A Conversation with Brad Ryan | Local Vocal | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

If you've ever noticed a lanky dude in a UPS truck cracking himself up at red lights around Green Tree, you may already know Brad Ryan. Ryan, 38, is a regular at the Funny Bone's Tuesday and Wednesday amateur nights. He's been cracking wise onstage for seven months after checking out a standup-comedy class at CCAC. He's been driving a UPS truck for 17 years, and jumping out of airplanes for over a decade.


When people hear that you do comedy, what's their reaction? "Tell me a joke, funnyman"?

Yeah. "What, are you an accountant? Crunch some numbers for me." "What, are you a massage therapist? I got a little knot, right in my groin area." I throw a lot out in the office. You can't go in there and tell the joke about, you know, your mother catchin' you loving yourself one time. You've got to keep it somewhat clean. If I come up with a joke I really really like, I'll tell everybody on my route. When I was a kid, I was a chronic bedwetter, but boy, my parents put a stop to that: They bought me an electric blanket.


How does your UPS work figure in to your material?

I have several minutes of UPS material. I actually had the privilege of some repeat customers at the Funnybone. A group from FedEx showed up. There were like 27 of them. I of course had to do all my UPS stuff. I don't just deliver boxes. I deliver smiles. What can Brown do for you?


What's your favorite part of being onstage?

I've had so much fun this year and met so many cool people. You know, you go to a party with a bunch of comedians, you're gonna laugh some. I've always been into thrill sports: snowboarding, white-water rafting, skydiving. I can truly say that standup comedy is a thrill sport also, you know, because there is a rush you get up there that you don't just get cruisin' the Starbucks.


Were you a class clown in high school?

Yeah, I would have to say so. I was, you know, like an under-the-radar sort of class clown.


So you weren't the guy that got voted homecoming queen, I mean king ...

No, I got a couple votes for homecoming queen, but my dad straightened that shit out. I ran for homecoming king the next year.


Certain stuff is guaranteed to piss people off. Do you avoid hot-button issues?

No. I had a couple black jokes, I've done them in front of black people and you know, rightfully, that could piss a couple people off. I've done a couple gay jokes. I'm not bashing any one nationality or any one culture, but there are stereotypes for pretty much everything, and you can joke about stereotypes and that's not bashing a certain group.


How do you handle a heckler?

There's a couple different kinds of hecklers, I've learned. There's the drunk, happy heckler, just joining in, becoming part of the show, part of the fun. There's the guy who thinks he's very very very funny, and he thinks he's funnier than you and he's going to try to make that point. And then there's the heckler that's just happy, wanting to help you. There's some common rebuttals for hecklers, you always keep a couple in your pocket for a heckler. You have to shut 'em up. You ever hear the Budweiser commercials on the radio? "Real Men of Genius ... Mr. Open-Mike Comedy Heckler! Yeah, this Bud's for you! Makin' an ass outta yourself! Crack open a cold Bud, and choke on it!"


It's the busy season for delivery people everywhere. Are there any special Christmas frustrations for you?

People who hang Christmas wreaths ... on their ... fucking house number! They're the ones getting all the deliveries, and they put the wreath over the house number. Or if you don't put a wreath on your house number, you leave all the lights out so I'm driving down the road trying to look at house numbers in the dark. People who don't know what rock salt or shovels are ... yeah, I gotta carry your new computer up your front steps, it's like Sir Edmund Hillary in his conquest of Everest, man. Oh, and by the way, if you're baking 130 dozen Christmas cookies and the skinny-ass UPS guy's on your porch, give him a couple cookies!

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