Should we start with Ryan Hamilton’s face? The charming comedian opens his comedy special, “Happy Face,” with the same question, which has audiences laughing right off the bat. It’s true, the comedian does sport an especially large smile atop a tall, lanky build. He’s a happy giant from Idaho and he’s not afraid to show it and make jokes about it.
Why is this particular comedy special about the tales of a comedian from Idaho in the Big Apple so addicting? Personal friends of mine have watched the special over and over and Hamilton’s fan base shows the same loyalty and cult following by creating shirts and paraphernalia of his jokes and stories. Here are some reasons why Hamilton is an exceptional comedian and why “Happy Face” might be your new favorite comedy special.
That Midwestern … I Mean Western Charm
A large part of the humor in “Happy Face” stems from Hamilton’s mannerisms and facial expressions, making the title a fitting one. While some comedians only use a dry, serious delivery with their content, Hamilton uses a collection of exaggerated outbursts paired with serious deliveries that usually end with him bursting into laughter along with the audience.
In addition to his facial humor, Hamilton’s personality is really what sets him apart from just any comedian. Can you name another comedian you know from Idaho? It’s an unusual birthplace for a comedian in some ways. You probably can think of many famous comedians who are associated with big cities, not rural towns with a microscopic population.
Hamilton draws his humor from his hometown origins, openly explaining how people from New York, especially, have a very limited understanding of geography in America and call anything West before California “The Midwest.” He talks about looking for his culture within Manhattan and not finding a baked potato restaurant to find comfort in and the infamous parade in his hometown that goes down Main Street. He then turns around and comes back a second time to the pleasure of the half of the population not making up the parade that year.
If you thought Idaho meant “boring,” Hamilton will prove you wrong.
Critics would likely call Hamilton a “clean comedian.” And, to many people, this category might be a turn-off. These days, comedians can seem desperate to gain a following and will make any offensive or inappropriate joke to get their voice heard.
In contrast, for Hamilton, the term is his greatest strength. His jokes tell of the adventures of the everyday, mundane events in life that any audience member can relate to.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this feature of Hamilton’s work is his bit about trying to quit his gym membership. He details how the gym suggested he write a letter in order to unsubscribe, which leads Hamilton to perform a letter in a colonial war-general accent that he feels fits the suggested form of communication. Audiences know the frustration of trying to cancel a membership, and it’s drawing on these experiences that make Hamilton’s humor so enjoyable.
What’s more, the humor is a refreshing return in many ways to a kind of classic comedy not performed by many comedians these days. Critics often compare Hamilton to Jerry Seinfeld because of his way of speaking and his content, but this high honor also suggests a return to an older form of comedy that is, nonetheless, refreshing. Hamilton’s comedy is reminiscent of classic comedy bits, such as Ellen DeGeneres’ talking to God on the phone, that marks a return to comedy that simply talks about what’s genuinely funny.
One thing is for certain: Critics and audiences have noticed Hamilton’s choice in content, and they have only come to crave it more.
Even Better in Person
I had the opportunity to see Hamilton perform, and if you thought this comedian was funny on Netflix, seeing him live is a real treat.
Because of his Idaho personality, you might think Hamilton is a sensitive, even nervous comedian in person. The comedian admits himself that he is often surprised by the culture in New York City, where he now lives. However, Hamilton’s show feels like he is just hanging out with the audience, in the best way possible.
Yes, he does recount some of his classic stories and jokes, but in between you see a comedian who draws his energy and humor from embracing awkward moments that he can create with the audience.
For example, the theater that I saw Hamilton perform in was an exceptionally small theater. At one point, Hamilton took his mic away and pointed out, “See? You can all still hear me can’t you?” to which the audience agreed that they could and laughed.
Hamilton continued with the joke saying that when he has a mic, it’s a comedy show for sure, but when he takes the mic away from his face, it just becomes a guy on stage hanging out. Needless to say, the audience was eating up the witticism, which, to Hamilton, seems like he just shared some thoughts out loud that happened to be funny to others.
He’s sweet, he’s unassuming and he just has a lot on his mind that he thinks you might get a kick out of. If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch Ryan Hamilton, check out his special on Netflix or maybe buy a ticket to his show and see for yourself what this comedian is all about.