Hugs achieved: x 1
A surprisingly tall fellow, nails glittering with silver sparkles, Ryan Good is a joy to meet. His heart lies in putting on a show, often with the ultimate aim of having some level of impact. “I want people to know I do this because I love it, I write to do something new”! Ryan adds that he asks himself a question about his show material “Why does this matter now? ...whether that’s for me personally…. Or whether it is something in the cultural zeitgeist that should be talked about”. Sometimes Ryan has considered taking his show to more traditional areas such as a “guy in front of a mic”, “telling jokes” and “wearing normal clothes”. But then he says “before I know it I’m in a leotard or a wedding dress, lube in my hair and lipstick on my tits”!
Let’s make this point clear, Ménage, as Ryan says “is not a comedy”. Ménage is an immersive verbatim piece (two audience members per show) about sex work in Australia and the United Kingdom. This issue is a deep and intricate one, which we spent a bit of time discussing. Ryan describes during our chat his desire to take care with the topic, treat it sensitively but also fairly. “The biggest thing that doesn’t come across in the marketing (of Ménage)… all of the words were taken directly from interviews a journalist and I did with sex workers…it showed me how much I appreciate their words over mine”. For the performers, Ryan says it is important they talk to the audience and “not the back wall”. Claire Fox and Melbourne-based Jessica Stanley “bring different things to the role” but are both excellent performers, says Ryan. Being an immersive and very intimate show “there is three times as much work” but Ryan comments it is a “truly unique experience” and, not that he’s biased, a 2016 Melbourne Fringe must-see.
Cosmonaut premièred in Edinburgh, did a short run in New York and has even had Aussie exposure in Perth and Adelaide, to pretty good reviews! The show is “about love, relationships, broken hearts, male feminists, and what happens when Cosmopolitan magazine becomes your guide to romance”. And that’s what Ryan has done, he really did read every issue of Cosmopolitan magazine! “I was going to the British library everyday…they got to know me as the guy who was requesting massive amounts of Cosmo.” Ryan adds, “you can only request six months at a time…so I would put in eight requests at the beginning of the day. Meanwhile I’ve got two interns in New York who are reading microfilm at the New York public library of the US addition”. Going through the “weirdest piecemeal course in women’s studies you can take” helped form the show and provide a platform of “pressures of the contradictory messages of the western world” from which this show launches. Cosmonaut also has a fair bit of audience participation as Ryan describes it "an Andy Richter to my Conan”. What Ryan does want for this audience participant is for them to “feel taken care of”. He recounts his own experience being pulled up during a Sam Simmons show, “I had to do to some ridiculous stuff on stage but he was doing more ridiculous stuff, I felt safe while I was doing it”. Through deliberation, planning and workshopping, Ryan has found the mechanism to deliver a show that finds the right balance between zany comedy and pathos.
Based in New Orleans but performing globally, there are some challenges performing around the world, particularly around language and colloquialisms…including confusing the meaning of “wizz”! “I should have known from the Pulp song. I love that album”, says Ryan. While very keen to do more Television work, think Madmen 2.0, Ryan never plans to “abandon the stage entirely”!
As down to earth as Ryan is during our chat, he can’t hide the performer inside. For one, every time he moves his hand I see the faint shimmer of his glittered nail polish. After I remark on it, Ryan is quick to add that he is excited about a particular nail polish his contact in the business has for him, one that is usually for cars; “my fingers might fall off but they will look fucking fabulous”!
Ryan is “the first one to say that I am grateful for the audiences who come to my show” and his show Cosmonaut illustrates this with his genuine and sincere performance (read the full review here). If you’re looking for a show with a mix of meaning and entertainment, check him out.
Ryan is performing ‘Cosmonaut’ from 16 September to 1 October and ‘Stupid and Contagious’ from 24 September to 1 October at the Fringe Hub (521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne). ‘Ménage’ is on from 16 September to 1 October also at the Fringe Hub. Don’t miss out!
If you’re a Melbourne-based comedian or just passing through, please get in touch here or on Twitter so we can chat about comedy! Warning, there may be hugs involved.