Denver comedian Adam Cayton-Holland made his national stand-up debut on “Conan” last night, finishing out the program with five minutes of jokes that he’s honed relentlessly over the last couple years.
We were excited to tell you about the spot last week, and we’re even more excited to bring you the video of it. But the real question is: how did he do?
As comedians say, he killed. Confident and measured, but still employing all the gestures and inflection that make his comedy so inviting, Cayton-Holland owned the screen — which is different than owning the stage, as any TV veteran will tell you. And if audience response was any indication, he might be getting another five minutes on that stage in the future.
Cayton-Holland, who comprises one-third of the Grawlix comedy troupe, enjoyed an appreciative, typically loud/quiet response from the studio audience as he wound his way through bits that made fun of trendy kids’ names, the (old) Wendy’s slogan (“Adam might be the only comic who can compare a fast food slogan to testicular cancer,” Conan’s website said), Supreme Court-references, education, racism and Southern culture. In other words, a pretty tightly-packed five minutes.
He got some unexpected applause with a Cracker Barrel mention and glanced at the camera a couple times, but overall he did the Denver comedy scene proud, managing to sound both literate and silly, wry and earnest. A former Westword writer and rising national presence in comedy, Cayton-Holland started his “Conan” quest in 2011, and we were there for it, so it was a fitting full-circle moment to see him finally make the show after a year of perfecting his five-minute TV set with “Conan’s” comedy booker, J.P. Buck.
After the set, Cayton-Holland (whom Conan referred to in a teaser as CLAYTON-Holland, presumably after the U2 bassist Adam Clayton — which Cayton-Holland gets a lot) took to the couch with guests Genesis Rodriguez and Dax Shephard, looking right at home on the big stage as the program closed out the night.
Next up: Cayton-Holland his Grawlix buddies are putting the finishing touches on a sitcom pilot for Amazon Studios called “Those Who Can’t.” It seems the rest of the country is starting to take notice of the thriving Denver comedy scene — even if it’s just in five-minute doses at the moment.