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Over the past few years, Denver in particular and Colorado in general have earned increasing acclaim for the depth and breadth of our “creative class.” From restaurants and museums to music and film, Centennial Staters have been getting noticed beyond our perfectly square borders for our anything-but-linear innovations and ideas.
The latest sampling of our unique way of thinking and of life comes from local comedian Adam Cayton-Holland. His CD “Backyards,” a collection of standup material recorded at a 2014 show he performed in Indiana, lands today and features the genially acerbic observations that have made Cayton-Holland a fixture on Colorado’s ever-expanding comedy scene.
That the show would be released on CD reflects a rebirth of standup comedy as a collectible item. Comedy albums—actual, physical albums—once were almost as popular as their musical counterparts, but after the Internet arrived they became less common and buzzworthy. Over the past decade-plus, comedy fans could find their fixes online (and still can), but now comedians are realizing that producing material collections of their acts is back in vogue. “Standup comedy is just really popping now,” Cayton-Holland says. “Fans are buying and collecting these things more like music connoisseurs do.”
The title of the new CD is Cayton-Holland’s nod to growing up in Colorado, the kind of place, he notes in his act, where kids have backyards rather than the “commercial auditions and vague appreciation of jazz” coastal youngsters experience. Anyone who follows the comedian will welcome these bits (about the French, fast food, fellow passengers on airplanes) as wry, sarcastic, and just a little bit pissed off. To hear it all, you’ll want to get the CD now, because Cayton-Holland already has a whole new hour of material he’s using on his current gigs. (He’s scheduled to appear on Comedy Central’s @Midnight on Tuesday, April 14.)
As if he wasn’t busy enough, Cayton-Holland will be spending most of the summer in Los Angeles filming Those Who Can’t, a sitcom he created with fellow Denver comedians Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy. The trio behind the Grawlix comedy troupe originally developed the show for Amazon. Despite its excellent reviews, Amazon ultimately passed on the project, and in February TruTV (which is owned by TBS) announced it was ordering 10 episodes of TWC, the network’s inaugural foray into original, scripted series. (The thrilling news of the deal was merely the second-best thing that happened to Cayton-Holland that day; he also got engaged to his longtime girlfriend.)
With nuptials to plan and a sitcom to launch, Cayton-Holland’s next few months will be a little hectic. But it’s all thanks to the effort he and his fellow Colorado comics have been putting in for years. (Their internal mandate: Each of them must come up with 10 minutes of new standup material per month.) “The local comedy scene has always been good, but it’s really exploded in the past five-to-eight years,” Cayton-Holland says. “Now people are moving here to break into standup.”
Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.