumhauer for screeching gibberish through an entire set, and turning down meth in Wyoming.
The two speak eloquently on the decision to develop their comedy careers in Denver, discussing the inspiring energy of the West, the wealth of talent in our city, and how overrated the coasts can be, while at the same time acknowledging the anxious risk of staying put. "We've dug in a little bit," Cayton-Holland says, and Roy adds that this may come as a detriment of their careers: "We both can't help but wonder, 'If I'd moved to New York a few years ago, my career would probably be further than I am.' We dig in [to the Denver comedy scene] and we're like 'don't collapse, house of cards.' . . . if anyone starts to leave we're like 'don't you go anywhere! You're holding that wall up.'"
At one hilarious point, Ben Roy confesses what his indulgent purchase would be if the Grawlix pilot gets picked up: a motorcycle.
Adam Cayton-Holland responds: "You're already uncastable with your tattoos, now you want half your face scraped off? 'This is my partner, Ben; he speaks out of this tiny hole, but he wants to be leading man.' We'll have to write a lot of burn-victim roles for you. It'll be our calling card."
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The next My Dining Room Table podcast will be released on Wednesday, March 20; that night, Adam Cayton-Holland will be headlining at the downtownComedy Works at 8 p.m.; tickets are $12; find more information here. Cayton-Holland and Ben Roy will be performing their monthly Grawlix Show at 10 p.m. Friday, March 29, at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street.