Comedy Interview: Ryan Belleville vs. squirrels

By Kyle Francis

Not everything has to end with me taking a shit on a squirrel,” says Ryan Belleville, a young Canadian comedian, actor and writer imparting his philosophy of comedy and disappointing readers everywhere. “I believe in strong imagery, but I don’t believe everything has to be scatological.”

Belleville lost his comedic virginity on the Loose Moose stage in Calgary at the young age of 15, when he started volunteering with the improv troupe. Going on to garner more success than something only moderately successful, Belleville continues to work his comedic mojo all over Canada and the United States. After countless tours–including some with the Just for Laughs comedy festival–­a feature-length MTV movie and several notable television guest appearances, Belleville is coming back to Calgary to revisit his hometown and improv roots, as well as show off a new stand-up routine.

“There’s a definite edginess to my comedy; it’s not for old people,” says Belleville, sniggering at the prudish senior citizens of the world. “I think better comedians are funny people, but the ones that stay popular are also funny writers. You’ve got to be prolific enough to churn out enough material about your life or your opinion or your point of view. That’s kind of what comedy is. You’re stating your opinion or your take on the world, and the punch line is that universally funny thing that people can get behind.”

Critics of stand up comedy may be quick to dismiss Belleville’s point of view or lump it in with those of other comedians. In the congested profession, it’s easy to group comedians together according to their particular brand of humour. Belleville insists this attitude is folly.

“I think the person I’m most like is me,” glows Belleville, undoubtedly thinking of snowflakes and how they’re all beautiful and unique. “I do love Patton Oswalt, though. Patton is a good example of a comedian who is just himself. He’s just a total nerd who loves hyperbole. And midgets. He’s got a real edge to his act.”

Like Oswalt, Belleville promises a certain enthusiastic irreverence in his act combined with an ‘off the cuff’ style born of years on an improv stage. Despite the respect gained for good writing from working in film so often, Belleville hasn’t lost his appreciation for a good ol’ fashioned tangential rant.

“It’s always great to see a comedian go off on a tangent,” says Belleville. “You don’t get that with some comedians. Take Bill Maher for example. He’s a great comedian, but he basically just reads a 100-page comedic essay. He’s very married to the material.”

As a comedian who prides himself on distinctive acts every time you see him, the Loose Moose stage–noted for its anything goes attitude–is the perfect venue to return to Calgary in. Belleville’s performance promises to be a glorious orgy of irreverence, sly wit and maybe, just maybe, squirrels.

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