The Rialto Theatre brings us a comedy trifecta next week. Top touring comics are passing through on Friday, Saturday and Monday. Roll the dice or see them all.
On Friday, Oct. 5, Trey Kennedy brings the shy style many millions of fans love from his YouTube and TikTok videos, and especially his podcast, “Correct Opinions with Trey Kennedy,” a top 100 hit in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. He’s won fame for his video and TV series’ riffs on life in middle school.
Colin Quinn holds forth on Saturday, Oct. 6. Comedy fans remember him for his five-year stint on “Saturday Night Live” and for holding down the news parody segment of “Weekend Update.”
On Monday, we’ll enjoy the return of Ryan Hamilton. “I’m really looking forward to getting back. I had a great time in Tucson last time,” he said.
Hamilton is a relatively soft-spoken and thoughtful Idaho native, often mistaken for a Midwesterner in his New York City hometown. “There’s New York City and Los Angeles,” he joked. “Everything in between is ‘the Midwest.’” That’s why he bypassed LA and moved to NYC for a comedy career less intuitive and more magical than we might imagine. It was as if a bolt out of the blue struck him when Amy Pohler fell in love with his comedy during a happenstance appearance on Comedy Central. She insisted he move to New York. It was a while before he took her up on it, and by that time, he’d already been a full-time comedian for almost six years.
Hamilton’s comedy career had an uncommon launch. When he was 14, he was inspired to ask a rural Idaho newspaper to let him write a comedy column. Long a fan of stand-up comedy — he used to make his family watch it on the television — he became obsessed with comedy writing, particularly that of columnist Dave Barry.
“I’m from a very small town,” he said. “There were no outlets for me, not even acting or drama or anything even close to related.”
He performed in his high school musical, he said, but his role was limited. “I was not a singer,” he said. “I took guitar lessons, but I just didn’t feel like I had that musical ability.”
Stage fright had never been a problem, though. “I wasn’t loud or a class clown,” he said, “but I liked performing, and I liked being in front of people. I didn’t have a lot of fear about it, for some reason.”
Hamilton’s comedy column was such a hit that a newspaper in a nearby county asked if they could run it, too. But when he moved to Salt Lake City for college, he dove right into what there was of a comedy scene pre-“Dry Bar Comedy.” “I was really always interested in stand-up comedy first,” he said.
“I did comedy full-time earlier than I should. I leaped in, because I was jobless.”
He had a job after college, but when he lost it, he decided to try comedy for a year and “see what happens.” He had worked through college and had little debt, so what he spent on the road, he considered “tuition.”
“I took a job as a parking valet, and I started doing these road gigs, one-nighters in bars, driving six, eight hours for $100 to open for whoever,” he said. “That put a lot of pressure on me to really work creatively and produce something for a year.
“My first TV opportunity happened to be in New York. I’d never been to New York in my life. I’d hardly ever even been east. And I did this little set for Comedy Central on a show called ‘Live at Gotham.’ That was also Amy Schumer’s first television appearance.
“They’d had a cancellation. I was first on this show, and I was overwhelmed. As I came off stage, Amy came up to me. I had never met her, nor did anybody know who she was.
“And she said, ‘I’m Amy, and you’re going to move here, and we’re going to get a place together.’ It was just like that.
“She never became my roommate, but we both did ‘Last Comic Standing’ a couple months later and became friends. And I just thought, ‘Let’s try New York.’ “
Hamilton said he believed New York would be a better place than LA to develop as a stand-up comedian, because he felt that the competition there was at a higher level. The difference, he said, is focus.
“You’re following people who are pushing you,” he said, adding that a lot of LA comedians may be more interested in acting or writing a show. “In New York, I feel like there is something about just the vibe around people who’ve made stand-up more of a priority.”
For those who love his Netflix special, Hamilton promises all new material and lots of it. He said he’s been doing shows as long as 90 minutes and added, in his low-key way, “They’ve been well-received.”
The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street, prices start at $30, 7 p.m., rialtotheatre.com
IT’S A ‘KEEP TUCSON SKETCHY’ MONTH
Tucson’s answer to “Saturday Night Live” is back on Saturday, Sept. 30, with a brand-new sketch, video and variety show, and a cast and crew of dozens. This quarterly show usually sells out, but tickets may still be available.
Unscrewed Theater, 4500 E. Speedway Boulevard, Suite 39, 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at unscrewedtheater.org
OTHER SHOWS THIS WEEK
Hotel McCoy, 720 W. Silverlake Road, hotelmccoy.com, 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, free, clean comic Chris Haughton hosts, Rory Monserat headlines, with Rich Gary and Maddie Shuman
Laffs Comedy Caffe, 2900 E. Broadway Boulevard, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, laffstucson.com, $15, $20 preferred seating, Warren B. Hall
The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress Street, 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, screeningroomdowntown.com, tickets start at $20. Jessie Jetski Johnson, comedy podcaster and LA Comedy Store regular
Tucson Improv Movement/TIM Comedy Theatre, 414 E. Ninth Street, tucsonimprov.com, $7 each show, $10 for both shows, same night, free jam. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, “Harold Eta” and “STFU”; 6:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, Improv Jam; 7:30 p.m., “The Soapbox”; 9 p.m., Stand Up Showcase; 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept.30, 3V3 Finale; 9 p.m., “Big Wet Throbbing Queer Comedy Show”
Unscrewed Theater, 4500 E. Speedway Boulevard, unscrewedtheatre.org, $8, live or remote, $5 kids. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, Family-Friendly Improv; 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, Improv Basics Student Showcase; 7:30 p.m., Family Friendly Improv; 9:30 p.m., Keep Tucson Sketchy (KTS) with host Peter Leon.