Luke Ryan is a Melbourne-based writer, comedian and man about town. His comic memoir A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Chemo is out now.
How did you end up publishing a comedic memoir?
I’d love to pretend that I was a talent of such undeniable standing that my words simply had to be published. But the truth is I just had the good fortune to sustain a vast misfortune – two rare cancers by the age of 22 – and in the world of comic memoir, misery makes your life a whole lot easier.
Writers are always told to ‘write what they know’. Does the same apply for comedy?
It’s a good place to start, but an ability step outside yourself is also pretty crucial. There’s a fascinating interplay between truth, fact and comedy that sits at the heart of comic memoir writing. You’re working with true things, but the meat, the details that will give your comedy flight, will almost all be embellished from holes in your memory. So the question is: how much fiction are you comfortable with?
What is one key tip you can give writers on finding their comedic voice?
They often say that in comedy, timing is everything. The same is very much true of comedic writing. Your choice of words, their placement in the sentence, they way you use punctuation to give a joke a certain cadence – these are the nuts and bolts on which comedy lives and dies. Pay attention to this and the rest will fall in place behind it.
Also, being funny helps.
Join Luke for his course From Punchline to Pathos: Writing Comedy on Saturday 11 November, 10am-4pm, at the Centre.