Podcasts are in tune with the democratized spirit of Internet media; anyone with a microphone and a computer can offer their listeners unlimited hours of recordings, usually for free. Limited only by their imaginations, podcasters have a freedom of expression unrestricted by commerce, censorship or geography. Indeed, several great podcasts have blossomed from Denver's own flourishing arts community. Here to celebrate them is Podcast Profiles, a new series documenting the efforts of local podcasters and spotlighting the peculiar personalities behind them.
After he successfully navigated the High Plains Comedy Festival through its second year, it would be understandable for Adam Cayton-Holland to indulge in a bit of glad-handing and laurel-resting before moving forward. Instead, he's been busier than ever. He'll be appearing on the series premiere of The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail and competing once more on @Midnight, so tune into Comedy Central on September 17 for a "double-dose of ACH." In preparation for an upcoming show at L.A.'s taste-making alt-comedy venue, Holland will be debuting his hour on Saturday, September 13 at the Syntax Physic Opera. With all these developments in the running, the time has never been better to check out My Dining Room Table, an interview podcast featuring national headlining comedians, Denver luminaries and plenty of discussion about Holland's dog, Annabel.
Westword: Where did you come up with the idea for My Dining Room Table?
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Adam Cayton-Holland: My friend Taylor Gonda convinced me I should do a podcast. We usually have an out-of-state guest do the Grawlix every month and they typically stay with me and Taylor was like, you have the cream of the up-and-coming comedy crop staying at your house every month, you should podcast with them. I had always been averse to starting a podcast because, you know, every comic has a podcast -- but when she put it like that, it made a lot of sense. Then she offered to do everything and made it all the more tenable. Of course, that arrangement has come to an end as she jumped ship to focus on her burgeoning Lucha Libre career and playing bass at farmer's markets, or whatever it is she does these days --so I had to seek counsel elsewhere.
Have you learned anymore about podcasting from the production side, or does someone else still handle most of that stuff?
I have learned a lot more about the podcasting side of things. I thought it was far more simple than it is. Taylor did everything for about a year before teaching this baby bird how to fly. She recorded the episodes, edited them, uploaded them, everything. Then she rightfully said all right, mucahcho, time for you to learn how to do this shit, so I did. Then she gave me a tutorial. Ron Doyle taught me how to edit a little bit; Kevin O'Brien helped me out, too. I did a few episodes where I did it all myself but then I hired on my buddy Oliver Howard, who produces the episodes now. I do all the recording myself -- I at least have taught myself that skill pretty well. I think it has made the conversations better. When there's a third person there, recording or whatever, no matter how engrossed in the conversation you are you are still performing for them a little bit. Noticing when they chuckle or whatever. Now that I record it all myself, that has gone away. It's just me and the person I'm interviewing and I like that intimacy a lot.
Which three to five episodes should new listeners be sure to download if they want to get into MDRT?
That's hard to narrow down. There are so many episodes that I love. But off the top of my head I would say listen to the one I just recorded with TJ Miller, listen to the one I recorded with Ken Arkind. The Jonah Keri episode. The Kumail Nanjiani episode and the Sam Tallent episode. Oh, and the live one-year anniversary episode. That one is hilarious.
Do you ever feel daunted by the sheer volume of comedy podcasts available?
I used to feel daunted by the sheer volume of comedy podcasts because I used to want to join their ranks as some king-shit huge comedy podcast. But those podcasts all benefit from being on a network and things like that. and really you can't worry about that. I used to be obsessed with listenership and numbers and getting huge names and all that and then I just kind of realized it's more about putting out good content, getting what I want out of it. So now I just focus on great conversations, perhaps venting a bit more into the intros, which can be really therapeutic. Side note: that's also helped my stand-up a lot. It's made my comedy more conversational and I did not see that benefit coming at all. Wiser men than me have described stand-up as a search to sound like yourself on stage. In a weird, convoluted way, having a podcast has helped me with that.
Who do you think has been the biggest "get" in terms of booking guests?
I'm not sure who the biggest "get" was. They're mostly my friends, so it's not all that hard, just a matter of finding time. I guess having Marc Maron on the live episode from High Plains last year. That was certainly huge. And he was awesome. Total pro. Keep reading for more from Adam Cayton-Holland.
What's the format of the Syntax Physic Opera show?
Each of the Fine Gents are going to do a set and then I'm going to do an hour. I've known Jonathan Bitz forever and I wanted to do something at his new space, so I'm really pumped to run an hour there. And I'm pumped to do it with the Fine Gentleman's Club. Those guys are so funny and do so much for comedy in this city, but we rarely get to perform all together -- so it will be fun to all joke on the same night.
Can you talk about the upcoming Meltdown show? How else have you been preparing?
The Meltdown is a place I've been performing at for the past three, four years every time I'm in L.A. Usually I'm on Jonah and Kumail's show but we've done the Grawlix twice there and I've just spent a lot of time hanging out there, befriending pretty much everyone who works there. They're this great community of amazing people and it's one big lovefest. It kind of reminds me of the Denver scene over there. Probably why we all get along so well. So they asked me to do a show as part of their "An Evening With" series, one hour with some of their favorite comedians, and of course I accepted. I was honored to.
That room =- in part because of Jonah and Kumail and Emily's show, but also because of all the other amazing comedy shows going on there regularly -- has become one of the top places to perform in the country. To do an hour there is going to be so much fun. I just had a string of college gigs so I ran my hour on those kids and now I'll practice it once here in Denver. I'm not trying to be too polished or rehearsed with it, though, just trying to have fun. Very excited to have TJ Miller, Kate Berlant and Jake Weisman on the bill. As well as Jordan Doll, who is going to be in L.A. at the time. Excited for everyone in L.A. to see that dude.
In light of everything you have going on, do you feel more secure in your decision to stay in Denver?
I feel justified in my decision to stay in Denver just because I love this city. But I've stopped looking at it as a "Can I make it from here" type of thing. Because the answer to that is most certainly no. If I were in full-scale production of a TV show here, that would be one thing. But even then you'd have to leave a ton, tour, promote, placate whatever network you're on with face-time in whatever city they're in.
Making it for me means having my home here, maintaining a presence here, living here, but going out and striving for those vague golden rings. You know, the ones that took Holden Caulfield down. I think people have this misperception about me that I'm Denver or bust. That would just be naive. Those people should check out the airplane miles I rack up. I'm all about Denver and Colorado, but that doesn't mean at the expense of everything else. It's a two-pronged effort. In a way, doing my podcast has really helped me realize that all the more clearly.
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Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.