Two personalities tackle gender and comedy differently

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First Posted: 5/27/2014

On the surface, comedians Andrew Schulz and Samantha Ruddy couldn’t appear more different. She’s as easygoing and self-effacing as he is fast-talking and in-your-face. She’s a Scranton native who now makes her home in Syracuse, while he’s a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker through and through.

Their senses of humor are as different as their personalities. Nevertheless, the comedy stylings of Schulz and Ruddy share one common recurring theme: gender.

“I’m a dude,” Schulz says, matter-of-factly. “I’m just a dude out here trying to explain to women what it’s like to be a dude.”

This comes as no surprise to anyone already familiar with his work. Schulz, who will headline a night of stand-up comedy at Kildare’s Irish Pub in Scranton on Tuesday, June 3, with Ruddy supporting, is best known as the star of the hit MTV2 shows “Guy Code” and “Guy Court.”

“I don’t sugarcoat anything,” he says. “A lot of comedians will get up there and say, ‘Oh, women are the most amazing, beautiful creatures,’ or whatever, because they know the audience is full of dudes who are with women they want to get laid by. I think most people, men and women, just want to see the realness.”

Obviously, Ruddy, who performed at the Women in Comedy Festival in Boston last month and more recently took second place in the preliminary rounds of The Unforgettable Comedy Challenge in Syracuse, views things through a different lens.

That said, being a woman isn’t the only thing that gives Ruddy a separate perspective on gender relations.

“I’m a lesbian,” Ruddy says, “so I draw a lot of material from that, because you have a different worldview when you’re coming from that point-of-view. You can make people think about things in ways they haven’t before, and you can make people see things from a whole new perspective.”

Still, sexuality and gender identity aren’t the most important aspects of Ruddy’s comedy. After all, they are just pieces of who she is. What makes stand-up a unique experience for Ruddy, who also writes and performs sketch comedy, is the chance it gives her to express her point-of-view as a complete and multifaceted person all her own.

“When you’re doing sketch comedy, you’re in a writers’ room. When you do come up with a great idea, you have people patting you on the back, but you also have people saying, ‘I don’t like that,’ or ‘How about we try this?’” she says.

“Stand-up, meanwhile, is kind of a lonely art. When you don’t succeed, there’s no one there to fall back on, but when you do succeed, it’s just you succeeding. Stand-up is a very individual, personal thing.”

It looks like this is one more thing Ruddy shares with Schulz.

“All the TV stuff I do, I do so I can do the stand-up. If you’re a comedian who does TV or film or whatever, you’re doing those things just so you get on stage more,” Schulz says.

“Stand-up is both more vulnerable and less vulnerable. You really connect with people. The reaction is just so immediate, and that’s the rush.”