From July 20 to 22, multi-talented comedian Dan Ramos presents MontréaL.A, at Montreal Improv Theatre. This brand new show, written and performed by Ramos, is part of OFF-JFL, Just for Laughs Montreal’s cool co-festival.
Mobtreal: Congrats on your JFL debut! What’s it like for you?
Ramos: Are you kidding? I was born and raised in Montreal. Coming back here for the festival is such a dream! Do you know where Mackenzie-King Park is? I was there yesterday, for a Filipino celebration. I ran into some old elementary and high school friends. “You’re still doing comedy?” Then they saw my poster; it looks just like me. (laughs) “Oh wow—that’s YOU! Oh man!”
Mobtreal: Tell us about your journey to this amazing success.
Ramos: I grew up in Cote des Neiges and went to Wager High—that’s where I first got up on stage. We had a fashion show; I was the only short Filipino in the show. (laughs) I started clowning around and the audience loved it! That’s when I knew what I wanted to do… I studied Communications at Dawson, and from there, I moved to Toronto to study Arts and Television at Ryerson. I began taking classes at The Second City and doing all the open mics. After graduating, my first job was Programming Coordinator at Teletoon.
Mobtreal: How did you make the leap to comedy in New York?
Ramos: When I told people that I kind of wanted to leave Toronto for New York, they said, “Don’t go. You don’t have your papers.” I knew what I needed to do. I moved to New York in 2009, and got a job in a coffee shop at 40th and 8th, near many of the comedy clubs. I kept my eyes open, doing as many open mics as I could. I was getting a feel for things, just keeping low and doing the work. Then, I got a job at AOL, working with Marlo Thomas. I was directing, producing, writing and editing her interviews. I met so many famous people; I even got to direct Ron Howard. Marlo’s husband, Phil Donahue, pushed for me to get my Green Card.
Mobtreal: How did you end up in Los Angeles?
Ramos: When my AOL job ended in 2015, I said to myself, “You can’t go back to being a barista.” So I packed up four big boxes and moved to Los Angeles. Ron Josol—he’s a really successful Filipino comic I met when I first got to Toronto—invited me to come and stay with him. This is one week after being laid off by AOL! When you move to a new city, it’s like starting from scratch. I was taking classes with Upright Citizens Brigade—just hanging out with people who are better than me.
Mobtreal: What are the differences between New York and L.A. comedy?
Ramos: In New York, people concentrate more on jokes. In L.A., everyone has their own special style, their own image. You never know who’s going to walk into a show and see you.
Mobtreal: Just for Laughs is the same way.
Ramos: Oh no! Don’t say that—I’m going to get nervous! (laughs)
Mobtreal: Your show is billed as The Dan Ramos Story. Tell us about that.
Ramos: On May 29, I got a phone call. “Pa’s had a stroke—come home now.” In less than 12 hours, I packed up everything and booked a one-way ticket to Montreal. For two weeks straight, I was at the Jewish General Hospital with my dad, every day; my whole family rotated shifts. On June 15, my father passed away. I suddenly realized, “JFL! I have to change everything!” I kept thinking about my last conversation with my dad, when I told him I was doing Just for Laughs. “Are you doing six minutes?” “No Dad, an hour!” “An hour— that’s a lot! How are you going to keep the people laughing for a whole hour?” (laughs) To him, I was Little Dan, his youngest son.
Mobtreal: So, your show captures a pretty emotional journey.
Ramos: Every comic at JFL is going to be funny. I want people to come out of my show and ask themselves, “What was that? Why do I feel so inspired?” I was always a funny little kid. I never cared about money. I want to inspire all the little kids, like the ones I saw in the park yesterday. “I’m from here! If I did it, you can be anything you want to be!”
Mobtreal: Beautiful! After JFL, where else can we look forward to seeing you?
Ramos: In June, I taped an episode of The Gong Show for ABC. Back in January, my agent sent them a tape of a character I play, a Québécois clown who plays the accordion. After lots of back and forth, I ended up as a Filipino leprechaun. (laughs) At first, I was unsure—I don’t know, maybe it was my pride. Then I realized, I’m an actor and I’ll be the best leprechaun I can be. When I got on stage and saw (host) Mike Myers and the judges, I knew it was going to be fine. My girlfriend was cheering in the audience, too.
Mobtreal: You’ve already written and produced videos, commercials and short films, through your own company. What would be your dream project?
Ramos: I just did an interview with CKUT; at the end, Sladgy asked me, “What is your greatest accomplishment?” I got so emotional, I had tears. This show is my dream project, it’s my greatest accomplishment. I think back to Jim Carrey and Ron Jossel and all the influences that have brought me here. These days, I’m surrounded by positive people, like Montreal comics Alon Azimov and Anthony Imperioli, who’ve offered to help me. This show is full circle.
July 20 to 22, 9 p.m.
Tickets: $20.87- $23.48