Student comedian Ryan Hill sheds light on his routine

By Tommy Verdone

Kayla Marchetti/Daily Collegian
Kayla Marchetti/Daily Collegian

For a good laugh on campus, one doesn’t have to look too far anymore. The Slamherst Comedy Club, a relatively new RSO on campus, now hosts open mic nights every other Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the UPub in the Campus Center. Each week, aspiring comedians from all corners of campus come out and show their colors, and among them is senior Ryan Hill.

Hill, who says he first started doing stand up comedy for fun in high school, drew hearty laughs from the crowd of jokesters in the UPub last Tuesday. He approached the microphone with a timid air of confidence about him and addressed the crowd with, “Hi, my name is Ryan Hill. What is your name?” While the audience chuckled at his leading one-liner, he went on to say, “Please let me know if I’m shaking, also.”

“I’m a big fan of self-deprecating humor. I think it’s really important for comedians to be able to laugh at themselves,” Hill said to the room, “I’m just … really bad at it. I’m really bad at a lot of things.”

Hill took the microphone that night without any hint of the debilitating self-consciousness that one might expect from a young comedian. “I hadn’t done (stand up) for probably over a year, until before winter break, when I found out about the whole comedy night thing,” he said. “I did it a bit freshman year, though. My friends and I used to go to Van Meter open mics and just do weird funny stuff, and it was a lot of fun.”

His set contained an onslaught of one-liners such as, “My car won’t run, mostly because it doesn’t have legs,” and, “Sometimes I get really lonely. Other times I get really thirsty. Either way, I get to eat Danimals.”

Stand-up comedians come in all forms—some spend weeks working on material, while others come up with it on the spot. “The first time I performed at the UPub was a strange exception,” said Hill. “I didn’t know I was going up until just a couple hours before, so I wrote my entire set that I did that night over the course of two hours.”

As he is a double major in theater and English, coming up with creative content is nothing new to Hill. “I’m really into playwriting, at least recently,” he said, “I’m interested in taking the principles of what makes the timing of a stand up piece work, and how you can translate it into an actual scripted stage play that you’re working on with a group of people and not just yourself.”

Last semester, Hill wrote the play “Black Friday” that presented on campus.

Hill cites a number of sources as his biggest influences, among them television programs and comedians alike. “As far as comedians that I like, I grew up with Bill Cosby. He’s number one in the pantheon for me, but we’re not very similar. The way he can just sit down and tell a story and have it be absolutely hilarious is something I’ve always tried to be able to do.”

He added, “In high school I was introduced to Mitch Hedberg, and that was a big deal. I was like, ‘Man, I didn’t know people did stuff like this and got paid for it.’”

As for television programs, Hill said, “Since the age of ten, I really haven’t missed an episode of ‘Saturday Night Live.’” He also went on to say that “Louie” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” are some of his favorite shows. “Before that, the comedies I watched were like, ‘The Office.’ You know, funny stuff, but I didn’t know you could get away with the stuff ‘Sunny’ got away with on television, which I though was pretty cool.”

About the weekly open mic night, Hill said, “The people who come here on comedy nights are really just willing to laugh. Nobody is malicious; you don’t see people in the front row staring at you, waiting for you to make them laugh.”

Tommy Verdone can be reached at [email protected]