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Comedy: Make 'em laugh

Published in the Asbury Park Press 11/03/04

Long Branch comedian aids troops


There's nothing funny about figure skating -- with the exception of Nancy Ryan. The Long Branch resident turned to stand-up comedy in 1992 after skating competitively since childhood.

The benefit
8 p.m. today
The Stress Factory
90 Church St., New Brunswick
(732) 545-HAHA (4242)

Ryan proves there is more to professional ice dancers than a frozen smile, a leotard and tears of joy.

She's a funny, gritty humorist who can laugh at her former life, which included her first trip to a bar at age 14 -- courtesy of Scott Hamilton -- and the thrill of sharing a dressing room with gold medal winner Katarina Witt.

"Katarina Witt was such a bitch," Ryan said. "Everything was given to her. She had her own dressing room and she would have the nerve to come into our dressing room and ask for scissors in that stupid accent."

There's nothing funny about Ryan's life as a comedian, with the exception of her performances. Ryan recently celebrated her 41st birthday by cracking wise in front of 12 people in dreary York, Pa.

"I figured I would treat myself with a steak and shrimp dinner. I was told since it was my birthday I would get it half off. Well, (after ordering) I was told they could only give me 25 percent off. It wasn't the greatest birthday."

But that's life on the road. "I'm totally in love with comedy," Ryan said. "That's why I do it."

There's nothing funny about and there are no exceptions. It's a Web site that accepts contributions for supplies for those serving in the Middle East. Ryan is hosting a benefit for tonight at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick.

"Not every soldier is getting a care package from home, which includes toiletries and that kind of stuff," Ryan explained. "It's really rough over there. We're sending packages marked any soldier since that's exactly who will get it. Soldiers who need these supplies will receive them."

Marty Horn, a retired army veteran from Maryland, runs the Web site. Horn's son Brian is serving in the army in Iraq. He alerted his dad of the crisis and the senior Horn went into action. Ryan is compelled to help the beleaguered warriors.

"It's just the right thing to do," Ryan said. 'One hundred percent of the proceeds from our show goes directly to"

The lineup for the event at the Stress Factory is impressive. Jim Norton of Opie & Anthony fame is slated to perform, in addition to his pal Rich Vos, who earned national notice courtesy of "Last Comic Standing." "Crank Yankers' " Jim Florentine, Stress Factory owner Vinnie Brand and Tony Darrow are also on the bill.

"We have a great group of comics who are coming out for a great cause," Ryan said.

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