I’m not really sure how I discovered Ryan Shores. If I had to guess, the most likely scenario is that somewhere between browsing my favorite blogs and Twitter feeds, his unique brand of humor caught my attention. Not only has Ryan kept me laughing, he’s also a fellow horror enthusiast and one Hell of a nice guy 🙂
Ryan Shores is a bit of cult phenomenon. His first appearance on the comedy scene was in 2008 with the debut of his book, “Lotto Scratchers & Tall Cans”. Since then, he has not only qualified for the 2013 World Series of Comedy, but has remained endlessly busy touring and producing the wildly popular show, “The Degenerate Podcast”. If you haven’t already met Ryan Shores, you are in for a treat. So grab a beer, kick up your feet, and let’s go “Cruisin’ with the Tooz”!
1. What are the best and worst parts of being a professional comedian?
The best part of being a comic is finding out which of your feelings and thoughts are shared by everybody, and which ones are specific to just you (aka- “not funny”). The worst part is the 90% of comedy that takes place OFF stage. i.e., finding bookings, traveling alone, killing time all day in a crappy town/motel, getting screwed by promoters, occasionally taking financial hits and for ALL OF THAT – you get 10-25 minutes (longer when you’re headlining) to make that worth it… And some nights it’s not. If you travel to, lets say, Colorado to play a club, and somewhere between the plane landing and arriving at your Ramada, you discover your expenses will be outweighing your pay, and then you spend all day watching whatever is on TBS in the middle of the afternoon, and you’re lonely and bored, and can’t drink (you cant show up to the gig wasted) ….Then you FINALLY get to the club and no one is really into what you’re saying, and some drunk fat guy keeps yelling “SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE BRONCOS!!!!” – you just say, “ugh, what was the point of tonight this week?” – those are moments of discouragement, that usually require 3 good shows in a row to get canceled out in my own brain.
2. Where do you find inspiration for your jokes?
For me, inspiration comes from walking around, looking around and occasionally getting super irritated. I am not a comic that can just SCHEDULE time to write stuff. I can’t just sit at a table and say “Okay! Time to be funny! What’s funny??? What should I joke about today??!?” – it’s gotta come organically. Something has to happen to, or in front of me, to make me go, “Oh, I think there’s something I can use here!” –
The benefit of that technique is that it requires practically ZERO discipline on my part- but the downside is, if nothing happens for a while, I could go months without a new joke to try.
3. I’m a big fan of “The Degenerate Podcast”. How would you describe the show?
I guess I’d have to go with “trash talking in an organized fashion” – it’s a low budget show, but I’m proud of it sometimes. Basically, the formula we use when taping, is to talk like no one is listening (to not hold back), but put in the effort as if we had a billion listeners. We drink beer on the show, but no one is allowed to show up so drunk or high that they can’t perform. I can’t stand that. I have been very adamant with the cast since day 1, “Don’t be self conscious, say whatever you want, but show up with your brain working and CARE about whatever it is that you’re saying, no matter how stupid or trivial it is.”
4. Who was your favorite guest on the show?
I think Rob Brouillard from the band “The Strikers” was my favorite guest thus far because we were able to bring him out of his shell a little bit by the end of the episode. Rob’s a very nice guy, and a very well-liked musician, and so he’s very hesitant to say anything negative about ANYONE, and not just on tape! In person too. Which I think is a VERY admirable quality. I wish I had that. But by the end of a 2-hour episode with us, we had him spilling his guts a little bit about a few bands he’d toured with (for better or worse) and a few other things he may have otherwise remained respectfully mum about. It was some of the most fun I’ve had on the show.
5. Finish this sentence: “When I read the things that people say on social media I ___________.”
Sarcastically respond (out loud) “that was the GREATEST story…. I have EVER heard.”
6. What are your other interests besides comedy and drinking?
I’m a big fan of all things horror. I have been since I was 3. I collect horror art and old 1950’s EC horror comics. I also have a large VHS horror collection… Haha. I also have an interest in sharks. I spend about an hour or two every day researching sharks as a hobby. Their different species, migration patterns (what’s known of them), feeding habits, most common dwelling temperatures, etc… It’s this weird habit I’ve had for years. I have a large collection of guitars as well, but I’ve kinda neglected them in recent years.
7. If you could ask Charles Bukowski one thing, what would it be?
I’d say, “I loved your work in Black Flag.” (Kidding) – If I had a chance to meet Charles Bukowski, I’d ask him if his writing was cathartic, or depressing, or both. I’d ask him how often he talked to himself when he was alone, and whether he found himself to be his own best company or if being alone with his own thoughts for too long was difficult at times. And more specifically I’d ask him to compare Los Angeles now to his h yday, to determine what the MAJOR differences are, besides, iPhones, hashtags and social media “stars” hanging out places.
8. Which comedians have influenced you?
I always REALLY liked George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld as a kid. I probably listened to “You’re All Diseased” (Carlin) and “I’m Telling You For The Last Time” (Seinfeld) more times than those comedians rehearsed and performed those routines, however it never made me wanna be a comedian…. The person who inspired me to get into standup was Henry Rollins. When I was in college, I listened to NOTHING BUT Rollins’ spoken word in my free time. I REALLY loved how he called out everyday bullshit, and I REALLY wanted to do that too, but I knew I didn’t have any business doing “spoken word”… When you’re 23 and haven’t done shit in your life, and no one has ever heard of you, nobody is going to want to listen to you tell really long, single-subject stories that may or may not have any value to them… Plus, people that do “spoken word” are typically pretty arrogant and WILDLY untalented – so I chose to start learning how to do traditional standup to accomplish that same goal: make fun and yell about things that annoy me.
9. I’ve often heard you say “Cruisin’ with the Tooz”. Is this a reference to the book by John Matusdak, or are you just trying to confuse people?
I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED ME THAT!!! It’s BOTH!!! I really like looking up what happened to random pop culture people that no one thinks about anymore. It’s a hobby like researching sharks for no reason… Anyway, one day, I decided, “I wanna know what ever became of the dude that played Sloth in ‘The Goonies’!!” – which is how I stumbled across John Matuzak (aka “The Tooz”) – that dude was a riot! He got kicked out of the NFL for beating up a coach, made a little noise in Hollywood for a couple years as an extra/bit-part actor then died of a cocaine overdose. But BEFORE HE DID, he published his auto biography, titled “CRUISIN’ WITH THE TOOZ!!!” … For some reason, that title made me crack up so hard that I just started yelling it at the end of my shows with ZERO explanation to the audience and posting it on various social media platforms as like a faux-catch phrase. I never explained why, and people just kind of accepted it as random nonsense. People even started shouting it at shows, having NO IDEA what it meant…. And occasionally, people will get curious and google it, and be even MORE confused! Like, “The guy from the Goonies??? Thats who he keeps randomly referencing??? Why???” – so it’s like a private joke for me (and now you), and also a silent nod to the late, great John Matuzak…. Now someone please add me to his Wikipedia page as a footnote!!!
10. By now my readers are very interested in tracking you down and studying your body of work. Where can they find you?
Every episode of “The Degenerate Podcast” is available on iTunes for free, with new episodes every Friday (or Saturday if someone fucks up).