RICHARD RYDER as part of the WE'RE FUNNY THAT WAY gala at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander), Wednesday (April 25), 7:30 pm, and with Darcy Michael as part of the fest, April 28, 7:30pm. Pwyc-$250. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNNNN
At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds , you can't miss Richard Ryder. You could call him the big bear of the local comedy circuit.
"I've always said the word 'bear' is gay for 'let themselves go,'" he laughs, and then launches into an anecdote comparing dearly departed T.O. leather bar the Toolbox to some northern Ontario roadside dive.
"You go up north and look at the guys and think, 'Dude, you'd be a sweet ride in Toronto. '"
Some people don't know what to make of his look - at first.
"Most people assume I'm going to be one of those guys from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour," he says, growling out a redneck impression. "And after my set, if they're surprised I'm gay, I think, 'What are you, blind and deaf?'"
There'll be no doubts about his orientation Wednesday as he joins the all-star homo lineup of the We're Funny That Way gala fundraiser and then later in the week in a co-feature spot.
"Queer audiences are in some ways tougher," says Ryder. "For a straight crowd I can make fun of the fact that I'm gay and they're not. You have to be a little more direct and on top of what you're talking about for a gay audience. The L Word helps."
It's been a good year for Ryder.
Last month he made it to the second round of the Last Comic Standing auditions in Montreal.
"I see how they edit these shows," he laughs. "I may watch the show and end up looking like Richard from the first Survivor. 'Kill him!'"
And if you tune into the new queer radio station, 103.9 Proud FM, you'll hear his voice reading the traffic, doing voice-overs and participating in the Chicks Vs. Dicks panel on WFTW producer/host Maggie Cassella's twice-weekly show.
A few years ago, Ryder decided to give up everything else and focus on solo stand-up. He gave up his job doing wardrobe in film, left his agent and recently gave up two gigs producing comedy nights, which were interfering with his performing.
The determination's paid off. Many of his stand-up colleagues tell him his act is sharper than it's been before.
"They don't have to say that," says Ryder. "You're in a room writing, and then you go onstage alone. It's a very insular existence."