by Andrew Wantuck
If you consider yourself an intellectual, someone that appreciates well crafted jokes that on the surface seem dark, then you will have an appreciation for Ryan Stout's perspective on the world around us. Ryan has unique style that recalls comics of an era that sometimes seems like it passed us by. He digs one level deeper than some that hold the microphone and his jokes always have a point of view. A way to think and feel about the world around us, yet he isn't preaching from a pulpit because he is too busy crafting jokes that are respectful to the art form. They are innovative in the likes of some of the people who's shoulders he is standing on. Legends like George Carlin, Mort Sahl, Bill Hicks, and even Jonathan Swift. If you pay attention to the world, can read polysyllabic words, and are sick of the dumbed down, pop culture sludge that we are fed on "access hollywood" you will appreciate Ryan Stout.
Andrew: You have explained your comedy as "where Logic and morals collide" can you expand on that please?
Ryan: If you follow a strain of logic out to it's furthest point it becomes illogical. People have said that before. Usually if you take a moral stance on something and then follow it logically all the way you realize that there is a lot of grey area in there. It comes down to you can know something is right but feel like it's still wrong. It is what your mind thinks versus what your heart feels kind of thing. It is certainly not very nice to laugh at somebody falling down the stairs, but if they fall down the stairs at the battered women's shelter, now you have all sorts of logical contexts and cultural cues involved that turn it into a joke, and now you are laughing, but you know you shouldn't because of the conflict involved.
Andrew: It's a joke because there are so many bad things happening at once that it is not even possible?
Ryan: Well, almost. It is actually totally in the realm of what's possible so sometimes people think I am the bad guy for bringing it up, but I am just pointing out that it is possible.
Andrew: After a show, have people come up to you like you were the bad guy?
Ryan: People continually come up to me and say "I really like the politically incorrect stuff" and then I say "what did I possibly say that was politically incorrect?" I just asked questions on stage, that is all I really did.
Andrew: How has Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal has influenced you?
Ryan: When I first read that paper in high school, I actually heard George Carlin's voice in my head reading along with the words. That is a prime example of what we are talking about. Swift was saying, if I can humbly suggest a logical way to solve this hunger problem in Ireland it would be for us to eat babies, but hear me out. It was one of the first satire's that was a perfectly logical solution and yet, morally it was one of the worst possible ideas you could come up with, but the fact that it works is where the humor comes in.
Andrew: You always wear a suit and tie on stage, what is your reasoning behind the wardrobe choice?
Ryan: Early on when I first started doing stand up I looked like a college kid and I would talk about these logical situations that seemed seedy, dark, immoral, and the audience would sit there and say "why is this nice young boy talking this way?"
Ryan: Then I had the idea to give the audience the impression of what the show was going to be like as soon as they saw me. What I wanted that impression to be is that "okay this has been thought out, he has created something to give to us. It is something that has been worked on, crafted, honed and now it's going to be in front of us." When they see me in a suit and tie for the first time they don't think "oh this is a guy that is going to be doing cart wheels." Instead, they think that this guy is going to stand there and talk. It's almost an unconscious authoritative figure type situation. I think they listen because "look at him, he must know what he is talking about."
Andrew: What is something that you have learned in the last year?
Ryan: I learned to follow my own advice. A comedian that I do not know sent me this joke and asked what I think about it. The joke was something about things they sell at the dollar store, and my initial advice was like "well, it has been done before, you are not really breaking new ground." So he emailed me back and asked if I had any suggestions on how to make the joke better. So I gave him some decent advice about asking how do you feel about the subject matter, don't just make an observation, get in there and learn how you feel about it and figure out where the joke comes next. Feel, think, comment. Then I thought, wow, if I could put as much work in my own material, as I can as when people ask me for advice I could be really good at this.
Andrew: Do you ever just take a premise up on stage and then find a punchline or do you always have you punchline in advance?
Ryan: I truly wish I could just go onstage with a premise and just be funny, but it just doesn't work that way for me. I have tried it and it never works out well. It is one of those things that I admire most about guys like Louie CK, who gets on stage and says "let's talk about this thing and it ends up amazing." So much of my material is trying to put a new idea in someone's head, like I am not trying to play on old cliche's that people will willingly nod there head's at in agreement. I am trying to create something that you have never thought of before, and I am trying to create something I have never thought of before. My goal when I sit down to write is to come up with something so obvious, but has just never come through my head. I know that this is something that takes work. Though, I have noticed that when I am on stage, and I'm having fun with something I wrote that the tags do come. I do improvise things that become mainstays with the joke. Performance does add to the piece.
Andrew: Can you compare The Comedy & Magic Club to other clubs in the country?
Ryan: The good thing about The Comedy & Magic Club is that I don't know if I ever seen anyone in the crowd that wants to disrupt the show. The audience not only has a level of respect for the comics, but always this level of fear that they don't want to interrupt the show because the other 250 people might be upset with them. That isn't something that happens everywhere. I have been to shows where the audience came in because it was $10 for all the beer they could drink and that is indicative of how the show went because they are not there to be entertained. I think that The Comedy & Magic Club has almost trained its audiences to be some of the best in the country. That doesn't happen everywhere that the audience actually cares about each other. It's like if somebody yells out or is too drunk there they get thrown out and on the way out the person is like "We are never coming here again!" And the club goes "that's perfect, we don't want you here or people like you, so please don't send anyone you know or your relatives."
Ryan Stout is performing on the 32nd Birthday Bash 16 comics for $16 Thursday, Friday, Saturday July 15th, 16th, 17th, and 29th, 30th, and 31st. Reservations Required (310) 372-1193 or comedyandmagicclub.com. ER.