Tommy Ryman Q&A

July 5, 2022
Tommy Ryman worships Mitch Hedberg.

“My first joke that people liked was about the credit card scanners at Barnes & Noble and people not knowing how to use them and being like do I do it now? How about now? One woman said she couldn’t wait for the future when she can just press down her thumb and it’s paid for, and I was like that’s great for you but now I have to deal with a weird guy with a bag full of thumbs.”

You’ve said that your sister was the one who nudged you into an open-mic night. Did it feel good right away?

I did feel comfortable. I was just finishing up my degree as a theater major at the University of Minnesota and had done theater since sixth grade. I was used to being on stage but I was still nervous because had no idea if anyone would laugh at the ideas I thought were funny. Fortunately they did.

You have lived and worked in both Minneapolis and Los Angeles. How do the scenes compare?

I lived off and on in L.A. for four years. I was more established when I got  there so I was able to find regular stage time. There are a ton more comics in L.A.; I imagine it would be harder for a comic to start out in L.A. to try and find quality stage time. One of my favorite clubs to work in L.A. was The Comedy And Magic Club, in which Acme before it was Acme, the rib tickler the owner of that based the club off of The Comedy And Magic Club. So that was cool to find out when I first came down from Minneapolis. The Minneapolis scene is great and the newer class of comics work super hard and are producing some really cool shows. All the clubs currently in Minneapolis are wonderful, too.

Do you remember and can you share the first joke you wrote that killed on stage?

My first joke that people liked was about the credit card scanners at Barnes & Noble and people not knowing how to use them and being like do I do it now? How about now? One woman said she couldn’t wait for the future when she can just press down her thumb and it’s paid for, and I was like that’s great for you but now I have to deal with a weird guy with a bag full of thumbs.

You have something that most comedians don’t have, which is a distinctive presence. 

It took me a while to find my voice as a comic. Starting off I loved Mitch Hedberg. I would write my jokes but was doing them in the cadence of Mitch. I learned the structure of a joke by listening to Mitch. I feel like now I have found my voice and am authentic on stage but it didn’t come right away.

You’ve said that when you write it’s just an idea and you work it out on stage. Do you find the adrenaline helps your brain find the line?

One hundred percent. Yes, the adrenaline on stage helps me come up with a line. When I’m working something out at an open mic it is easier because the audience isn’t expecting a perfect show. For my regular shows I’m not trying brand-new stuff — maybe new jokes — but rarely would I do something the first time there.

What is next for you?

My third album Party Troll just came out and debut #1 on the iTunes comedy charts, I have a second Dry Bar special coming out later this year. Mostly I’m writing a ton and will be getting back on the road. I have a podcast as well — A Little Tom Foolery — that I do with another comedian, Rob Little. So I plan on continuing doing stand-up and hopefully finding more fans and enjoying what I do.