I don’t know if I realized I wanted to be a performer at a young age, so much as I realized making people laugh got me out of trouble. I was a real ornery kid and I noticed that when my dad was yelling at me, if I imitated him and mimicked his movements and what not, he would break out of this parental, disciplinary character and burst into laughter and then all of a sudden I wasn’t in trouble any longer. I’m talking like 4, 5, 6 years old. I was a real slow talker with a slight speech impediment, which I was unaware of, but I knew that the longer I drew words out, the more laughter I got, so I think that was my first experience with reading an audience.
My mom is just happy that I’m not dead somewhere by now, but I definitely know this is NOT what she wants me to be pursuing. I have a degree in English Education and I have taught in the past, but it’s not really what I want to do with my life right now. My mom gets that, I think. She’s very supportive and loving, but she constantly says things like, “So, uhh, you know Kathy Butler’s son Ryan? Well he just got a nice paying job that he went to school for and he is on a softball team at night so you can do this hobby while working a real job! You know?” I told my mom I got a paid booked show and her reaction wasn’t, “Oh honey that’s amazing! I’m so happy for you!” it was, “Well is that gonna pay your car insurance?” But, that being said, she always offers to come to my shows and tells all of her friends about me. I know she is proud of me, she just knows I’m struggling monetarily right now and she wants what’s best for me. I understand that. Also, my dad died when I was 8, so I can’t really speak for him but I know he’s proud of me. Sorry for turning this into a psychotherapy session.
I work, I sleep, and I eat. I go door to door for a construction company trying to get people to sign up for free construction estimates in Wilmington, Delaware. It’s awful. But I work from like 2pm – 8pm, so it allows me to shoot up to Philly, or wherever, for shows, and then I get to sleep in and run errands and go to the gym in the morning. Questions like these really make me realize just how boring my life would be if I wasn’t involved in stand up comedy.
Man, I am the worst at managing time. I am almost always late and I don’t know how I still have friends who want me in their lives because of how often I show up late to things. When I was a freshman in college, I went to a seminar on time management and I showed up twenty five minutes late. The hardest part about managing my time from day to day is all the free time I have because I work such odd hours. I used to work construction from 8:00am to 4:30pm and I’d always think, “I wish I had later hours so I could sleep in. My life would be perfect then.” Then I get a job where I have later hours and I can sleep in, and I long for the days when I had a normal 8-4:30 work schedule.
I have a fairly morbid sense of humor, and I say that as a matter of fact – I don’t say that as a means of being like, “OMG you guys, I’m like so0o0o0o dark!” But like I said earlier, my dad died when I was 8 and when you’re an 8 year-old kid you can’t mope around and be sad because everyone around you is gonna cry and get upset, so you gotta make yourself upbeat and at least create this illusion that you’re happy, even if you’re dying on the inside. I’ve been fairly good at trying to turn negatives into positives and I really have no other choice but to accept things for what they are. If something bad happens, I have to make the best out of it because otherwise I’m going to lose time and lose my mind dwelling over something I have no control over.
I lost my job over a year ago (read: got fired) and I was unemployed for a while but I tried to make the best of it. Granted I’m at a job I’m not happy with right now, but if I didn’t have this job I wouldn’t be able to pursue stand up comedy as often and with as much fervor (word from my “Word of the Day” Calendar) as I currently do.
I think I found out today that if you own a credit card, in order to maintain good credit, you should pay above your minimum fee and always make monthly payments…?
I’m making a best man speech at my best friends wedding next year and I’m assuming I will be expected to make it funny and what not, but for the most part my friends are really cool with not expecting me to be funny all the time. That being said, I think some of my closer friends get a sick enjoyment out of when I do fall flat with a joke when I’m hanging out. I get a sick pleasure out of my friends failing in little aspects of their lives as well. For example, a couple years ago a friend of mine dressed up as the Hamburgler for Halloween. He was running around bragging to everyone how great his costume was and after an hour we were all so sick of hearing about his Hamburgler cape and his yellow sash. We were in an elevator and he said, “You know, I really think this yellow sash ties this costume together perfectly,” and IMMEDIATELY as the words “perfectly” left his lips, his yellow sash fell off of his hat and fell down the elevator shaft. I couldn’t have been happier.
I was speaking with a comedian the other day, about the idea of a joke ever really being “done.” I’m always working on ways to make the joke better, but one joke that I was really proud of when I wrote it was a joke that had a call back in it. I’m gonna sound pretentious as fuck explaining this, so put on your glasses, grab a seat and take notes from the Comedy Professor! A call back is a reference you make to a joke earlier in your set, something that kind of ties in a previous joke so that it takes a split second for it to register in the audience’s heads and then say, “Oh yeah!” They usually laugh pretty hard. That being said, I wrote a joke with a call back in it and I was prett-ay, prett-ay proud of myself.
My favorite comedian of all time and the comedian that got me interested in doing stand up is Bill Hicks. I am obsessed with Bill Hicks and you can tell when I’ve read a new book on him or been listening to him a lot because I’ll try to get “preachy” and “edgy” in my act, which is really embarrassing I guess but I think he is just the absolute be all and end all when it comes to the whole complete concept of a “comedian.” Anyway, Bill Hicks has a joke where he is talking about his family at Christmas and says something to the effect of: “Christmastime was always weird. My brother would get a football, my sister would get makeup. For Christmas my mom got me a College Age Dictionary. She said ‘Well, Bill, it’s the thought that counts!’ …Yeah, Mom, but what were you thinking?”
Right now I’m listening to the new Fucked Up album, David Comes to Life. Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown, The Alkaline Trio, and Ratatat are always on constant rotation on my iPod. Matter of fact to be honest, the past few days I’ve been listening to the new Beastie Boys album along with The Lonely Island’s album, Turtleneck and Chain. I’m in the car a lot so I’m constantly listening to music. Comedy wise, I listen to the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron, and I’m currently listening to his episode with Dan Harmon, the creator of Community. I just finished The Joe Rogan Experience podcast the other day with Neal Brennan, and Comedy Death Ray/Comedy Bang Bang with Scott Aukerman is an awesome podcast to listen to, which I listen to often as well.
I have every single Miley Cyrus song on my iPod, I know the lyrics to almost every song on the Aladdin soundtrack by heart, and I eat at least a pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Late Night Snack” every week.
Honestly, thinking about the look of dejection on my friend Josh’s face when his Hamburgler sash fell down the elevator shaft will always, no matter what, put me in the best mood.
I think a lot of people can relate, but when you’re young and you get picked on, if you make fun of yourself or someone else, it definitely helps deflect the negative attention from you. I used to be very goofy looking and I’ve only recently kind of grown into my face, but I used to get picked on a lot when I was younger. I knew what it was like to be picked on, so I had a hard time throwing other kids under the bus. I would make fun of myself or make fun of teachers in order to deflect, and it kinda worked, made people laugh, and I didn’t get in as many fights, so it was pretty much a win/win. And as far as the first person to tell me that I was funny, I have no idea. Know why? Cuz I been funny all my life, SON!
–interview by Alex Gross
For more from Ian Fidance, follow him on Twitter and check out his upcoming performances:
TONIGHT (June 28, 2011)–9pm–Little Bar, 8th & Fitzwater, Philadelphia, PA (with Chip Chantry, Alex Grubard, and Tim Butterly.
Friday, July 1st–9pm–The Grape Room on Main Street in Manayunk.
Thursday, July 7th–9pm–Hosting the Raven Lounge’s Center City Comedy (17th and Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA)
Friday, July 22nd–8pm–Comics on Chestnut at Noche (19th and Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA) with Derek Gaines, Steve Gerben, Jack Martin, Paul Goodman, and Brian Ketchup Wilson