Katherine Ryan on comedian nerves, rituals and intimate pre-show conversations as she goes behind the scenes of a new series

Any comedy lover is bound to wonder what goes on behind the scenes at stand-up shows. What are comedians talking about? Are they still as bold and confident as ever? And are they so funny in real life?

In Amazon Prime Video’s new Backstage With Katherine Ryan series, fans take a peek behind the curtain of live shows at London’s Roundhouse to see what the world of comedy is really like.

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Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan, 38, has lived and worked in the UK for nearly 15 years.

Katherine Ryan looks behind the curtain on live shows in the comedy world. Image: PA Photo/Waiting/Amazon Prime Video UK

Her career began at Toronto comedy club Yuk Yuk’s, where she performed after working shifts at the Hooters next door, and she’s since had two Netflix stand-up specials, created and performed in her own Netflix series The Duchess, has appeared on a number of comedy programs including 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Taskmaster and has toured the country with her live shows.

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“I think there has to be an element of trust so that everyone can deliver their best authentic truth,” she says, “and I think everyone agreed that I was the person with the intuitive and curious nature and the investigative personality to harbor something like this.”

Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Sue Perkins, Russell Kane, Sarah Millican, Nish Kumar and Seann Walsh are among those appearing at Roundhouse concerts for the series, providing plenty of heartwarming and hilarious behind-the-scenes moments.

The series takes viewers behind the scenes with comedians. Picture: PA Photo/Waiting/Amazon Prime Video UK

But what exactly can comedy fans expect to find out about their favorite movies?

“Comedians don’t gossip, and that’s what I like best about my community,” says Ryan.

“We get right into ‘how did your dad die?’. We talk about big topics right away, and I love that.

“I get intimacy from hearing people’s deepest, darkest secrets, or very intimate stories about having a colon or being a late virgin.

“Comedians are a bit strange, and not always the way people think.

“We’re diving just beyond small talk, and I’m so excited for an audience to see this.”

Viewers are also privy to touching conversations between stars, a glimpse of how the comics work together to find the jokes’ punchline, and a glimpse of the various pre-show rituals they engage in. .

While some of the comedians reveal they are getting very nervous, almost dreading the moment they crack their first joke and anxiously hoping for that first wave of laughter from the audience, Ryan, who performs in Hull and York later in the year, says she’s actually “unable to feel anxious or nervous.”

“Maybe I have some type of endocrine imbalance where I don’t have enough cortisol or something!” she is joking.

“I don’t have any pre-show rituals. I’ve seen jumping jacks, I’ve seen certain socks that people wear, sort of athletic rituals. I do not know.

“I just do my makeup in the dressing room, chat with my tour manager – I can have any conversation, stop that conversation and get on stage.”

When it comes to the riders – the food, drink and treats requested backstage – Ryan is pretty low key too.

She says that on Backstage With Katherine Ryan “we could have take-out at any restaurant”, and most guests went for “fried chicken or a Pret from the end of the road”.

“Jimmy definitely asked for Nobu,” she reveals.

“And they got it for him!” But he wasn’t a diva about it, he just loves Nobu.

“My tour runner is so dark. I just have water, tea and coffee. I don’t think it’s the glamor that people imagine.

Instead, Ryan says she’s saving that glamor for the stage.

She became known for her glitzy costumes – a different one for each tour – because she thinks “you have to dress up, because it’s an honor and it’s a great privilege to have people who come to see you on purpose”.

“I did it on purpose all along, because actresses were told not to accentuate anything feminine that might be distracting,” she says.

“They said boys wouldn’t take you seriously and women would hate you. Wear a hoodie, wear jeans.

“And then you see the men who get the big jobs, they’re wearing suits because they’re on TV, and you think, ‘How are we supposed to do this with a hoodie and jeans?’

“So very early in my career, I started dressing for the job I wanted, not the job I had.

“I see everyone getting dressed now. I won’t say I started, but Joan Rivers got the ball rolling – pass me the ball!

Between performances on the program, Ryan ushers in the next act with an affectionate but sometimes finicky roast, which she says is made possible by the close relationships and consent she has established with her fellow comedians.

She’s no stranger to a comedy roast: She’s appeared on Comedy Central’s series Roast Battle for Four and been an active participant in the genre throughout her career, but it’s a category of comedy that, says- it is often misunderstood.

“Roast comedy is such a show of consent,” says Ryan.

“But in a roast scenario, it’s so wonderful because it’s liberating: everyone’s in on the joke, everyone wants to do it.

“I think there’s a lot of liberation and safety in being able to laugh at yourself, because you’re not being bullied, it’s coming from an inclusive place.

“And you’ll see on the show that I’m not as hard on people who I think won’t like it.”

Ryan says she is thrilled for audiences to see the other side of comedy and learn more about the UK’s thriving comedy scene community.

“The comedians who came, they weren’t worried about saying something that they wouldn’t want an audience to see,” she explains.

“I was really happy to show the public this part of the actors.

“Everyone says, ‘Is it funny behind the scenes?’ – I think they are so funny in their real life, but in such a different way.

Backstage With Katherine Ryan is on Amazon Prime Video from Thursday, June 9.

Ryan will visit the Bonus Arena in Hull on Friday September 30 with his live show Missus. She will also be at the York Barbican on September 29.