HE may be largely unknown here but London-based Andrew Ryan’s gigging itinerary shows his services as a stand up are in demand in his adopted nation as a packed calendar up to April confirms. Despite waiting until he moved to England to get onstage, the comic itch was always there for the Carrigaline native.
“Oh yeah. I did my first comedy gig when I was 14-years-old,” he boasts. “In my mom’s kitchen.”
A select audience of 15 family members were treated to Andrew’s take on some not unfamiliar material.
“I remember I watched a D’Unbelievables video and I stole all of Pat Shortt’s material, and I just pretended I was one of the D’Unbelievables. You know back in the ‘90s when the D’Unbelievables were great. Growing up, I used to go see them in the Opera House. I remember just doing probably two or three minutes, and people actually laughed. I don’t know whether they were laughing because I was 14 or whether I was actually funny,” he wonders.
Nevertheless, the comedy bug had bit.
“I had always wanted to do it,” he agrees. “I’d gone to comedy shows when I was 17 or 18. I remember going into City Limits to see Ardal O’Hanlon, and the Everyman to see Tommy Tiernan. I went to the Opera House to see Dylan Moran and Jason Byrne and Ed Byrne I was going when I was 18, 19, but I never actually saw an angle of how you’d do it. It’s like, how do you actually start?”
When Ryan made the move to the UK in 2004 he got a job working in the Royal Bank of Scotland.
“I still wanted to be a comedian but I needed a 9-to-5 job,” he recollects.
The onset of the global downturn found him being offered a redundancy package, an opportunity Ryan wholeheartedly grasped.
“They offered me enough money and I had enough money to live for about three months. In that three months I found another job, part time, and I managed my money for six months to 12 months and I just turned up at a comedy club one night and I asked how do you get onstage?”
Ryan was offered a five-minute slot with the warning that he was at the mercy of an audience who could boo him off within that time. Ryan had barely hit the halfway mark of his allotted time when he became overwhelmed by the jeers.
“It was awful,” he recalls. “I didn’t actually get one laugh. I actually think the English people couldn’t understand me. I think that’s what happened.”
Undeterred, he asked for another chance and was granted another slot.
“I came down again and I ended up doing about three minutes. So I thought, ‘well that was an improvement,’” he reasoned.
Ryan had clearly made some improvements to his set, but what brought him the extra thirty-seconds grace with the audience?
“By delivering the same words at a slower pace,” he deadpans. “Because the nerves, you see. The nerves.”
He has since conquered those nerves, revealing the secret to winning over an audience is down to having confidence, composure and control, qualities he built up through doing an average of six five-minute slots a month.
“You don’t get paid or anything like that,” he reminds.
“So it wasn’t going well but I never told anyone I was doing it. I just kept it to my self. And after six or eight months than I got a bit of a hold on it. I learned how to write and kind of steadied it. And took advice. And after two years of doing that I was able to make a living. I was able to live just on comedy.
“So yeah, the recession was the best thing to ever happen to me,” he says drily.
He has since gone on to appear on such TV shows as Russell Howard’s Good News and Best of the Edinburgh Festival Live on BBC3, BBC1’s The Blame Game and Live at The Comedy Store for Comedy Central, but despite an impressive CV he has some degree of trepidation as he brings his show Is Everything Alright at Home? to the Everyman.
“I’m not really known in Cork,” he considers. “I never started in Cork. Like Chris Kent, he built up a great following in Cork. I never really had a big following because I never really performed there that often.
“I started at two-minutes at a comedy club, getting booed off, now I’m doing the Everyman in my home town. I mean it’s wonderful. It’s a great privilege to be able to do that.”
He reveals that the inspiration for playing the Everyman came from seeing the aforementioned Kent, who he sees regularly in London, perform to a full house at the venue last year.
He says: “I was thinking: ‘this is great. Look at this, a Cork comedian selling out the Everyman. This is fabulous to see Cork talent on the stage. Do you know what? I’m from Cork as well. I’m going to try it.’”
It will be a bittersweet occasion for the comic as his mother Patricia passed away in August. Although the show isn’t entirely about her she did inspire the title.
“Because my mum got ill I realised that comedy wasn’t really important for me,” says Ryan. “So if everything was alright at home, i.e. if my mum’s health was good, then everything was good. So that’s where that came from.”
Andrew Ryan presents Is Everything Alright at Home? at the Everyman, Saturday, October 19.