Ryan Hamilton is an exception to the rule ‘nice guys finish last’.
A wickedly funny dude, obviously, he’s frequently impressed both industry insiders and layman comedy fans by winning numerous major comedy competitions including Last Comic Standing and The Great American Comedy Fest, and has been named one of Rolling Stone’s Five Comics to Watch, all the while maintaining the kind of down-to-Earth attitude that can only come from Small Town America.
Here, I sit down, by myself, and talk with Ryan Hamilton over a shitty cellular connection while he sits down, also by himself, in a hotel room somewhere on his busy tour schedule.
[Interview condensed for length]
Ellana Blacher: So I googled you, are you aware that the Wikipedia page baring your name already belongs to someone?
Ryan Hamilton: Yeah, I saw that actually. A hockey player, right?
EB: Yeah, you’re Ryan Hamilton (Comedian). He’s not Ryan Hamilton (Hockey Player), he’s just Ryan Hamilton.
RH: Well it’s a pretty common name.
EB: And Hamilton has been pretty popular lately, what with the Broadway play and all.
RH: It’s been great for me. People think they’re getting a great deal on Hamilton [The Musical], but they’re actually getting tickets to my show. So then they see me instead.
EB: It can’t be that much of an accident; you’ve won a bunch of major comedy competitions. You even won Sierra Mist’s America’s Next Great Comic, and they aren’t even around anymore.
RH: It’s true! I outlived Sierra Mist!
EBL And you opened for Seinfeld last month! How was that? A lot of people compare your comedy style to a young Jerry Seinfeld.
RH: It was just great. Yeah him and I were talking about that, we don’t see it. We don’t think our styles are that similar, I think it’s just that we both have kind of a more clean style of comedy so we get lumped together.
EB: I can see that. Well, you’re both in town for Just For Laughs. You’ve been a mainstay at this festival for a while. And you play a lot of comedy shows. Do you find there’s a difference from festival to festival?
RH: Every show is different, honestly. Even the same one from year to year. Every one really has its own life, its own feeling, and they’re all great.
EB: Have you ever spent any time in Montreal outside of Just For Laughs?
RH: Uh, no, actually. I’d really like to but I’m always travelling. I’m always on the road.
EB: Well that must be nice. I see that the potato farming community you’re from in Idaho only has a population of about a thousand people as of the last census. How did you even get into comedy from that?
RH: I started off in journalism actually, writing for a local paper. I just called them up and asked if I could have a column, and they let me. And after a while another paper started publishing me too, and then I started helping write behind the scenes for a local news channel, and it felt so great when things I had written, little funny things, made it to air. And then I left comedy for about eight years.
EB: How did you find your way back to it?
RH: Well I never really thought of comedy as a serious career option. That wasn’t really a thing where I was from; we didn’t even have a comedy club in town. And then I lost my job, and then decided, hey, I should give comedy a serious try, and if it doesn’t work out, then at least I’ll know.
EB: And now you have an upcoming Netflix special and a series of solo shows. Tell me about that.
RH: Well we filmed the Netflix special back in May. And the show’s kind of a preview for it. It’s called Ryan Hamilton: Edgy, Boundary-Pushing Comedian. It was kind of a joke, based on something my friend said.
But now, that’s what I am.
You can see Ryan Hamilton in Montreal as part of the Just For Laughs festival from July 24th-29th. Get your tickets through hahaha.com.
And in the meantime, get familiar with this rising star’s unique, clean comedy style.
Here’s Ryan Hamilton performing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
And here’s his Just For Laughs Reel