IXclusive Interview: Just For Laugh's All Stars Dom Irrera and Ryan Hamilton
With Montreal’s 2014 Just For Laughs festival finally underway, we at IX Daily got a chance to talk with The All Star Show’s Ryan Hamilton, and host Dom Irrera about the upcoming festival and their much anticipated show.
IX Daily: So, what got you interested in stand-up comedy?
Ryan: Oh boy… I always loved watching comedy, you know? As a young kid I loved watching comedy and I don’t know what attracted me to it, but I've just always loved it. I don’t know. I mean, I started doing some shows when I was very young, like 18, but I didn't really touch it again until many years later when I was 25/26. After I graduated from college I started taking it more seriously. It just looked so much fun, you know? And I loved the combination of the creative process with performing. I've always been attracted to things that are kind of individual and singular, and comedy is very much like that. You do everything. So I think that’s why.
Dom: An archangel came to me and gave me my act, then I brought it to the little people… It was the only thing I was good at. It was very easy to concentrate on one thing when you’re really bad at everything else.
IX Daily: Where do you get your material from?
Ryan: Life. Just anywhere it can, it just comes. It comes from all different places. Typically, I just have a thought, or something happens, and I think there’s potential in it. It’s not very funny in that moment, but I think it’s an interesting experience, or an interesting angle on an observation, and then I just make that funny.
Dom: Just whatever, you know, whatever happens in a day. I mean, just family and friends, and what people say... (laughing) Or I steal it from much better comedians and change it.
IX Daily: How does it feel to be considered an ‘all star’?
Dom: Oh, I’m just the host of the all-stars. I’m just a hack with a hook. No, it’s going to be a good show. It’s really going to be a fun show. I saw the lineup and I pretty much know everybody on the show, and I have a history with them, so… it’s going to be a great show. Everybody likes each other, except for one person who we all hate and I can’t disclose who that is.
Ryan: It feels great! I’m thrilled to be on that show. It’s always great, it has such a great reputation, so just to be a part of it with all the other talents who are involved... I’m really honoured to be on that show.
IX Daily: Is there a comedian you wish was going to be part of the show, but isn't?
Dom: No, not really. I mean, I think they did a good job. It’s an interesting concept because these are not new faces. These are real pros, you know?
IX Daily: Do you have a favourite city, or venue, that you like to perform in?
Ryan: I love performing in Montreal. The people are so comedy savvy because the festival has been coming there for so many years and they really seem to take pride in it, from an outside perspective looking in. And what’s amazing about Montreal is the number of amazing venues. There’s so many! I can’t actually think of a venue in Montreal that I haven’t enjoyed performing in... All the venues are good for different shows, you know? Even the big venues are very intimate, and the small venues work well because you don’t get that all the time… What’s great about Montreal is that you get to rub shoulders and they (the other comedians) become your peers up there for a couple of weeks. All these people that I've looked up to for so many years, I get to work with them and meet them. So Montreal is that experience for me. I've worked with many people in the years I've done Montreal. It’s kind of a special time when you’re up there
Dom: I don’t want to sound like I’m stroking Montreal, but Montreal is definitely one them. Kilkenny, Montreal, I would say Boston, Philadelphia, Miami.
IX Daily: Any show that sticks out in your mind as your best show?
Dom: Nah. I don’t think there’s any one best show. I mean, it’s such a combination of you and the audience, so I couldn't say. It would be hard for me to pick one.
Ryan: There are little moments that make me think, “this is kind of a milestone or a highlight” you know? I did a show in Idaho recently, a theatre show, a couple of years ago near where I grew up. I’m from a very small town, so there’s not really opportunity for me to perform in my home town, but I did something 30 miles away involving the entire community around there. And lots of people that I grew up with came out to this theatre show, and it was so much fun. That was a moment. Coming home is kind of a cool moment.
IX Daily: Alternatively, a show that sticks out in your mind as your worst one?
Dom: That would probably be last night. No, I’m kidding. Worst show… I don’t know.
Ryan: Yeah, I tend to not remember those as well, but (laughs) there are many. I started doing really terrible one-nighters, where you do comedy one night a week, or one night a month, at a bar in a very small town… I did a lot of those when I first started and so many of them were terrible, yeah.
IX Daily: Any pre-show rituals?
Dom: I take a big bubble bath, and then I rinse myself up, and then I do a handstand for about an hour. I start walking around on my hands like a monkey and they throw tangerines at my butt, and then I go on. You know, same old same old. (laughing) But no, I don’t have any rituals. You know, it’s just when they call my name I walk out there and then they give me a light and I walk off. And hopefully they had a good time.
IX Daily: Do you ever get nervous before going on?
Ryan: Sure, I get nervous, because I want to please people who have come to see me again. That’s what makes me nervous. I’m not so, you know, I wouldn't call it stage fright, but I do have nerves about, you know, upholding the standards people expect. So there’s certain shows I get nervous about, yeah.
IX Daily: Last question, and a left-fielder, but we have to ask because we’re IX. Do you have a favourite artist or musician our reader should know about?
Dom: I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in today’s music, so I would say the Beatles are my favourite. I’ll tell you, those kids are terrific. The harmonies, the writing, they’re brilliant. I like Eminem as far contemporary music, and I’m a big Miley Cyrus fan. I stalk her, I follow her around. I go to all her concerts alone, which is really sad. Just being there alone, cheering for Miley.