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Ryan headlines S’thorne comedy

Kimberly Nicoletti
summit daily news

Comedian Marc Ryan believes life is supposed to be fun, not just on weekends and annual vacations, but every day. After all, he grew up in Baton Rouge, La., a self-proclaimed party state who’s motto is “Laissez les bons temp rouler” (“Let the good times roll”).

From his initial description of himself, you might think he’s a superficial redneck – and he sometimes is, but that’s just part of the story.

He became a big fan of comedy around puberty, watching it on television. In 1989, at age 18, he did his first stand-up routine, and won, at a small Irish bar.

“I was so naive and ignorant to the world of stand up that I thought I would be an overnight success,” he said.

But even 20-plus years later, many people recognize him more from his depictions of redneck character Steve (whose beer opener hats are available on Ryan’s website) than Ryan himself. And that’s pretty surprising, given that Ryan has established himself as a premier comedian without the caricature.

From 2008-09, he toured with Rodney Carrington at some of the largest and most prestigious venues in the nation. Ryan’s television credits include Country Music Television’s “Greatest Redneck Moments” and Carrington’s music video “If You’re the Only One.” He performed on the comedy special for TBS entitled “Pit Stop Comedy.” He’s also on HDNet on Wednesdays with “Drinking Made Easy” and will soon start producing “Mud Slingers” for the Outdoor Channel.

But again, there’s that rambunctious character, Steve, who tends to get the most web hits – 26 million views in the last four or five years.

“(He’s) a big part of what’s advancing my career right now,” Ryan said. “It’s crazy how many more people know that than anything I’ve done.”

Crazy, and ironic, since Ryan revolved his early comedy career around the subject of rednecks (“and how we’re not all stupid”), then “thankfully evolved to a more personal experience,” he said.

These days, Ryan’s values lie in opening himself up, honestly and sincerely, to the audience by humorously commenting on experiences in his life, such as relationships and his aging parents.

“It’s the natural evolution of a true comic,” he said. “I think it’s easier for more people, or anyone, to do jokes about anything, like fart jokes. It’s more difficult to be honest about something embarrassing or horrible that’s happening in your life and communicate it without being angry or sad. It’s richer if I can do it honestly.”

While he used to aim for mass appeal, he finds it more rewarding to be vulnerable and direct, which tends to polarize people, who either love and hate him.

“(Mass appeal) gets the job done, but no one’s really blown away,” he said. “I”d rather have a bunch of people really passionate (and others who hate me).”

But just because he touts himself as vulnerable, don’t be fooled: His show is still rated R.

“I’m adult,” he said. “It goes with being honest and sincere and personal. I was raised around rough rednecks … it’s hard to describe an event between couples sincerely without the theme being very adult. Real is colorful.”

Ryan’s opener, Andrew Ovredahl, shares the same desire to be “as authentic as possible,” Ovredahl said. His no-gimmick approach leads his act to come off as a casual conversation.

Ovredahl secured a spot in Denver’s Comedy Works’ regular rotation in less than three years of doing stand up. He has performed nationwide, including Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and Red Rocks Amphitheatre; opened for acts like Dave Chappelle, Bob Saget and Josh Blue; and appeared on “Last Comic Standing.” After living in Los Angeles for a bit – learning from plenty of talented comics – he returned to Denver.

He loves ski-town crowds, because, as he points out, they’re either wealthy or on vacation, so, generally, they’re pretty darn happy.


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