Ryan Mold - Holding the Record

July 5, 2021

Photo Credit

Emma Collins Photography


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez

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 Mon­tréal 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.

Fol­low Ryan

Ryan can be seen and heard:

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