A trio of Denver-based, whip-smart standup comedians banded together about five years ago to form the comedy troupe The Grawlix. Finding success with their combined mojo, Adam Cayton-Holland, Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl took their talents offstage in the form of web shorts, which eventually led to the creation of their first TV pilot, Those Who Can’t. The series premieres on truTV Thursday, Feb. 11 at 10:30pmET/PT and is the first scripted comedy to be added to the network’s lineup. truTV has made the first two episodes of the series available to stream now.
Those Who Can’t is ridiculously LOL funny as it follows a crude bunch of incompetent, troublemaking high-school teachers who are trying (well, some of them are) to keep their jobs at the floundering Buchanan High School. truTV is so confident in the laugher that it has already renewed the show for a second season.
We caught up with one of the series creators and stars, Adam Cayton-Holland, who plays the school’s “cool” Spanish teacher Loren Payton.
“All of these characters are just exaggerations of our worst traits — we sort of had them in the web series anyways, so it wasn’t really drawing on teachers from the past versus transferring these sort of personas we’ve been playing on the web series to the world of teaching,” tells Cayton-Holland.
His characters’ name, however, does have a personal connection. “My middle name is Lauren. My uncle’s named Lauren. My grandpa’s named Lauren. My cousin’s named Lauren. In the South it’s a more common man’s name but when we put it down in scripts everyone thought it was a girl, so we changed it to Loren. And then Peyton Manning was very hot at the time so we were like, ‘How about Loren Payton?’”
When it comes to the scripts, the guys can be pretty OCD. “We make our scripts pretty tight. After we shoot the script we do one or two for funsies, as we say, and then we improv and go nuts and very often that kind of winds out being the ones we use because that’s sort of the atmosphere we like to act in.”
It’s a competitive atmosphere where they all take pride in making someone break (crack up) while filming. Ben Roy plays the overly passionate history teacher Billy Shoemaker, Andrew Orvedahl plays phy ed teacher Andy Fairbell (who he describes as a “human golden retriever”), Maria Thayer plays the school librarian Abbey Logan and Rory Scovel plays the school’s peace-loving, short-tempered goofball principal Goeffry Quinn.
Adding to that are some impressive guest stars, including Curb Your Enthusiasm favorite Susie Essman and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
“We got so many good guest stars,” Cayton-Holland adds. “I think we really clobbered it with guest stars.
“We were all nervous,” Cayton-Holland says about working with Essman. “We’re kind of like comic first, actor second so we’re all relative novices. We’ve been making web series and stuff and I’ve done a few TV series but we consider ourselves comics first. So having to go toe-to-toe with a Susie Essman made me nervous but then you get to set and she’s so cool. She’s also a comic, so we were like, ‘OK let’s just do this, let’s play around.’ She was great.”
The entire cast is great. Check them out on truTV Thursdays at 10:30pmET/PT.