Comedian Ryan Hamilton will perform at The Musikfest Café in Bethlehem on Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m.
Hamilton has opened for Jerry Seinfeld, performed on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and produced his own Netflix comedy special, “Happy Face.”
Hamilton’s interest in comedy sparked from watching cable shows featuring stand-up comedians as a child. He was drawn to solo performers, and always had an interest in trying it out himself.
Around age 10 he started reading a humor column in the Sunday newspaper, and eventually started writing his own comedy column in the same paper, starting his comedic career.
In college, Hamilton studied journalism and performed stand-up on a radio show, then eventually transitioned to performing a live stand-up comedy show for fun.
After college, he decided to pursue comedy for a year to see his potential in the field. He’s been performing comedy ever since.
Hamilton’s dreams came true after he was able to produce an hour-long comedy special, “Happy Face” on Netflix.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is tour and perform stand-up comedy in theatres and that was the first kind of step of moving into theatre, shooting that special and starting to do shows, like I’m doing in Bethlehem, in smaller theatres. It was all kind of that trajectory,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton, who has toured with Seinfeld in the past, said that Seinfeld now serves as a friend and mentor to him.
“He loves to talk about comedy and we get to talk about it all the time, so that’s been one of the greatest opportunities of my career—to be around him and watch him work,” Hamilton said. “It’s elevated my work and made me inspired by his work ethic and his professionalism, so I’m taking everything I can from this experience and applying it to my shows coming up.”
Even though Bethlehem is a smaller city than he usually performs in, he said he is excited to return. Hamilton said he always looks back on his Bethlehem shows as fantastic experiences with energetic and involved audiences.
Hamilton has been working on new material for his performance. Before a show, he said he knows exactly what he is going to say, and that all of his material has been approved.
“It makes you nervous, of course, but you’ve been working on the set for a long time,” Hamilton said. “It’s kind of like it’s game day, you put on your game face and you’re ready and it’s fun.”
Hamilton said he thinks of material for his comedy sketches after being struck with interesting ideas from something someone will say, or with a personal experience he had. These thoughts may not be funny, but just relatable or interesting enough to spark people’s interest. He said refines the material over and over again until he is satisfied with his content.
Ryan Hill, programming director at ArtsQuest, is overseeing the Hamilton show.
Hill learned about Hamilton after watching him perform in New York, and booking him on smaller shows. After Hamilton started gaining popularity, and ended up on an agency roster, Hill booked him for bigger shows in bigger venues.
Hill said they are really looking forward to Hamilton’s return and performance. He expects about 350 to 400 people to attend the show, with most of the audience ranging from 30 to 40 years old.
“A unique aspect of Hamilton’s performance is that he is designated as a ‘clean comic,’ so he appeals to a broad audience,” Hill said. He said some people will not attend stand-up shows if it is not with a clean comic for fear of hearing bad language or inappropriate material.
Hamilton would love to have Lehigh students who are fans of stand-up attend his show, even if they haven’t yet heard of him.
Bradley Susskind, ‘22, who plans on attending the show, is an avid stand-up comedy fan.
“I like how passionate the comedians can get, and if they really get into it it’s more fun,” Susskind said. “They’re able to make you laugh just by using their voice and their body whereas TV shows have a whole situation and a whole setup…so it’s really cool.”
Hamilton is extremely passionate about stand-up, calling it the best job of his life.
“I’m in charge of every aspect of my show, I get to decide and maintain all creative freedom and autonomy,” Hamilton said. “I also love the work itself, traveling and meeting people and performing is just so fun. Those two things combined really make it the best job in my life,” Hamilton said.