Delving deep into the mind of Dan Ramos - Scott Stephenson editorial
For this week’s plunge into paranoid paronomasia, The Chaff is conducting its first-ever in-depth interview. That’s right, it’s time for a Chaffterview! Who better as the first subject of our unflinching gaze than quixotic Quebec-born Qu’omedian, Dan Ramos?
But who is this man Dan with a plan making calls from the banana in his hand? You may know him from his role as Bosco in James Wan’s Malignant. Or if you’re one of The Chaff’s many child readers (check out Child Chaff: The Chaff for Children!) you may recognize him as disturbed dogcatcher Jinx Jones in Netflix’s cult-hit Phantom Pups. If you’re Pauly Shore, you know Dan Ramos as your tour videographer. If you’re comedy icon Dave Chappelle, you know Dan Ramos as that wacky cameraman that’s filming perennial jurist Pauly Shore for some reason. If you’re a loyal Chaff-fan, you know Dan Ramos from the very first Chaffterview. And if you don’t know Dan Ramos, don’t worry - you will soon enough!
The Chaff caught up with the jovial jester sequestered in his East Hollywood apartment under the ever-watchful eye of a poster of outsider comedy artisan David Lieberhart, the remote repartee was chockablock with laughs and gaffes ranging from riff to raff, with a quorum of questions going ultimately unanswered.
Was Dan Ramos born, fully formed from a congealing puddle of organic comedy ooze? Is there a method to his madness? We did not know, and we still don’t know the answers to all these questions. “Everybody thinks that when I go on stage, I’m unprepared…” he began, before abandoning the topic entirely.
The Chaff first encountered Ramos in Toronto, during his RIOTous years at Ryerson University, now known as his Toronto Metropolitan years. During those days, Ramos was a blur of pretend phones, “smedium” t-shirts, and soda bottle-balancing acts. Any found object could be restlessly escalated into a bit of infinite silliness, only to quickly fizzle back into nothingness. “Imagine your whole day is just not missing anything so people can have maximum laughs,” Ramos pondered. “Now I have a lot more fun just being silly!”
It was at Ryerson that Ramos encountered a different kind of Dan, in the form of cutting-edge comedy creep Daniel Kurland. The two instantly entered into a combative comedy relationship that eventually culminated in the two men moving south to perform their bizarre brand of sketch on New York City stages.
The ever-restless Ramos eventually escaped from New York, and travelled across America solving mysteries and riding the rails, eventually ending up in Los Angeles.
MONTAGE: Los Angeles. Ramos washing dishes in a Thai restaurant, going on auditions, meeting agents, performing on The Gong Show as a skateboard-balancing leprechaun, doing stand-up in various alt-comedy rooms, frequenting the Comedy Store. “I’ve never been to a major cathedral, but I know it must feel like The Comedy Store,” said Ramos.
Having spent a number of years in L.A. without gaining traction, Ramos decided to finally leave and return to Montreal. Then he didn’t. Around that time, he was approached by Shore about filming him on an incumbent tour. When the Son-in-Law himself calls, you best come correct, and the two vaudevillians set off for Las Vegas in a van.
Besides his work documenting Bio-Dome survivor Pauly Shore, he’s recently made two biographical films - a feature length film about himself, and a short film about the life of French Canadian harlequin, Jean-Luc Tibolo Thibault. Rumoured to be the bastard son of Cirque du Soleil and Emmett Kelly, Tibolo Thibault became famous for his avant garde prop comedy and brutally honest sleight of hand. Known as “The Filipino Fratellini”, Tibolo Thibault was a prolific filmmaker. At the height of his career, he was selling out football stadiums across the country, and went on to be the second-ever clown to receive the Order of Canada. The frequently foul-mouthed merryandrew, once Montreal’s premier street performer, has seen his career decline in recent years, and has been forced to take up the shameful act of instructional clowning. Truly a tragic downfall for one of Canada’s undisputed greatest clowns.
It’s not hard to see what drew Ramos to Tibolo Thibault - there are many parallels between the two funny-men - both born in Montreal, both the children of Filipino immigrants, both fascinated with film from a young age, both polarizing figures in the world of modern clowning.
Does Ramos have plans to direct feature films like his hero, Jean-Luc Tibolo Thibault? Of course he does. “Feature films are just major, long scenes,” he explained. “You figure it out. Listen to that voice in your head that tells you you’re going to do it… don’t live your life for someone else’s dream.”
What wise words indeed! Whatever the future holds for this non-stop chuckle-buck, you heard it here first - this guy’s really got something!