Stand-out Stand ups: Stephen Ryan

I am very proud to present the first of what I hope to be a regular series of inside interviews with some of the most promising Irish comedians around. As I have started my comedy career I cant help but be intimidated by the high standard of fantastic and unique comedians our country has to offer. One great example of this is the surreal and brilliant Stephen Ryan. Performing all over the country for just over a year, Stephen has quickly built up a reputation as a comedian with interesting ideas and an engaging method of communicating them. Using his expansive command of the English language and his soft and captivating delivery, Stephen brings us into a world of absurdity and peculiarity yet always with a very real message within it. I recently sat down with Stephen and got a brief insight into this stand-out stand-up’s life. 

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Well Stephen I suppose we should begin at the beginning, have you always been so creative specifically during your youth?

To be honest with you I haven’t been particularly creative. As a kid I did speech and drama but didn’t take it seriously. For the most part as a child I was an avid reader as well as playing sports and that.  I used to read comic books as a kid, really this comedy expedition, outside of my academic writing, was my first foray into cultural creativity. At the same time as I took up comedy I also got into acting getting minor roles and mostly extra work.

Why did you get into comedy and has it always been what you envisioned your career to be?

I got into comedy for two reasons. The first reason was to find a social outlet that allowed me to take my mind off my academic work and secondly to bolster my confidence in public speaking . I never envisioned comedy as a career and in reality still don’t, for me it is a hobby that I want to develop and even if I got the opportunity to be a full time comedian I still don’t know whether I would consider it a career…can a career really be something you enjoy that much?

Who are your inspirations in the comedy world and in life generally?

As a kid I had a tape of Eamon Morrissey’s adaptation of the works of Flann O’Brien called ‘the Brother’, I used to listen to it every night as sort of a bedtime ritual and would have been able to say the play off by heart, so Flann O’Brien would definitely feature as an inspiration. I was and still am a big fan of the Python’s as well as Beyond the Fringe a 1950’s comedy troupe featuring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Among the more modern comedians I have great admiration for Stewart Lee and Kevin McAleer.

How do you feel the state of comedy is at the moment in the alternative and mainstream levels?

I feel stand-up comedy is going through a golden age at the moment. Both mainstream and alternative comedy is in high demand and television companies are recognising and meeting this demand. Stewart Lee’s new show on comedy central “The Alternative Comedy Experience” is a great development in that it gives a platform to and heightens interest in comedy that would not ever be mainstream enough to attract this attention and this can only be good for artistic development within comedy.

What are your career high-lights thus far?

That’s a hard question as my career has been a distinct curve. I think perhaps the highlight so far was performing in Dolans warehouse this month alongside Karl Spain, Tom Stade and Trevor Browne. Performing to a great audience in a great venue alongside some great comedians it can’t get much better than that!

You recently competed in the Chortle student comedy awards heat in Dublin, how has that experience been?

To be honest when I signed up to it I didn’t really think anything of it and just decided I’d run with it. But it was very useful in that my set was filmed and put on Youtube and I got to keep a copy of my full set. I got to meet some really good comedians through it which was nice. Also as a result of taking part I got my picture taken and put up on the Hot Press website which was a bit of a novelty. So that was fun.

You also opened your own comedy club in Ennistymon, what prompted the decision and are you content with your results thus far?

I opened Oh La La Laughs in Ennistymon last November I think it was and we’ve been running them off every couple of months. I opened the comedy club in Ennistymon because my girlfriend the singer/ songwriter Lou McMahon was living out there and she suggested it to me that Ennistymon would be a good place to open a comedy club and it took off from there. It has been a brilliant experience running the club in Ennistymon and the support I have gotten from the people back in West Clare has been phenomenal.

Finally, do you have any exciting projects in the works?

Lots of little pipe dreams. I’m hoping to start writing a sitcom pilot in the next few weeks but I don’t know will anything ever come of it. I also have plans to perform at the Cat Laughs Fringe and the Ballinamore Fringe festival so they should be new and interesting projects.

As we wrap this up is there anything you would like to promote?

Yes! There is always something I’m trying to plug. Firstly as part of the Chortle Student Comedy Awards, Chortle are hosting a people’s choice vote with a place in the semi-final of the competition up for grabs. So I would like to ask everyone to log on to http://www.chortle.co.uk/news/2013/03/17/17444/student_award%3A_peoples_choice_vote_now_open and cast a vote for me. Also I would like to plug a fundraising gig in the Falls hotel in Ennistymon on the 30March which will be in aid of orphans and trafficked children in Peru and Oh La La Laughs will be showcasing on the night.

If you are interested in booking Stephen you can contact him at his e-mail stephenryanjervis@gmail.com or catch him on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/stephen.ryan.528

Watch Stephen performing at the Chortle Student comedy awards.

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