Christina Stiehl attended the New York Magazine, Vulture and truTV exclusive screening of truTV’s new scripted comedy “Those Who Can’t” at the Roxy Hotel in New York City. TWC premieres on truTV on February 11th.
Watching the first two episodes of Those Who Can’t, truTV’s first scripted comedy, feels like being invited to hang out with a group of close — albeit irresponsible and often reckless — friends, and that’s not by accident. The Denver comedy trio The Grawlix, Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy, created and star in the show. They also happen to be real-life friends. Centered around a group of troublemaking high school teachers, Those Who Can’t is a chance for the group to not only show off their comedy writing chops and outlandish characters; they get to work with some of their favorite fellow comedians.
“It’s still weird for us to even say that we are actors because we are comics first,” Adam told us at the Those Who Can’t screening at The Roxy Hotel in New York on January 14. “We tried to have a lot of stand-up comics, who are also actors, on the show.”
That list of stand-ups featured this season reads like a who’s-who of some of our favorite comics: T.J. Miller, the Sklar brothers, Kyle Kinane, Kate Berlant, Brooks Wheelan, and Rory Scovel, who plays the group’s disapproving hippie principal.
“It was basically just texting a friend [and asking], ‘hey dude, I want you to be a character on this show,’ and seeing if they really wanted to do it,” Andrew said.
That real-life chemistry is palpable on screen, especially with supporting character Abbey Logan, played by Maria Thayer. Even though Maria didn’t know her castmates before they started filming, it didn’t take long for their camaraderie to develop.
“I really was laughing from the first day on set, which I was surprised by,” Maria told us.
Her character meshes perfectly with the guys; she’s willing and enthusiastic to participate in their ridiculous hijinks. Which almost didn’t happen. During the Q&A after the screening, Adam revealed that Abbey was a pretty small, one-dimensional character in the initial pilot script, serving only as a love interest for Loren. Luckily for us, the guys fleshed out her character enough to make her just as immature and silly as everyone else. “She’s just one of the crew,” Adam said.
As the first scripted comedy for truTV, Those Who Can’t impressed the network so much, it was picked up for a second season before the first one even aired. Andrew said working with truTV has been an ideal match for their comedic sensibilities. And as the true-crime-turned-comedy network continues to expand their show roster, that could mean room for even more scripted shows.
“There’s a little bit of pressure, because there’s that [feeling of] ‘test this out, see if it’s viable for us,’” Andrew said. “We’re being handed a ball and we have to run with it, but it’s also an exciting time because they believe in our show, enough to give us a second season. It’s great to have that sort of support.”
Those Who Can’t is quickly paced and layered with dense jokes and off-hand quips, so much so that it deserves multiple viewings to really appreciate all the humor. At the Roxy screening, the audience was laughing so much (us included!) throughout, it was hard to catch everything as it was happening. Andrew told us that almost every detail had some reasoning or joke behind it, whether it’s a poster in the school or people interacting in the background.
“Three comedians all trying to get their jokes in there,” Adam added. “You can imagine how dense things got.”
But don’t think this show is only smart writing and witty lines; there’s plenty of physical comedy jam packed into each 22-minute episode. Gym teacher Andy Fairbell (played by Andrew) gets his fair share of dodgeballs to the face, and a major mishap with the climbing rope, all within the first two episodes.
Maria summed the show up perfectly: “It has a popular sensibility. I am excited for people to see that. There’s prat falls, and smart jokes.”
Make sure to tune in to Those Who Can’t, premiering February 11th at 10:30/9:30c on truTV.