Friday, August 7, 2015

Spotlight On...Keelin Ryan

Name: Keelin Ryan

Hometown: Boise, Idaho

Education: BA Film Studies, Wesleyan University

Why theater?: My writing partner Sarah and I do mostly written work – we met while serving as editors of Wesleyan University’s humor publication, The Wesleyan Ampersand. As comedy writers, we love theater, because it provides immediate feedback on your writing – you know instantly which jokes are working when you see a piece performed. Additionally, the ability to see our material elevated by an actor’s creativity is an enormous privilege and thrill.  The extremely collaborative nature of theater is icing on the cake.

Tell us about Laugh Track: This fast-paced farce follows the taping of one episode of a beloved, long-running sitcom, and shines a spotlight on the true “characters”—the actors themselves.  First produced at Wesleyan University in 2014, this 80-minute comedy follows five television stars, a show runner, and a cue card guy as they fall in and out of character, lust, love, and alcohol-induced debauchery.

What inspired you to write Laugh Track: My writing partner Sarah and I share a deep love for sitcoms of all shapes and sizes. We especially enjoy picking apart the insanity of television (see our tumblr, which imagines a world in which Samantha Jones from “Sex in the City” teaches AP US History– We thought it would be funny to write an extremely watered down, straight forward 80’s-style sitcom. The backstage drama of the show stands in stark contrast to the family-friendly humor of “He’s A Dad,” and most of the show’s comedy comes from instances in which these two levels merge or are juxtaposed.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love all comedy and am obsessed with musical theater. The best part of writing Laugh Track was when Sarah and I wrote the fictional theme song for the show-within-a-show. Comedy is something I actively engage with on many platforms – non-fiction writing, podcasting, and improv, to name a few. Musical theater I engage with from more of an “awe” perspective. Cabaret is my favorite show and movie.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would have Jenna Lyons, the creative director of J Crew, do our costumes.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Anything Goes a few years ago with Sutton Foster – swoon.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Kate McKinnon in "Burnt Tears and Buttercups: The Keelin Ryan Story".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: It’s a tie between the original Broadway Productions of A Chorus Line and Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Binge-watching 10-year-old YouTube clips of Amy Poehler doing improv.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Living in Idaho, paying $200 per month for an enormous apartment.

What’s up next?: Continuing to make and produce dope comedy with friends and collaborators, hopefully!

For more on Laugh Track, visit