Many standup comedians aspire to that vaunted everyman shtick. Few truly attain it. And even fewer pull it off while still offering shrewd insight into our daily struggles to get by. Ryan Sickler, co-host of comedy podcast The CrabFeast, does it with bawdy bits about homelessness and the likelihood of being rescued by a black lifeguard, delivered as if he's casually unloosing a joke on a street corner.
Sickler, along with CrabFeast co-host Jay Larson and local comic Zak Toscani, will hit the Hollywood Theatre on Friday as part of the comedy showcase Funny Over Everything. The Baltimore native talked to WW about living in a car and watching a trust-funder run wild in L.A.
WW: The CrabFeast's focus is comedic, long-form storytelling. Do explicit stories—your rendezvous with a married woman, for example—get you in trouble with your fiancee?
Ryan Sickler: The story about the married woman, that stuff doesn't get me in trouble. I don't know if she's heard that one yet, though. I'm having a little girl, and when she's old enough to listen to the damn podcast, that might get me into trouble. My fiancee knows a lot of things happened before we met.
You tell jokes about financial insecurity and the prospect of living in a car. Did working awful jobs ever push it that far?
I do talk about growing up lower middle class. For a while, I was raised by a single dad—he had three boys. I joked that anything [that cost] over a dollar was automatically $10 to a single dad. But I did live in a car for a while—a 1990 Civic. I was thrown out of a house by a relative who was, frankly, a real piece of shit. For a few weeks I stayed in my car, until my grandmother's sister found out. Then my aunt made me come live with her, but I was only there for a couple months. During all that, I still went to college, worked at UPS and just made it happen. I did work at a hotel when I first got to L.A., though, and that was kind of eye-opening—talk about going from Baltimore to Beverly Hills.
What did you do at the hotel?
I worked the front desk and was the concierge. Before I got there, I didn't even know what a concierge was—I didn't even know what the word meant, 'cause I never stayed at a place like that. I'd read Zagat guides and shit like that. I didn't know what I was talking about. I'd try to tell guests about restaurants, and this one guy was like, "Are you reading this to me right now?" I was like, "Nah, man."
Did you see any wild stuff happen?
We had one guy who was a real trust-fund baby. He'd come in and get prostitutes every night. He was probably in his mid-20s. He was one of the LAPD's Most Annoying People. He would rent mansions up in the hills and would throw these sex parties and invited us one night. We couldn't participate, but it was an Eyes Wide Shut thing. He would go around, room to room—and there'd be a huge bouncer with a little red velvet rope, and there'd be a guy and a girl having sex. In the next room, two girls having sex. Next room: a guy and two girls. Next room: orgy. It was like this live sex show, a crazy-ass party in the hills. It's still one of the greatest things I've seen in my life.
SEE IT: Ryan Sickler appears with Jay Larson and Zak Toscani at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-4215. 9 pm Friday, Aug. 29. $15-$20.