KC Ryan

Everyone's a Comedian on Social Media (and I Have a Problem with That)

TwitterLOL Thanks to social media, everybody thinks they're a comedian nowadays.

Newsflash: They're not.

Let's break this down: what makes a comedian? Making people laugh is usually the go-to answer. But anyone can make people laugh. My dog can make people laugh, but being startled by his own farts should not be an act. Instead, a comedian goes after that laugh all the time. It's a bit like an addiction. They understand beats, they understand character, and they understand that the success of a show works two ways - the comedian has to put him or herself out there and make the audience laugh, and the audience has to be open to the experience of enjoying themselves and laughing.

Now, look at social media.

There's a f***-ton of noise happening in social media.

Mind you, social media is a great platform for comedians. Especially Twitter, with that one-two punchline in 140 characters. But the most important people to a comedian is that audience that is willing to be open and laugh.

The biggest problem I find is most social media users immediately assume comedy immediately equivocates to insults or crude humor. Which is simply not true. Yes, those things can be funny, but the reason they are funny is because they are commenting on something that either we know to be true or we are afraid to say out loud. If you do not comment upon something or add to the conversation in a manner that is naturally funny and/or poignant, you just sound like an asshole. Read the room, dude! You have to know your audience and read the room. And I don't know about you, but you can't really get a good tell from Sandra_Mom_1342's avatar. All I know is that she loves baking and is proud of her honor roll student, so she may not have appreciated my joke about her “hot buns.” (Just so you know, there is no Sandra_Mom_1342, I’ve never tweeted her because she doesn’t exist. I googled it, she's not real, I don't want to be sued for libel.)

Also, sometimes those jokes are just akin to bullying.

The perfect analogy for this situation is akin to somebody sitting in their home, talking to the wall about whatever is trending, and then the Kool-Aid Man bursts in as a reply or retweet with a rude, not-at-all-thought-out joke or “liberal tears” meme on the nice conversation you were having with your wall. And sometimes the Kool-Aid Man isn't even the real Kool-Aid Man, but a college frat guy from Indiana with an "K" scribbled on a shirt with a permanent marker. And then when you acknowledge what he just did, he just spray paints something horribly offensive on your wall and then he high-fives his other Kool-Aid Man friend, and now you have a crumbling house structure and you have to call a general contractor...

Does that sound confusing? It’s because I’m not great with analogies. At least I tried.

Look, I'm not begrudging people for making jokes. There need to be more jokes. But what I find unfortunate is that most of these people trying to be comedic would never set foot on a stage or in an improv class where you can learn about listening and reacting honestly and, more importantly, collaboration. It can be a very selfish experience to just slap your accounts with multiple jokes, and with a platform as public as social media, there is already a fight to get your joke out there first. It doesn’t matter if you’re a comic or not. Rather than boosting each other up and “yes, anding,” we’re finding ourselves in a whirlpool where the intended audience no longer knows who is the troll anymore. (Hint: It might include anyone with a Pepe the Frog avatar.)

Sometimes I just want to say to those people, “You don’t have to be funny to be acknowledged or get attention or retweets. It’s OK to not be a comedian. Just like it’s OK for me to not be a teacher for no other reason but security, DAD!”

See, joke. I’m a comedian.

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.

Podcasting with Vulnerability

podcastcry I was listening to podcasts at work, as I am wont to do. One of them was a Carrie Fisher tribute from the Anomaly Podcast, hosted by my friends and the former home of my dearly departed podcast, Anomaly Supplemental. They established at the very beginning that they had to take the time to process the passing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds as they both grew up with them, and they didn't want to cry on the podcast. And while I respect the need to be articulate and stoic, or at least not on the verge of crying, I have to admit that I felt most connected to the episode when they were on the verge of tears.

Many people underestimate the power of being vulnerable on a public platform. It feels more comfortable to have the shield of entertainment and fluff because it protects our gooey centers. I should know. I'm not only an artist, I'm a comedian. But the best performers, visual artists, writers, musicians, and so on have to access their emotions and personal views. Of course, these things are extremely precious to us. So when we share them, we are either going to inspire or invite criticism.

One of my favorite podcasts right now is Matt and Doree's Eggcellent Adventure. The premise of this show is that spouses Matt Mira (The Nerdist, co-host) and Doree Shafrir (BuzzFeed, executive editor) share their experiences of trying to have a child via IVF. It's a personal and funny account inside the process of getting pregnant with the assistance of medical science. What I love about them is that they are honest about how rigorous IVF treatments are and the planning that is involved, as well as the interpersonal relationships with doctors and nurses and anyone else poking around poor Doree's uterus.

I love that Matt and Doree are both willing to be so open about it. Not everyone is willing to do that. I'm not even sure some people are capable of that. I think it's primarily because of fear of negative feedback and trolling. Now, Matt and Doree get nice feedback in their mailbox about how their listeners share similar experiences, curiously ask them why IVF instead of adoption, etc. It's a wonderful, interactive community they are building. And then Matt gets Twitter comments that straight up say, "You know there's this thing called adoption." Luckily Matt is a comedian and is used to this kind of thing happening. But that's kind of snarky, right? I cringe when I read things like that because people are being willfully ignorant. (Because everyone thinks they're a comedian. I'll be writing another blog on this next week. Stay tuned.)

Having a podcast that chronicles a personal journey or has at least one episode where the host or hosts are honest does not come without risk of snark, but it also has the beautiful advantage of allowing listeners to connect with them. I may not be anywhere near having a child right now, but I relate to Matt and Doree's infertility issues. I relate to that loss felt by my friends for Carrie Fisher. I want to relate. I wish podcasters were more willing to do that as their other entertainment and artistic counterparts do. Look, I’m not Brene Brown, but I do think that vulnerability has a place not only in our paintings and movies but also in our podcast feeds.

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.

Self-Care and Literally Worrying Yourself Sick

worrying Fact: If you overwork yourself with your day job, practice, classes, political activism, exercise, and personal commitments, you will end up getting a fever and coughing up a lung. In other words: I'm sick because I literally worried myself sick.

Let's face it, January just ended and it feels like the world has been turned upside down. The worst part of it is that our "on" lives don't stop. So we're pressured to be politically active on top of our own responsibilities. I have just learned that it is a recipe for burn out... as well as a fever and congestion that feels like my dog is sitting on my chest. And then your dog sits on your chest while you're sick and you feel like you're going to die.

I'm still getting used to this whole "self-care" thing, trying to exercise more and fitting in at least two-to-five minutes of meditation. However, sick or not, I'm noticing that being entertained and inspired relaxes me. That means reading something or watching something that makes me believe that the world is not a huge, twisted yarn ball of stress. I personally believe that watching YouTube videos of Jim Henson interviews and reading silly books with a bite of satire got me through the last month.

I'm sure you have your own go-to's for relaxing, but I thought you might also get a kick out of a few of mine. Because people love getting recommendations, forgetting about them, and then finding them on their own. Just remember, I was that little earworm that started it all. Wait, this is a blog. Eyeworm? OK, I'm gross, here's my list of happy-time yet still thought-provoking entertainment:

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Julie and Julia, film written and directed by Nora Ephron

Jim Henson: A Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Beauty is Embarrassing, documentary directed by Neil Berkeley

Waking Sleeping Beauty, documentary director Don Hahn

100 Days, YouTube series hosted by John Green

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.

Watching Sad Movies on Purpose, or Being Sad Leads to Being Funny

New Girl My husband texted me the other day to say that the film adaptation of A Monster Calls did not do so well at the box office financially.

"It's hard to market sad movies to kids," he said.

He's absolutely right. No one likes being sad on purpose.

OK, fine, except me.

For as long as I can remember, when I have had the opportunity to have the living space all to myself, I will make it a point to watch something other people don't want to watch: really f***ing sad movies. This includes Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie's Choice, My Girl, etc. Sometimes I will force my poor husband to join me in this activity. He is still very bitter about making him watch The Fault in Our Stars, of which he gave the glowing review, "That was a great movie—I never want to see or talk about it again."

The Fault in Our Stars

It's not fun to cry. Personally, my face gets red, my nose fills with snot, my eyes literally burn from the tears I'm shedding, and as the Tumblr kids like to say, I just "can't even." On the other hand, that emotional catharsis is something that we take for granted. We're always searching for how to be happier, to maintain a calm appearance at least 40 hours a week until we can get home and watch something funny to distract us from how miserable we were one (or more) day(s). No one is going to watch My Girl after a long day because he can’t see without his glasses, omg!!!

My Girl

Sometimes we need to be tricked in order to really feel something. No spoilers, but Star Wars: Rogue One is a very good and recent example of this. (Yeah, I'm looking at you Star Wars: Rogue One! My feels, man! My FEELS!) But then you leave the theater emptied of all the bad that happens and you somehow feel better. Sure, your boss may be waiting for you on Monday with a huge stack of papers, but at least you're not the little girl at the end of Pan's Labyrinth! (Yes, that was a spoiler for Pan’s Labyrinth. Sorry, bro. It came out 10 years ago. If you haven’t seen it within 10 years, it was not high on your to-do list.)

More importantly, you connected to a very human part of yourself. I'm depressive, but that doesn't mean I cry all the time. It's more like the part of Inside Out where the emotion control center shuts down, and the character Riley is just sort of numb to everything. The ability to laugh, cry, rage, fear... it keys you into parts of yourself that you try to ignore, but are so essentially you. Because it's once you get in touch with that part of yourself that you can move on and make jokes about it. Tragedy and comedy—the difference is timing and whether or not Kevin Kline has a mustache.

Kevin Kline

I highly recommend being sad for a brief period of time. Preferably due to a fictional circumstance that lasts about two hours or less. And with something to cuddle with... maybe a pet. A stuffed animal is also acceptable. No judging.

Inside Out

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.

contest4improv4humans Pep Talk, or The Improv Podcast, Part II

contest4improv4humansI talk about podcasting a lot. It’s kind of what I do. In fact, it’s what I’ve been doing on this blog for about a year now. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that comedian and podcaster Matt Besser of improv4humans has announced "contest4improv4humans," in which a team of three-to-four people will perform a20-minutee improv set based on a suggestion from the audience and then discuss it. Basically the format for improv4humans.

I hope no one told Matt Besser about how I think improv podcasts are the hardest to do because it’s such a visual medium! HAHAHAHAHA! So funny! I wasn’t being honest at all! Especially as I represent the Dallas Comedy House! (KC, why can’t you predict the future? And why are you talking to yourself? In written format? On a very public blog? Stop that, people might notice…)

Look, I am willing to help anybody who is willing to work in a podcast format. So after reading the rules and regulations of the podcast, I think I can provide some tips to get on the team for "contest4improv4humans," or that deep-down dream of having an improv podcast.

  1. Think of performing at a table like you would a Bat show or performing in the dark. You have to set up the scene with the who, what, and where and still be able to paint a picture for the audience. Actually, this may be more effective advice for some of you: Imagine you’re making a cartoon. We are trained as improvisers to use the stage and to be physical, but there are plenty of improv comedians who have done voice work for cartoons and have gone off-script while still in character. Go to YouTube and look up videos of Robin Williams performing as the Genie in the booth.
  2. Admittedly, this is a superficial microphone tip, which you may or may not be using for the contest. So if you’re starting a podcast, whether or not you are on the team for contest4humans, this is for you. Be aware of how close you are to the microphone and how loud you are. I am a naturally loud person, which means I have to be a certain distance from the mic. If you are a quiet person, you may want to be closer to the mic. A general rule of thumb is making the “hang 10” sign and that is the approximate distance that should be between you and your mic. Also, in terms of diction, beware of popping your “p’s,” especially if you don’t have a pop filter. It’s not fun to hear. This is why the Pop-Pop guy from Community shouldn’t have a podcast.
  3. Most important: Just because you’re sitting at a table in front of a microphone doesn’t mean you need to limit who you are as a performer. In fact, I’ve found that I’m more free in my characters behind a microphone because speaking in silly voices and bad accents is something I’m more comfortable doing with a microphone than doing live. Go big! Be brave!

Really, in the end, it’s all about having fun. If you’re going for the "contest4improv4humans," you go do it! If you just want to get a microphone and play some improv games with your friends, you can do that too. I still stand by the opinion that improv is one of the hardest formats to translate into audio. However, if you’re dedicated to improv, then I’m telling you now to get out there and prove me wrong. Get it, girl!

contest4improv4humans at the Dallas Comedy House

The Dallas Comedy House (DCH) is a participating theatre for the contest, and here's what you need to know to enter (thank you, Maggie, for the info!).

Here's how it works:

  • We can accept a max of six teams
  • Teams must have three-to-four members. There can be no overlap in members (you can only participate on ONE team)
  • Each set will be taped on February 12 at DCH
  • Our three DCH judges determine a winner and post the video for improv4humans to watch. Their panel of judges determines three “finalists” from the nation, who will record an hour-long show at DCH (fingers crossed). From those three finalists, Matt Besser determines the winner

All teams must follow this format:

  • Teams will take a suggestion, discuss it, and then perform a scene (repeat three times).
  • Groups must be seated at a table the whole time
  • Show should be 15-to-20 minutes

For additional details, email david@dallascomedhouse.com. To submit for consideration, click

To submit for consideration, click here.

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.

Minimalism and Tiny Houses

tiny-house1Once again, I find myself decluttering my life using Marie Kondo's Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I did this last year in February and decided to give it a go again after the influx of Christmas gifts. (Yay, consumerism! You are grossly materialistic, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like gifts!) I grew up thinking that having lots of stuff meant that you were well off and loved. Christmas was the holiday because you received presents like stuffed animals and books with which you could stock your shelves. The worst punishment my mom and dad had was that if I didn't do something, they would take away a material item from me. Now I'm older, married, and more than 800 square feet is too much for me to bare in terms of cleaning and decluttering. As my husband and I drive by the houses on Lover's Lane or Preston Hollow, we are filled with rage to the point where we could go Dark Side. Because those are multi-million dollar homes that are trying to take up the whole block.

"That house is bullsh*t!" we cry from our car. "How many rooms are in there? Do you have 11 kids running around, or do you just have a bazillion guest rooms for your imaginary friends? Would you like to pay off our student debt or donate to some charity foundations because YOUR HOUSE IS A MOUNTAINOUS CASTLE OF BRICK AND BULLSH*T! AND YOU ARE ITS KING AND QUEEN!"

My husband and I have discussed going toward a more minimalist lifestyle so that we can easily maintain a home. Plus, it's technically a cheaper lifestyle, which would allow us to travel more. Hence the tidying up for life-changing magic. Thanks, Marie.

The biggest part of my interest in this? Tiny houses!

I'm pretty open about my love of Tiny House Hunters. First of all, it's ridiculous--the formula of men wanting a compost toilet vs. women vehemently against compost toilets is hilarious, as is the accidental catchphrase, "It's so small! Where are we going to put all our stuff?" Classic. My favorite is the family of six wanting to move into a space that allows 100 square feet per person, and the realtor basically infers that they’re crazy for doing it. Give this show an Emmy for existing.

But most of all, I think I'd just prefer a small space. I hate decorative items that are just there and don’t serve a purpose, and the same goes with rooms. I don't need a dining area--I eat in front of the TV. This is what normal people do now. You watch Westworld or Tiny House Hunters and you eat store-bought sushi. You know what else I don't need? Three additional bedrooms outside of the master bedroom. One as a guest room? Sure. Maybe use one as a workout room-slash-office? That's a stretch, but OK. What about the third room? I'm not adopting a child just so I can fill that room! Also, confession time: I don't want a large kitchen. There, I said it. Everyone's future home wish list has a "large, open kitchen." I want an open kitchen, yes. But a large kitchen to a five-foot-two-inch woman is a nightmare. I cannot climb on top of countertops to reach things for the rest of my life. That's dangerous, I'm going to break a hip and die. (That seems illogical, but knowing my luck, breaking a hip will lead to my immediate death.)

This is a far off, distant dream as my husband and I have to work off student debt before we even consider owning a home outright. But still, it's nice to have these plans in place. Also, look at how cute these Victorian and cottage-y tiny houses are! Sooooooo cuuuuuuuute!

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="5" gal_title="Tiny Houses"]

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.