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Ryan Hamilton: Happy face intact at Comix gig

March 19, 2019

With red hair, a toothy grin like Howdy Doody and a voice like his hero Jerry Seinfeld, Ryan Hamilton likes to start his comedy routines with something like:

“I am well aware that I look just ecstatic... constantly,” he says on a TV visit to “Conan.” “And I don’t feel like this, I really don’t. I feel OK ... and I look crazy happy.”

Often his audience will look crazy happy, too, as you’ll see if you make it to his one of his four shows at the Comix comedy club at Mohegan Sun from Thursday through Saturday, March 28-20. He played Comix once before, to a sold-out show.

In a phone chat recently — during a week when he was proud to say he was doing a week of shows with Seinfeld at the Beacon Theater in New York — Hamilton said a comic doesn’t need a sitcom these days to be popular; he’s just happy to sell out a room. Also: Seinfeld is “such a master and I watch every show and I learn so much.”

Hamilton, 43, works even cleaner than Seinfeld, which is somewhat remarkable in the comic landscape but less so when you learn he’s from Idaho (just west of Yellowstone), went to Brigham Young University and doesn’t drink. His early comedy inspiration, in fact, was from a newspaper column that led him to major in journalism and public relations.

“I wanted to be a humor columnist; I wanted to be Dave Barry when I was young,” he said, adding he also loved The Far Side cartoon. “So I had a little column in the county newspaper, and that got me into writing... and I worked for a while in PR.”

He soon found himself doing standup comedy in Salt Lake City: “There weren’t a lot of comedians when I started, so I was getting a lot of stage time early on. He called the city “a lot more diverse than people realize.”

In his Netflix special “Happy Face,” Hamilton repeatedly needles the residents of his home base these days, New York City, with his observational humor — which is also funny for Connecticut folks who must deal with New York traffic, media and its personalities next-door to us.

“To be honest, it gave me so much joy to do those jokes in New York City,” he said. “There was a conversation for awhile about doing (the special) someplace else and I really put my foot down and said, ‘I want this is to be shot in New York’ for that reason. Because I had a lot of jokes about me being in New York... It’s OK to do those jokes as long as you’re doing them for New Yorkers.”

Hamilton laughs when we note that it doesn’t even seem he took a sip of water in the entire hour of the late-2017 Nexflix show.

“It was my first hour special... and I had been working on the material a long time,” he said of the longtime goal of having an hour special. “So by the time I got it (a TV deal), I think it was an unleashing thing... like ’OK, here it is, there you go.”

As for working clean, Hamilton said, “The comedians that I was always drawn to do that type of comedy. I like the challenge of making an audience laugh creatively.”

Hamilton may have hit our radar recently, but he’s been at it a long time and been featured on “The Late Show,” “Last Comic Standing” and even a skit on Amy Shumer’s show.

“When I started, social media didn’t really exist... and then that became a great way for comedians to grow their audience and be discovered; it was like an alternative path to just doing late-night television, which is what we had,” he said. “...As a comedian, my approach is to just kind of put my head down and work and create, and let the chips fall where they may.”

jamarante@nhregister.com; @Joeammo on Twitter.