| Comedy |

Comedian Ryan Hamilton Works Clean, but You Might Not Even Notice

Ryan Hamilton
Ryan Hamilton
Courtesy of Loshak PR
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

There's an unspoken rule for news stories about Ryan Hamilton: You have to mention the fact he’s a clean comic. The topic comes up in every interview with the Last Comic Standing alum and sometimes-Jerry Seinfeld opener. Maybe it’s because audiences have become so accustomed to the raunchy jokes of heavy-hitters such as Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock that they're surprised someone can make them laugh without dropping a single F-bomb or dick joke.

Like those before us, New Times couldn’t help but broach the topic with Hamilton, who's set to perform Saturday, January 19, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. The 43-year-old didn’t seem to mind. He understands it’s one of the things that makes him unique.

“I’ve accepted it’s a part of who I am,” Hamilton says over the phone. “There are much worse things to be called.”

Whatever those things are, Hamilton has probably said some of them about himself. Much of his humor is self-deprecating. The title of his 2017 Netflix special, Happy Face, is a reference to his chipper-looking mug. “I think I could sell ice cream in the '50s,” he joked in the special.

Some might be turned off by the idea of a clean comic, but Hamilton — named one of Rolling Stone’s "Five Comics to Watch in 2012," along with Tiffany Haddish — believes the label has been good for his career. He thinks he was able to land more gigs because of his rep. And, as Drew Carey tweeted of Hamilton: “This guy is incredibly funny. And he works super clean. But you’ll be laughing so hard you won’t even notice.”

“I think he was saying [working clean] adds a level of difficulty,” Hamilton says. “If you are completely clean, there is a little handicap you’re giving yourself. But for me, it’s the only way I can do it. I was flattered Drew said that. Most comedians love and respect clean comedians.”

Count Amy Schumer — whom nobody would confuse for a clean comic — among his admirers. Hamilton says they’ve been pals since they did Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham together in 2007. Schumer told him after his set that he should move to New York and get a place with her despite the fact they didn’t know each other. Hamilton would later appear in "The Nurses" sketch on Inside Amy Schumer and could have landed more work on the Comedy Central series but the roles weren’t, uh, on-brand for him.

“Her comedy is in a little different place than mine,” Hamilton says. “Sometimes she’ll give me small stuff I can’t do. I think she enjoys giving me opportunities and forcing me to make decisions and squirm whether to do it or not.”

They never became roomies, but Hamilton believes it would have been a “blast” had they moved in together, even if they are an odd pairing. She’s from New York; he’s from a small town in Idaho. Schumer, in her act, makes herself out to be a lush; Hamilton doesn’t drink at all and never has.

His sobriety comes up in his Netflix special, where he jokes that his friends don’t want to go drinking with him because he’ll remember every detail about the night: They “don’t want to take a little black box” with them “on this disaster.” Asked if he prefers a liquored-up crowd at his shows, as some comics do, Hamilton says he could do without it. “I have long jokes that require attention. I’ll lose people who are too drunk,” he says. “My crowd is normally pretty good.”

Sometimes a boozy audience is inevitable, like when he performs on New Year’s Eve. Hamilton works on the holiday nearly every year (he rang in 2019 in West Chester, Ohio), but he finds the experience to be kind of strange — and not because he’s one of the few sober people in the room.

“Normally, you have to be up there and do a countdown. Everyone finds somebody they love while you stand up there all alone,” Hamilton says. “It’s an odd moment in your life.”

Ryan Hamilton. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 19, at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-462-0222; browardcenter.org. Tickets cost $28 to $38 via ticketmaster.com.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.