The State of Tampa Bay Comedy: Kyle Ruse
I met Kyle Ruse last year when a friend of mind suggested I have him on the podcast. I knew of him and the high praise that other comic friends had said about him. It usually started with, “Ruse is fucking hilarious” and went on into stories about partying with him after shows. I’ve had the experience a few times myself getting to know him over the last year- I always wake up with a pounding headache and a “I can’t do that again for a while” inner dialogue. I’ll be back though…just not for a while. It speaks to his comedy, I think. It’s bad for you, but you won’t stay away for long.
I don’t mean his jokes are bad, the opposite. Often, his subjects could be could be labeled as a taboo- whether it’s mentions of girls getting fucked by their dads or chastising white Wigger’s for saying nigga so freely- not for the word itself but because it’s grammatically incorrect. I guess it’s an acquired taste. He’s an assuming figure on stage. His cadence is booming and it makes you listen to what he has to say. Often at open-mics comics have to fight to keep a crowd. Kyle has learned the technique of not relying on the microphone and to still project…or yell into the mic and still manages not to make the PA squeak while doing so. He is in control at all times and doesn’t hold back. The last taboo in comedy is attacking the audience. At mics, ill-behaved patrons are checked quick by an off-hand remark usually involving their appearance. “You guys are a great couple…neither of you will ever have the opportunity to cheat on each other,” he bellows to a loud couple sitting at the corner of the stage.
Most comics try not to instigate a crowd, Kyle doesn’t care either way. He welcomes a verbal scrap if you’re brave enough to take him on…most don’t. This style has caught the eyes of some mainstream performers. He opened for J.T. Habersaat earlier this year in St. Pete and took a trip to Daytona Beach to open for The Unbookables. Doug Stanhope was also in the audience that night to visit his Comedy Compadres. He liked Kyle’s set so much that he invited him to stop by his highly downloaded podcast the next day. These are little victories, sure but they add up over time. He makes trips to North Carolina and Maine at least a few times a year to perform comedy where he’s earned a small following. He also tattoo’s for a living and will do that during the day while waiting to perform at night.
Tattooing is the perfect job for someone in his position pursuing his stand-up dream. Being able to work your own schedule, on your own time is a huge advantage. Being able to make money on your downtime is truly a blessing as these night time stand-up gigs are notoriously not well paid. Tattooing isn’t a Plan B though. Kyle isn’t an aspiring full time stand-up comedian. He’s a tattoo artist who happens to be really funny and can do stand-up. These are who he is, not what he is.
Kyle’s humbleness is something I also like about him. Many of the comics around Tampa get to a certain amount of success and then stop coming to open mics. Not Kyle, if he’s able he will stop in after doing a show at one of the local clubs and do some time. Not only will he do some time but he stays and hangs out- that’s important to help build a community. The people who are just starting out benefit from having someone like Kyle around to get advice from and get tags on jokes. He’s the only working comic I’ve seen take the time to do this on a regular basis but I guess it helps that Kyle likes to drink and there is plenty of alcohol in places where open mics are. Every time I see him out, he has some new, cool opportunity to slur to me about. He’s up for the Best Stand Up Comic in Tampa Bay from the Creative Loafing (which he has promised to burn if he wins) and may even have a pilot in the works. In the mean time he is focusing on his monthly Roast Battle “Laugh & Roll” at FUBAR in St. Pete the last Wednesday of every month and is looking into revamping his “Funny Pricks” YouTube show into a podcast, interviewing other tattoo artists for #HMBradio. We may be waiting a while because of his busy schedule, but I’m sure it will be worth the wait.
Follow Kyle on Twitter at @Kyle_Ruse .