Ryan Hamilton: Hilarious observations + ‘1950s look’ = comedy gold

Like many standup comedians, Ryan Hamilton makes his home in New York City. But having grown up very far away – both literally and symbolically – in a small town in Idaho, gives his persona a bit of a fish-out-of-water element. And with a large toothy grin, he likes to joke that his face makes him look like an old-fashioned advertising campaign. “I look like a comedy club logo,” he’s said in his act. “I could sell ice cream in the ‘50s.”


Ryan is notable for being a “clean” comedian – but his audiences are usually laughing too hard to even notice that he’s working “clean.” This aspect happened naturally – he doesn’t find himself needing a censor when he’s offstage, so it would be unnatural for him to do so when he is onstage. “It’s just kind of an extension of myself,” he said. “You have to be authentic to who you are.”


The strategy is working for Ryan, who will perform at JFCS’ 29th Annual “Laugh on their Behalf” Benefit on Dec. 2. He was named one of Rolling Stone’s “Five Comics to Watch” with standout appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan, The Late Late Show, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, and Showtime. He’s also racked up a remarkable number of national competition wins and festival appearances, including winning The Great American Comedy Festival and Sierra Mist’s America’s Next Great Comic Search.


Growing up, Ryan liked to watch An Evening at the Improv on A&E, which always featured a showcase of standup comedians. But more than standup, the area that interested him when he was young was humor writers. He loved reading comedian Dave Barry’s columns and at one point convinced the local newspaper in his town to give him a weekly humor column.


He had done some standup appearances after graduating high school, but didn’t treat it as a potential career at the time. He graduated college with a journalism degree and began to pursue that career track. However, when he got laid off from a job at  24, he decided to use the opportunity to focus on standup.


“I thought I would put a year into (focusing on standup full-time) and see what happens.” Ryan said. “I just started doing more and more comedy. I had some great opportunities during that year and just kept going ever since.”


Recently, what he’s most excited about is his first standup special, Happy Face, which premiered on Netflix at the end of August. “I’ve been working towards that for a long time,” he said. “I would like to do another special in a year or two.”

Ryan’s material covers a broad spectrum of topics, and he works to make his act as universal as possible. He has performed in Minneapolis many times over the years and performed in Israel last year.


“I really enjoy doing comedy anybody can enjoy,” he said. “I usually talk about what’s going on in my life. I like to have a unique perspective.”


Don’t miss Ryan when he performs at the 29th Annual Benefit! Event Co-Chairs Lauren Weiser and Fran Bayer, along with their Steering Committee, are excited to present him at the Dec. 2 event. “I’m really looking forward to the event – I think it will be great,” Ryan said. “I know JFCS has had a lot of great comedians and I’m honored to be part of that tradition.”