Ryan Mold - Holding the Record

July 5, 2021

Photo Credit

Emma Collins Photography

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Valerie Lopez

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2021 Summer Vacation Series

Destination - Banbury, England

The world is in the midst of a host of debuts, including the blinding sight of faces that haven’t seen true sunlight for many months, poking out of doors and taking the cautious first steps back into the great outside.
It’s only fitting that we debut something of our own for the podcast: the 2021 Summer Vacation Series. While we’re in no way on vacation, the theme speaks more to that most summer-y of concepts, traveling to new places near and far. Many of our guests are local to Austin, but during the pandemic we had the honor of “hosting” comics from around the world on our Isolation Comedy series, and the Vacation Series is our way of bringing them back for the full Comedy Wham interview treatment.

One of the coolest parts about getting to talk to friends from around the world is the cultural lessons. Our conversation with Ryan Mold includes quite a few. Everything from "what is a funnel cake?", to "what is a compere?" (more on that in a bit). Lucky for our friends on both sides of the Atlantic, it's just a difference in terminology, so I'm personally heartened that were I to visit England, I'd simply need to request a doughnut rather than a funnel cake. At least I think that's what Mold said, I might have drifted off thinking about that delicious doughy fried treat especially since this is, in a nod to amusing timing, our 4th of July Independence Day episode.

Mold (along with our other international guests on the Comedy Wham Isolation Comedy shows) holds an esteemed position among our guest comics for their willingness to be awake at odd hours just to perform on our show. Mold did it several times because he is so witty we couldn't wait to bring him back repeatedly. Out of respect, we put him on first on the lineups so he could do his set at 2am local Banbury time, then go back to sleep.

Mold's start as a standup comic is familiar to many - an interest in the art form (we're in England now, we're definitely going to fancy this up), a pint (maybe 2) of ale, and he hit the stage and never turned back. We found a description of Mold that fits quite nicely "engaging observational comedian with a hint of aggravation and sarcasm" - what's not to love? The interesting twist in Mold's comedy journey is that he is the owner of 2 bars wedged between Birmingham and London. These locations for Mold are convenient as a standup since both have generous offerings of stage time. And as you might imagine with large comedy scenes in both cities, all sorts of comedy is available for audiences. And it's possible to find something for different tastes, Mold says, "Comedy is different for different people." It's a matter of finding what suits you.

Comedy is different for different people
Ryan Mold

As owner of a bar that hosts comedy shows, Mold is keenly aware of the efforts needed to promote shows, a nod to a common thread no matter the address of the comedy show. One such big event, occurred in 2018 when Mold's Atic Banbury achieved Guinness World Record status by holding a 96-hour non-stop standup comedy show (besting the previous record held by a Nashville venue for its 80-hour show). While Mold does enjoy the role of comedy producer at his venues, he is careful to not cross a line at his own venues. He doesn't book himself at his venues because it's too stressful.

Speaking of stressful, imagine owning 2 bars, being a standup comic, and having the entire performance structure shut down? The global Covid shutdown did hit Mold hard, but he admitted that he enjoyed performing online. He considers himself a theatrical performer who enjoys moving around, and he managed to make that work for him during online shows. Certainly we found him immensely entertaining when he did our show. We hope that one day he'll be able to travel to the US so that we can watch him in person.

Much of the conversation centered on observations of differences or commonalities between American and British comedy. Did you know that a compere is the common terminology in Britain for what we in the US call a host of a show? I didn't! Did you know that reviews of comedy shows in Britain aren't the norm? I didn't (having researched a handful of British comics and inevitably stumbling upon show reviews)! Did you know that despite the proximity to Edinburgh Festival Fringe, comics in England don't view the festival as the Holy Grail (see what I did there?) of comedy festivals (akin to US comics viewing JFL Montreal as the comparable Holy Grail)? I didn't! You too can learn a lot by listening to comics from across the globe!

As the world emerges from the shutdown, Mold and I discussed the comedy renaissance that we've been seeing, particularly here in Austin, with a wide breadth of innovation on display by show producers. Mold has a strong opinion about going too far with innovation. "I'm all for innovative stuff. I think that's fine. But just don't waste people's time." We agree that innovation is fine as long as the core objective is still to make audiences laugh.

I'm all for innovative stuff. I think that's fine. But just don't waste people's time.
Ryan Mold

While I greatly enjoyed chatting with Mold to learn about the unique nature of British comedy, my hope one day is that our paths will cross in person. Not just so we can hear that protypical British accent, but also so that we can share laughs. And hopefully a funnel cake.

Want to know more about comedy in Banbury, England (south of London)?

Ryan's recommendations for comics to check out from England include: Harry Hill, Spencer Jones, Michael McIntyre, Mo Millegan, James A. Custer, Scott Bennett, Andrew Bird, Ben Norris, Jeff Innocent, Mike Gunn, Marcel Luconte. If you're in the greater London area, check out the comedy scene where you'll watch comperes in action and where very inventive and creative shows abound.

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Ryan can be seen and heard:

  • Shooting the Breeze Podcast
  • At his bar ATIC in Oxfordshire and Banbury
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Ryan Mold