Some of the most successful comedians connect with audiences by relating stories from their own life experiences.
While growing up in Kettering, Ryan Singer’s experiences led him to suspect that he wanted to perform in front of people, but comedy wasn’t his first career choice.
“I went to school at St. Albert the Great,” Singer said. “Until I was about 12 years old, I wanted to be a priest.”
Singer said he memorized the entire Catholic Mass and couldn’t wait to “perform” it in front of large groups of people. But his mother knew immediately that being a priest wasn’t her son’s best career path.
“My mom overheard me talking about being a priest because I wanted to be up on a stage,” Singer said. “She said I just wanted attention.”
Singer not only loved attention, but he also loved making people laugh.
“I remember watching Johnny Carson and David Letterman on TV with my parents and thinking there is nothing better than making adults laugh,” Singer said.
After graduating from Alter High School, Singer attended Bowling Green University, became a theater major and worked on becoming more comfortable on stage.
“In college I started writing about things that happened to me,” Singer said. “I figured some of that stuff could turn into jokes one day.”
Singer ended up dropping out of college to move to Los Angeles with a friend. But without realizing much success in stand-up, he soon returned to Ohio and started pursuing a career in teaching
“When I first started, I was angry and dark and I used a lot of adult language,” Singer said. “But having an audience of nine- and ten-year-old kids made me realize I needed to clean up my act if I ever wanted to get work as a comedian.”
Singer took his act to both Joker’s and Wiley’s comedy clubs in Dayton, and it was there he started coming into his own as a young comic.
“My career really started to take off when I was 25,” Singer said. “I hung out constantly at the clubs and stayed in the Midwest because of how great it is for stand-up.”
With many comedy clubs within a day’s drive, Singer said he was excited to travel and build his career in stand-up.
“It was a very romantic idea — living on the road,” Singer said. “But after you start doing it, you realize it’s difficult. But it’s worth it for sure.”
In 2008, Singer said his comedy changed. He realized that the happier he was, the funnier he was.
“I remember thinking when I was starting out that a happy comic won’t be funny,” Singer said. “No one wants to see someone on stage talk about how great their life is.”
But it turned out the opposite was true and Singer’s material and focus slowly began to change. In 2011, Singer again left Ohio for California and settled in Glendale, renting a “cheap room,” and working to take his career to the next level.
“At some point you have to be in the center of the industry,” Singer said. “And that’s LA. You can be successful in other places, but if you want to be in front of the people auditioning for movies and TV, you have to be here.”
With two albums under his belt, both recorded in Cincinnati, Singer had built a successful career in the Midwest, but said he had to start again in California.
“One of the biggest struggles about moving out here was how solitary it made me feel,” Singer said. “Even if you are holding steady, you feel like you are free-falling into obscurity at any moment and may never work again.”
The good reviews started coming in and Singer’s success in comedy has led to other opportunities, including writing and acting.
“Everybody has these great characters in their lives,” Singer said. “If the audience listens and feels like they know you, that’s sometimes the biggest laughs you will get. The audience already knows the punch line. They just never put it into words.”
Singer will be returning to Dayton over the upcoming holiday season and performing at Wiley’s Comedy Club in December, saying he couldn’t be happier about being from Kettering, Ohio.
“There’s something that will always make me an Ohio guy,” Singer said. “I’m grateful for that and that’s why I always love coming back home to perform.”
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