Comedian Ryan McMahon and his alter ego Clarence Two Toes
Ryan McMahon is always hustling. And when being a comedian is your only line of work, the hustle to secure more work for yourself never stops.
Ryan's latest venture is Red Man Laughing. It is a podcast Ryan uses to argue with himself about "whatever is on his mind."
He took the time to answer some SCENE questions about what it's like to work for himself, why he delivers his comedy via the internet, and his alter ego Clarence Two Toes.
You're always coming up with new projects why is that?
The new projects keep me moving forward. And really when it comes right down to it I'm a content junky. It keeps me sharp and keeps me working on new material.
Sometimes I'll hit on something through different mediums and I'll be able to use it in my live show. My live show is starting to move from a traditional standup show to a more "Alternative Comedy thing" with a multimedia slant that features video, powerpoint, music, found comedy, characters . It's a great challenge - I want to be original, not just Aboriginal (see what I did there?).
What is the new podcast Red Man Laughing about?
It's my version of a late night, vaudeville inspired, radio show I guess. It starts with a rant on a thing that's on my mind, then there are characters, sketches and live comedy clips from shows I've done. I feature a musical guest each week and give away a few of their tracks online.
In a few weeks the podcast will really start to take shape when I add sit down chats with awesome people from around Indian Country. The chats will be honest, unedited and candid - unlike the usual sound bits that we get from most media.
Why do you deliver your comedy online?
I was told once that, "traditionally, we are a contemporary Peoples." We've always had to change and adapt to our environments as Native Peoples. So I am. Everyone is online now. People in northern Manitoba can get my comedy via youtube or iTunes and I think it's great. People as far away as Europe and Australia follow my stuff. I have soldiers serving in the US and Canadian Armed Forces that tell me my stuff is their connection to their homelands because my comedy reminds them of home. This is the greatest compliment there is.
There's an idea out there that I shouldn't be giving my stuff away for free but I see my online comedy stuff more as a business card in a sense.
What's the most difficult thing about being a one-man show?
Easily, the hardest thing is balancing the business and the art. It's hard to write material when I'm returning phone calls, emails and trying to figure out if my connecting flights are going to work for me or not.
Right now, there just isn't a management/booking company that can help me. I've contacted some of the major players out there in the management industry and I haven't received as much as a, "No thank you..." back from them. I'd love to be able to just focus on my art - but until that day comes, I need to keep moving forward and focus on what I can do for myself.
How did you create Clarence TwoToes?
Clarence Two Toes was a character I created back in 2008 when I was a stay-at-home dad. I was going crazy not being able to be onstage and tour like I had been so I started my first podcast, The Clarence Two Toes Radio Show.
People loved the irreverent nature of the character and I think people really connect with Clarence because he's a real person - he's outspoken yet soft spoken, he's a loser and a winner, he's faulted and he doesn't apologize for those faults, and things always seem to work out for him in the end, whether that end result was the anticipated result or not.
Does Clarence sometimes come out when you're just trying to be yourself?
Well, I guess Clarence IS me. So, yes, he comes out all the time. It gets confusing - my own family calls me Clarence now. People don't want pictures or autographs from Ryan - they do want them from Clarence though. It's cool and weird and creepy and creepy.