If you’ve ever seen a comicbook character swear, then you know what a “grawlix” is: That’s the technical term for those wonky symbols (e.g. “$#@%!!”) that appear in place of profanities in cartoon talk balloons. It’s also the moniker Denver standup trio Adam Cayton-Holland, Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl chose when launching an online sketch-comedy series to accompany their live shows. “It’s obscure and pretentious, just like us,” jokes Cayton-Holland (the one with the beard).
“The videos were originally intended just to be filler during our live show,” adds Roy (the one with all the tattoos), “and then it eventually became the reason people were coming.” As the Grawlix’s Web series got popular, the group refashioned the format into a sitcom pilot called “Those Who Can’t,” in which their up-and-coming comedian characters became immature teachers. Submitted to Amazon Studios’ open-call contest for series ideas, the low-budget pilot landed the trio a sweet payday, plus a deal to write six more scripts.
Though Amazon ultimately rethought its strategy and decided to produce higher-end series like “Alpha House” and “Transparent” instead, TruTV stepped in earlier this year and ordered a 10-episode season of “Those Who Can’t.” “Some of the overall ideas, because they took place in a school, have sort of carried over, but script-wise, these are all new episodes,” promises Orvedahl (the one with “The Unicorn” podcast).
Though they perform together both on stage and screen, the trio maintain their distinct personalities in their standup — which is still how each most strongly identifies. “What we spent our money on will tell you exactly who we are,” claims Cayton-Holland. “Ben bought a motorcycle, Andrew paid off a bunch of debt and bought a ton of Legos, and I built a very sensible deck on my home,” he says. “I really wanted to buy an old-timey player piano, but I couldn’t find one.”
Adam Cayton-Holland: Agency: UTA, CAA (appearances); Management: 3Arts
Ben Roy: Agency: Paradigm (lit/talent), CAA (touring); Management: Levity
Andrew Orvedahl: Management: Management 360;
Lawyer (for all three): Michael Auerbach
Influences: Kyle Kinane, Rory Scovil