Credit: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Fringe Andrew Ryan

Bringing his Irish charm and sharp wit to the Edinburgh Fringe 2014, Andrew Ryan is one comedian to watch.

Venue: Gilded Balloon (Venue 14)
Interview by Laura Jeffrey
The first thing you notice about Andrew Ryan is his endearing Irish accent. It’s one of those soft, lilting voices which is immediately likeable, and impossible to say no to - no wonder he loves living in England so much.

As with many comedians it is the tone and texture of the voice that captivates and holds the audience when on stage. Andrew agrees that he could read a bus timetable and people would enjoy listening, “it’s like I’ve got a little extra golden ticket. English people mention it and bring it up all the time - you’re like a toy you know. Though, sometimes I’ll say a phrase and an English person will just look at me and I’ll have to redo it all.”

Andrew, however, does not have to rely on his accent and Irish charm to carry the show for him, his quick, witty improv and cleverly written comedy would be enough on their own. His new autobiographical show, ‘The Life of Ryan’ hitting the Fringe in August, deals with all the usual things people in their thirties seem to be doing which for some reason he is not. Everyone around him is getting married, having kids and settling down, whereas he's making people laugh for a living. He’ll also talk about his decision to go teetotal for a year – that’s going to take some explaining to a Fringe audience; ‘I gave it up for 12 months as a bit of a test to see how different my life would be if I didn’t drink it.’ The practice might not be fun, but at least it makes good stand-up material. Andrew’s old jobs will also crop up: ‘For example when I was 19 I used to be a private investigator,’ enthuses Andrew, ‘And when I was 23 I got rejected from a job in Primark. A total low point.’

In all, ‘The Life of Ryan’ is straightforward autobiographical stand up, which is all the better for its traditional approach. After asking him if he has ever considered more political comedy, Andrew replies, ‘No, people would say my comedy is very main-stream, and that’s the style I feel most comfortable with. It’s not religious, it’s not political. But it’s not that I don’t like political comedy - if you do it well then it can be very good. I think comedy should have a bit of a point to make but that point shouldn’t be forced.’

It is true that Andrew doesn’t push politics into his act but, in connection to his personal life, he puts a strong challenge across to Nigel Farage and rising Euroskepticism: ‘I have a bit in my show about immigration because I would be classed as an immigrant,’ says Andrew, ‘In Ireland we have a population of 5 million but we have 8 million people who own Irish passports. We need to be more focused on keeping the Irish out of Ireland, than the problem of a couple of thousand EU immigrants.’

When listening to Andrew confidently flit between anecdotes, it’s difficult to believe that comedy isn’t something he’s always done. He tells me that, though he always wanted to do it, he never believed it was a realistic option: ‘I grew up in Northern Ireland where there was only one comedy club and that was only open one night a month. It never really seemed a possible career, particularly where I was living.’

Even after moving to England his early stand up attempts were awkward, embarrassing and didn’t last more than a few minutes. Now happily laughing about it, Andrew tells me about his fist try: ‘it was an open mic at a comedy club, I decided to give it a go and after two minutes I got booed off and I never did it again for about a year. Then I did it a second time and I got one laugh just before I got booed off again. At that point I thought if I can get one laugh I can get two, and if I can get two laughs then I can get three.’ It is undeniable that Andrew's philosophy has paid off.

Today Andrew’s mum is his only critic, ‘she’s constantly like you didn’t need to say that there or you shouldn’t have said that in that way’, but the rest of us can only sit back and try to contain our laughter.

Gilded Balloon (Venue 14)
Teviot Row House
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