From small town Idaho to New York City (and in most cities in between), Ryan Hamilton has been making folks laugh all across the country, including a stint on NBC’S Last Comic Standing. This week he’s come back to Fairbanks for a second time to tell a few jokes and share a laugh with us. We caught up with the man named as one of ‘Five Comics to Watch’ by Rolling Stone to get his thoughts on our corner of the world and his comedy idols.
You were here last year – what made you want to come back to Alaska?
Ryan Hamilton: I had a great time last time and I wanted to see Alaska when it wasn’t the dead of winter. I was here over Thanksgiving last year and it was right in the middle of a cold snap! Now, it’s beautiful.
Is Fairbanks different than you expected? Anything you’re surprised by?
RH: I’m from very rural Idaho – it’s not Alaska, but I have a little bit of perspective on harsh winters and sparse populations! Alaska is definitely different than Idaho, but what’s really surprised me is the community of people, how close it is. Even in a bigger city like this, it has a small town feel for the size of it. It’s not a huge city, but it feels like the community is close here like you’d find in a smaller town in the continental US.
What else has really surprised me? It’s beautiful like I expected. I’m hoping to get out and really see more.
What is the best thing about performing live?
RH: Every show is different, I always love that it provides variety – you never know what’s going to happen show to show so that keeps things interesting. It’s fun – it’s fun to see people’s reactions, to see them laugh at something I thought was funny and now we’re sharing something. It’s fun to laugh together, and I like meeting new people… That’s an interesting question, I don’t know exactly why I enjoy it but I look forward to it.
I travel all the time, and I look at the travel and that aspect of it as the job and then the performance is like the perk. I look at performing as the thing I get to do because I’ve done all the travel and the being away from home, the payoff is the show.
What comedian makes you laugh?
RH: A lot of my friends who are comedians make me laugh, I live in New York City and I’m surrounded by great comedians all the time. Some of my favorites that I grew up with and have influenced me: Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, I liked watching Letterman growing up. Those are the people that I watched and have made me laugh my whole life.
I read that you are a fan of Mitch Hedberg…
RH: Oh yeah, I probably wouldn’t be doing comedy if it wasn’t for Mitch Hedberg; he was the first person that I really saw live. I’d been watching him on Letterman but I didn’t even know his name at that time, I was just a big fan from that, and I was walking by a comedy club (before I even started doing comedy) in Boston and his headshot was up so I went in. They had a few seats left and I decided while I was watching him that I was going to try doing more comedy. I’m not like him stylistically, but I like that he was so unique – he was such an influence on modern comedy and stand-up. He was just a joy to listen to.
Random question. What’s your favorite smell?
RH: Fresh baked bread.
What’s a question I should pose to the next person I interview?
RH: Was I a good interviewer? I turned the tables on you, see what I did!?
Look out, next interviewee – I’m going to have to ask you to rate me!
Performances are at The Refinery in North Pole on Thursday, The Blue Loon on Friday, and Kodiak Jack’s on Saturday, click the links for details. Many thanks to Alaska Comedy for bringing awesome stand-up to town. For a taste of Ryan’s humor, have a laugh with the video above.