Ryan started doing stand up in Boston. He moved to LA in 2010 where he now performs regularly. He has won the Rhode Island Comedy Quest as well as Uncle Clyde’s Comedy Contest at Flapper’s. He is in a sketch group called Dead Kevin which has been featured on Tosh.0 and Cracked.com, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What was the biggest culture shock you noticed when you moved to Los Angeles from Boston? Do you feel comfortable out there now, or is LA one of those places that nobody ever truly gets used to?
RO’F: It took me such a long time to get used to. I hated it for about 2 years. I still love getting out of town when I can, and breathing real air and interacting with real people. LA is like college. It’s so full of young people with part-time jobs and some vague sense of direction in their life. There’s no love here. Just attractive people. No matter what you try to pursue out here, it’s going to kick your ass for a very long time. So I think a combination of all those things really made me hate the city. It wasn’t until I went to New York for a few days that I realized how much I appreciate LA. The space to breathe, the weather, the people, the friends, the comedy scene. It was the first time I thought of LA as home. Now I pretty openly love it here.
RO’F: I’d say my home club, if i had one, would be the Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica. It’s not one of the big names. It started as an improv theater but in recent years has become an awesome stand up space. I was an intern there when I first moved to LA, and I feel really at home there. I’m not “in” with any of the big clubs and that’s fine with me. Some comics spend years trying to get passed at a comedy club while it seems like the best comedy in the city is happening at more alternative venues these days. Meltdown Comics has a lot of great shows, and there’s a bunch of backyard comedy shows that get packed with people. Everyone loves a good backyard show.RM: How is preparing material for a comedy competition different than featuring at a local club? How do you go about putting together a “greatest hits” reel of jokes that you wouldn’t necessarily do every weekend?
RO’F: I generally don’t do competitions anymore. It’s weird being pitted against other comics, and it makes the show less fun. Even showcases for things like the JFL Comedy Festival or Last Comic Standing can have a weird competitive vibe amongst people that are normally good friends. I did a lot of contests when I first started. Lost most of them obviously. Regular shows are much more fun for both the comics and the audience since there’s not as much pressure. Putting together a ‘greatest hits’ reel for a showcase or something is usually pretty awful, since it’s the jokes you’ve done the most and are the most sick of. It’s an odd feeling when your best jokes are the jokes you hate telling the most. Comedy sucks.
RM: What do we need to know about “Dead Kevin”, and what is the origin of that name? Who are the other comics in that sketch troupe; and what creative satisfaction are you able to get out of that project that you cannot achieve when you are doing stand-up?
RO’F: Dead Kevin consists of myself, Jack Robichaud, and Ahmed Bharoocha. We all met doing stand up here in LA. We named the group after Kevin Costner, star of the recent hit film Draft Day. We were all really crushed when he passed away so the group name is kind of a tribute to his life and work. Sketch has a lot of advantages over stand up. You can try a line a bunch of different times and pick the one that works the best. The sketch lasts on YouTube forever while a great stand-up set only lasts a few minutes. It’s more widely accessible to the public than a stand up set is, and I’ve had much more success come from the sketch group than I ever had doing years of stand up.
RM: When you present an idea to the other members of that group and they don’t show interest in that particular idea, do you ever try to re-work the premise so you can use it in your stand-up?
RO’F: I have never once presented an idea that the other guys didn’t like. Just kidding. They hate most of my ideas. Literally almost all of them. I’ve never taken a rejected idea to the stage though. If they don’t think it’s funny, usually I’ll lose confidence in it and pretend I never brought it up.
RM: You were one of the “New Faces of Comedy” at this year’s Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal…What was that whole experience like for you; and how did you think that your sets went? Which were you more concerned with: Getting exposure; or networking with other comedians that you didn’t already know?
RO’F: It was probably the best week of my life. The sets went well I think – better than I expected with so much industry in the audience. I had a lot of fun. Then just the city in general was amazing. More than i was concerned with anything comedy related, I was mostly excited just to see the city. That’s probably the wrong order of priorities. Or is it? I do comedy all the time. But that was my first time in another country in my ENTIRE STUPID LIFE. I can’t network. I’m too awkward of a guy. So I was just hoping my sets went well enough to earn people’s respect. I think I did fine? Who knows. I’m not famous yet so maybe it wasn’t fine.
RM: Are there any topics that you felt like you have really wanted to discuss on stage, but for whatever reason you couldn’t make a bit out of that topic or felt as if it wouldn’t be a good fit for the rest of your act?
RO’F: One of my favorite bits is one I’ve done like, 4 or 5 times on stage ever. I do a weird New York accent and talk about making love to a horse. And it lasts for a really long time. But that joke just derails the rest of the set. And if it doesn’t work, then it’s incredibly awkward. It not a joke you can just brush off and move on. It’s pretty terrifying to do, but when it goes well, it’s really fun. Mostly because it’s a true story.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
RO’F: Just gonna keep plugging away! I’m gonna be in an episode of New Girl which i believe airs September 23. Other than that, just going to keep on doing shows and auditioning for stuff until I’m a major Hollywood celebrity and heart throb.
Ryan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ryanoflanagan
Ryan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ryanoflan
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