Ryan Singer [Interview]

 

Photo by Matt Misisco

 

Hello Folks! And welcome to our introduction to 2020. It’s almost needless to say that less than a week into the new year, things are going pretty damn strange. Surreal even. Australia is on fire, and we appear to be headed into WWIII. And the memes just keep on a flowin’. So with that in mind, I feel as though our first guest of the year is a prime example of what we need to remember in the new decade. Two things to remember, Folks: Laugh. And THINK. And today’s guest is the kind of person who is an absolute mastermind at making us do both! It’s the incredible comedian Ryan Singer, Everyone!

Singer has been absolutely killing it in all things considered comedic in this modern day and age. From doing stand up sets all across the land, to his brilliant books, to his incredibly unique presence in the world of podcasting. Much like our dear friend and past guest Shane Mauss, Ryan is a hilarious human being who is not afraid hit on such controversial subjects of such as the conspiracy theories we know we all want to believe but some can’t seem to wrap our fragile little government-owned minds around…but are open to learn more. Also in most recent news, Ryan official denounced the use of chocolate as a form of sustenance. And I am here to say that I fully support this decision. I completely agree with him, and admire his bravery in embracing this topic.

So Folks, welcome to 2020. Here is to hoping that the chaos can dissipate like fog burning off around the afternoon son, but also to the hope that when the world does finally explode, we can look back in our final hour and believe that we may have a had a few good laughs in there. And it will likely be folks like Ryan Singer who will have brought that joy into our lives. So please enjoy some wonderful words from the absolutely brilliant comedian, Ryan Singer!

 

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When did you first realize that you were a hilarious human being and that you wanted to make people laugh for a living?

As a kid, the only thing I really cared about deep down was making people laugh, especially adults. I realized at a young age that if you can make people laugh that is the quickest way to get into their heart, so to speak. I would say the beginning of my comedy career started on our family’s answering machine. Back in the 80’s you could record for the length of the tape, so my messages were upwards of 3 – 4 minutes long of me doing impressions of Elvis, George Bush Sr, Gandhi, and Robin Leech. My parents and their friends thought it was funny and no one ever left a message because they couldn’t sit through the whole message. My Dad would tell people that I did the best impression of an Elvis impersonator. That’s when I knew I could make the grownups laugh. But, it was until later in life that I realized I could write my own jokes for stand-up that I decided to give it a go.

 

Whenever we have touring comedians on the site, I always like to ask this question: What are some sort off the beaten path cities that may surprise people to be actually really great places to do comedy? Beyond the well-known LA and NYC gigs, what are some places in the “fly over” states that you have had great shows in?

Well, I started my comedy in the “fly-over” states, so I am very much at home in those cities and there are so many great comedy scenes all around the country that most comics I know who live in LA or NYC are chomping at the bit to get to these “real” audiences that come to those shows. For the last 9 years or so, I’ve predominantly made my living by doing these cities, towns, and comedian-run shows and they are usually of the one-nighter variety. These organic scenes that popped as a result of the chain comedy clubs taking over most of the independently run comedy clubs in cities have been the backbone of stand-up for a decade or longer now. I would argue that this has been one of the best things that happened to modern stand-up comedy because the chain clubs are all run through the agents who aren’t connected to the overall comedy landscape in a meaningful way because their agenda is to put people through the chain clubs to make themselves money.

That’s not to say there aren’t cities that still have great, independent clubs, but I mostly work these independent rooms nowadays with a couple clubs still in the mix like Go Bananas in Cincinnati, Wiley’s in Dayton, Ohio, and a few others. Southern Ohio has a soft spot in my heart because I started there, but there are other GREAT comedy cities like Lincoln, Nebraska, Birmingham, Alabama, Atlanta, Georgia, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee, Des Moines, Iowa, Indianapolis, Indiana, and so many more. There’s a crew of comics who have been running shows in Oklahoma City for years that are always amazing and other smaller cities that really make your comedy heart swell with love of the craft.

Like every comic, I love a great room and so many younger and older comics have cultivated amazing scenes all over the place. In 2011, a friend of mine, comic Jarrod Harris, and I tried to do a tour documenting these “organic” scenes with 20+ city tour where we filmed along the way. Long story short, we’ve had multiple editors dropout on us during the process and it never made its way to a finished product. But, it was our earnest attempt at showing people that the so-called “fly over” states have beautiful comedy scenes happening outside of the industry’s eye. Maybe some young kid who reads this will want to edit it, who knows. I could talk all day and night about this particular question so I guess I’ll stop it there. But, comedy is alive and so, so well.

 

You had a reoccurring role, alongside or friends and past guests Dave Anthony and Troy Ruptash, on what I consider to be one of the greatest comedic show of all time, which would be IFC’s Maron. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this fine program? Any fun antidotes that made working on the program as fun to work on as it was to watch?

Getting to work on that show was a real dream come true for me. It was my television debut as an actor the first time I was on that show and an experience I’ll never forget. The first time I was on, I was in a scene with some other comics – Dave Anthony and Anthony Jeselnik and we were at a comedy festival hanging out for the scene. We were riffing some lines and it turns out the first line I ever had on TV would be something from the riffing take, “That’s a lot of pussy.” I’ve always had a soft spot for bad words and I couldn’t wait to tell my Dad that my first lines on television were, “That’s a lot of pussy.” Out of context, it may sound strange, but if you have seen the scene you’d understand. It was so fun to go back a couple times after that and work in scenes one-on-one with Maron, too. I toured with him for a handful of years as his opener, so we have a pretty good idea of how we interact and since I was playing myself it was great fun. I remember one time, the Director of the episode “The Request” Michael Jamin gave me the direction to, “Be more Ryan Singer,” after a take. I had met him a few times before at comedy shows, so we knew each other a bit. So, after the next take he said, “Be a little less Ryan Singer.” I’ll always remember that as my favorite direction I’ve been given on set.

 

 

As is practically required these days, thankfully so as a comedy fan, you have a podcast! A recent episode of your show Me & Paranormal You actually features our friend and past guest Shane Mauss, who seems like a perfect fit for this type of show. Can you tell our readers who may not be familiar with the show a bit about it? What made you want to make this happen?

I’ve been doing Me & Paranormal You for just under six years now and I still love it. I’ve always loved the unknown, the paranormal, and the supernatural. I had a few paranormal experiences that really prompted to me start the podcast, so I could try to dive into finding out more information about others’ experiences to feel less alone in my own experiences. I think that’s what we all want, ultimately, is to find community and feel like we aren’t crazy for knowing what we saw or experienced. I’ve found that most people, if not all, when they really sit back and think about it have had some kind of unknown or unexplainable experience in their life that leaves them confounded.

I’m on a journey to make sense of those moments and to try and show everyone in a way that heavily involves me keeping my sense of humor that they’re not crazy for believing the high strangeness that they witnessed. Shane and I clicked immediately when we met years ago at the Rooftop Comedy Aspen Comedy festival. We’ve been buds ever since and he’s probably the most frequent guest on the podcast. One of the most popular episodes I’ve ever released is a 3 parter where he walks me through smoking DMT for the first time. It’s pretty wild. Shane is a seeker of information and truth, but his chosen path to find these truths of the universe lie on the road of scientific discovery and that makes him a great compliment to me as I am firmly on the path of “woo” discovery.

There is immense crossover in these two fields and even in the modern western world where we tend to bow down to the new high priests, the scientist, there is so much unknown in our universe that we are ultimately searching for the same thing – truth. I find that when people realized they’ve had experiences with ghosts, Bigfoot, or other unknowns, finding community with others who share these will help to stem the tide of the scientific shaming that most people face when being open about their experiences.

I’ve learned that our regular LA readers can catch you at a fairly regular show called “Underbelly” that you host with fellow hilarious comedian Chris Garcia. Can you tell our readers a bit about this show and how it started? And where do they need to go to catch his genius in person?

I have a love affair with Underbelly. The show started in Cincinnati years ago by comedian Mike Cody. As the only comic from the southern Ohio scene that moved out west, I waited until Chris Garcia moved down to LA from SF to start the show. I met Chris years earlier and knew he was the perfect person to run the show with for many reasons, his brilliance amongst them. It is a show that we’ve been running for probably over 6 years now and stand-ups are not allowed to do stand-up on the show. So, there is music, sketch, characters, slide shows, and anything else you could possibly think of doing. It is always wild, wonderful, and unpredictable.

Having Chris as the co-host has contributed to my joy so much because of how effortlessly funny he is in anything he does. He seems to have a real zen quality about him when he performs and he can do it all – comedy, music, character, just anything really. He’s got so much natural talent and such a great work ethic and respect for comedy that it shines through every time he’s on stage doing anything. Underbelly has really been a traveling show of weirdos over the years and we’ve moved venues more than a few times. Right now we are putting the show at a place called Oeno Vino in Atwater Village. We are trying to find a regular time slot, but with Chris and I’s increasingly busy schedules and travel it has been hard to really lock in one day a month for it.

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

The future is thankfully unknown to me. I’ve started a second podcast with my friend Angela Lovell, who is a wonderful and hilarious psychic witch called This Is Where the Magick Happens. It explores the occult, witchcraft, the paranormal and a lot more. It’s been a ton of fun so far. I’m doing a lot more paranormal investigations the last few years and have been a part of a couple documentary projects that are still in production. I am also working on a paranormal comedy memoir, developing an animated show that combines my loves of comedy and the paranormal, and just trying to learn how to walk through walls amidst it all.

It’s strange where this life takes us, but awhile ago I told the universe that if it laid out my path I would follow it no matter where it led. I just want to live the fullest life I can trying to chase down the mysteries of the universe and what I’ve experienced and have a ton of laughs along the way. I’ve been really lucky. I mean, it is stupid how lucky I’ve been to meet the people I’ve met, have the experiences I’ve had, and I just try my hardest to be grateful for all of it. Also, the goal is to have the first comedy special on The History channel, maybe it will air right after Ancient Aliens.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I just recently bought some cacti and succulents to see if I could learn how to hear them communicate. Its a long story, but there’s a great book called The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby that explores the knowledge gleamed from shamans in the Amazon and it inspired me to kick up my relationship a notch with plants. I have taken to reading a little to them and talking to them to help them thrive. They make me smile when I talk to them.

 

To learn more about what Ryan has coming up, and when he will be in a city near you, head to ryansinger.com

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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