Juggling three bartending gigs with the filming of his online comedy show, Ryan Steele isn't too sure where he's going to be this weekend - when his new television series debuts.
Steele is one of the main cast members on Funny Pit, a new half-hour television program - which features hidden camera and video gags, pranks and bloopers - that's airing on YTV's kids and family channel on Sunday, Nov. 4.
"I don't know where I am going to be for the premiere," Steele said. "I actually have the night off, so maybe I'll be at my parents' place in Langley, waiting to see how much my mom will pay me to be seen with me."
While he now lives in downtown Vancouver, the 34-year-old sketch comedian grew up in his parent's Grade Crescent home, attending Simonds Elementary and H.D. Stafford Secondary - where he first developed his stage skills and wicked sense of humour.
The show's premiere might prompt one of his infrequent returns home, he joked.
"I write, produce, and act in sketch comedy. It's my passion. The difference is I don't tell jokes, I perform sketches that are basically short comedic plays," Steele explained.
And that's part of what he does for this new comedy show.
"My role in the Funny Pit is actually quite large. I am part of the 'Pit', meaning I contribute and add critique to all the YouTube videos we watch. But my main role is as one half of the hidden camera crew with Amy Goodmurphy. We filmed over 10 hidden camera gags all over Vancouver that are spread throughout the first four episodes.
The gags were very Candid Camera-esque and tested my comedy and acting skills immensely. I'm not overly prominent in the first three episodes but the fourth episode is practically the Ryan Steele show as I am featured throughout," he explained.
So how did the Langley boy turn comedian and potential TV celeb?
"I have watched every episode of Saturday Night Live since I was nine years old. I love it and will probably cry when I eventually host it. Kids in the Hall is another huge inspiration in my comedy."
He got started in comedy after he'd been acting for a few years and attended a motivation weekend acting class.
"After expressing my disappointment in acting and my joy in comedy, the teacher [Barbara Deutsch] told me I needed to start a sketch comedy show.
"So I did. On two large wooden boxes [for a stage] at one of the Vancouver bars I worked at. With two other actors - Rhonda Dent, who is also a Langley girl, and Kalyn Miles. It started as a small show with three people in a lounge, and over the years, turned into a huge 10-cast show that performed monthly for more than 200 people a month at a huge Vancouver club. We once travelled to L.A. and did a show there," Steele said.
After five years of performing comedy on the Vancouver scene, a connection paid off for Steele.
A producer for Funny Pit was hunting for talent, and someone familiar with Steele's work pointed him in Steele's direction.
"Luckily [this man] had seen some of my stuff online," said Steele, who explained that he has more than 100 comedy YouTube videos that have garnered more than 2.5 million hits.
His YouTube channel, which was known as the The Ryan Steele Show for four years, but last year was renamed The Ryan and Amy Show, is so popular now it's actually paying dividends. Steele boasted.
"I just got my first cheque from Google for monetization on my YouTube channel and am working to soon be able to live financially off my YouTube channel," said Steele, who shares the online and Funny Pit stages with Goodmurphy.
While Funny Pit - led by comedian Roman Danylo - has only filmed four episodes so far, Steele and the team are waiting to see if they'll get the go ahead for an entire season. He's having a blast with the show.
"My funniest experience has been the hidden camera gags. We did one gag where I was a terrible news reporter trying out to be with a company," he recounted.
"Amy was my boss and we had to have a confrontation in front of a focus group who thought I sucked. I laughed so hard when Amy and I fought in front of the group, but luckily I turned my head and nobody noticed or the gag would have been ruined. I think a little pee came out when I laughed."
Steele said his fingers are crossed, hoping the show takes off and that he can quit at least one of his bar jobs in the coming months.
"As long as the show gets picked up, I would love to do this show for a very long time," Steele said of Funny Pit.
It's a "great" starting point for the Langley boy (who's working career started at McDonald's and the Willowbrook Red Robin), who one day aspires to host the Oscars.
Funny Pit airs at 9: 30 p.m. on Sunday. Viewers are encouraged to send in their own humorous homemade videos and photographs, which can feature children, adults, or animals during their most spontaneous and hilarious moments. Videos can be submitted to www.thefunnypittv.com.
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