By Jane Fusco
Ann Marie Donahue nervously waited backstage at the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” show on Oct. 4 as her son Ryan, 26, was about to take the stage to make his national television debut as a stand-up comedian, before one of the kings of late night comedy.
Then came the cue from Kimmel. Please welcome Ryan Donahue.
“Hello everyone, good to see you. It’s good to get out, you can’t be at the gym 24/7,” Ryan said as he greeted the Kimmel audience. The rest was funny and flawless.
“It was a good set,” Ryan said.
Ryan said he always knew he was funny, and made his family and classmates laugh. He didn’t think comedy could be a career until he moved to Boston to attend Emerson College, and went to local comedy clubs, watching the showcases and realized comedy was a process to be learned. Comedy, he realized, is hard work.
Ryan began his comedy career in Boston nearly four years ago and has already achieved what has taken many well-known comics much longer to achieve. He has appeared at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and has become a regular in clubs throughout New England and across the country. He also hosts a weekly show in New York City called Hush Money.
In addition to the Kimmel show, last month he performed at the Comedy Studio, and headlined The Gas at Great Scott. He and his writing partner, fellow Emerson student Andrew Coalson, had their pilot script accepted at this year’s New York Television Festival. Last summer, he was invited to perform at the University of Alaska.
Growing up in Glocester, Ryan often uses his rural roots and family stories in his routines. All of Ryan’s family members take the jokes about them in stride. “It’s comedy after all,” Ann Marie said.
“You don’t choose the jokes you tell, they just occur,” Ryan said. He said that any joke he tells and goes over well with an audience is a good feeling. Before a show, he likes to have conversations with people around him to get into an extroverted frame of mind.
Ryan currently lives and works out of New York City. His wife, Ino, is an aspiring actor. He wants to continue doing stand-up comedy, telling stories, and write his own television show.
“I am learning through life experiences who I am as a comic,” he said. “I want to stay curious and motivated to keep learning.” And, he said, there is absurdity in everyday life that just makes things funny.
Follow Ryan Donahue’s comedy on Facebook or Twitter @RyanJayDonahue.