Katherine Ryan – For comedian Katherine Ryan, comedy was always something that she really valued throughout her life.
“My dad came from an Irish background, and he always enjoyed telling humorous stories with the rest of the family. We also enjoyed telling funny stories to each other at the dinner table, which was quite engaging. I even liked watching ‘The Golden Girls’ with my grandmother,” she said during a recent phone interview.
Ryan, a native of Sarnia, Ontario, always had that need to have a laugh and make people laugh; however, when she was in school, having a sense of humour was not the way to make new friends. “My schoolmates always regarded me as being rather strange. They thought comedy was sort of a detriment towards having a social life.”
When she moved to Toronto, where she studied city planning at Ryerson University, Katherine found out that there was much easier access to the comedy world. While working with the Hooters restaurant chain to train waitresses and help set up new branches, she decided to try her luck at an amateur night at Yuk Yuk’s in downtown Toronto. Not only did she find developing herself as a stand-up comic a means of personal entertainment, but it had other benefits as well. “It was there that I discovered that having a sense of humour can make you feel quite useful and engaging. In a way, you feel that you have joined a like-minded community,” she said.
In the summer of 2007, after graduating from Ryerson – and continuing her Hooters corporate job – Katherine decided to follow her then-boyfriend to England because he wanted to spend some time exploring London. “I initially tried it for a month. Then it turned out to be three months, then six months, then a year. After that, I decided to stay,” she said.
While she was working at an office job in London, Katherine made the decision to give stand-up comedy another try. And what she discovered was a whole new world when it came to how British comedians approached their brand of humour, and the audiences they were set to entertain.
“The British love pop culture, especially TV and celebrities, and its comedians are influenced not only by their peers, but also by the culture and the politics in the UK. They are always interested what I had to say about these topics, especially because I am an outsider. It’s like a melting pot of influences, and hanging around other British comics was like college. You start and grow up with the same group of people,” she said.
What also helped Katherine’s development as a comic in Britain was that she was fortunate to be surrounded by – as well as influenced by – different generations of comics, such as Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle and Jo Brand (aka “The Sea Monster”). She even got the chance to be the opening act for Stewart Francis, a Canadian comic who resides in Britain, during one of his tours.
From there, Katherine became a widely-seen figure in the British comedy scene, whether it be as a comedian, actress, writer or presenter (emcee) on a variety of British television panel shows, sitcoms, comedy specials and series. In 2016, she embarked on her own cross-UK tour called “Kathbum”, which evolved into her own Netflix special “Katherine Ryan: In Trouble” the following year.
And now Katherine has returned to Canada in general – and Just For Laughs in particular (she performed on the Whitney Cummings gala back in 2013) – to display her talents as a comedian and presenter to host “The Stand Show with Katherine Ryan” from July 25 to 27 at the L’Astral; the six shows that are going to be part of this series – and are going to be taped for later broadcast on the Comedy Network — will showcase a wide variety of stand up comics from around the world such as Andy Kindler, Tim Dillon, Graham Chittenden, Ms. Pat, Colin Quinn, Mark Forward, Nish Kumar, Todd Glass, Matteo Lane and Big Jay Oakerson.
“The Stand Up Show is going to be a celebration of the range of diverse voices that makes up what stand-up comedy is all about. There is no right or wrong way to how to be a stand-up comic,” she said. “Right now, it’s another amazing time for stand-up comedy. There is so much social and political unrest going on these days, that people are turning to comedians more than ever, because they feel that they are reaching out to them through their comedy.”
For more information – or to purchase tickets – The Stand Up Show with Katherine Ryan or any other Just For Laughs show, go to www.hahaha.com.