Social media is home to many sit-down comedy acts who make the world laugh with a clever one-liner or gif, but few have made the transition to the stage. Laura Ramoso is now proving to be quite a star in stand-up circles.
German mum, Italian dad, the girl who just got back from (insert name of country here): for those of us who find ourselves turning to social media for a dose of humour, these have all likely become familiar faces.
Laura Ramoso, the Toronto-based comedian behind these hilarious and yet utterly relatable characters, has amassed more than 34-million likes on TikTok and 750k followers on Instagram, but will this week be bringing her roster of personas to real-life audiences across the Atlantic at her Edinburgh Fringe debut.
Ahead of her first-time foray onto the Scottish stage with her acclaimed show Frances, Euronews Culture caught up with Ramoso to discuss her journey into comedy, multicultural upbringing and, perhaps most importantly, her love for Mr Bean.
Tell us a bit about your journey to gaining hundreds of thousands of internet fans? How did you first get into comedy?
I went to theatre school for university and always thought that I'd be a classical, dramatic actor, though I always enjoyed performing in comedic roles.
It's actually an interesting story, I think! I went to San Francisco to audition for Juilliard's School of Drama for my masters when I was finishing up my undergraduate degree. I got through a few stages, but didn't get through, then the following year I wanted to audition again. I went to Chicago and completely bombed my audition.
I wanted to cheer myself up so I decided to go watch a show at the Second City theatre. That was the first time I'd seen sketch comedy live and performed in that way. I never knew it was possible to do that – it was kind of like a little epiphany!
That's when I decided I wanted to pursue that. So, I moved to Toronto, because there's a Second City here. I did graduate school as well, but just absolutely immersed myself and then started producing my own work. Then Covid hit and that's when I started to make videos.
Is the process of creating material for a video versus a live performance radically different?
Totally different, they are completely different mediums. One key difference is the context you can provide on screen – you can just put in a text over the top and explain pretty much the entire point of view, so you can just get right into it in 30 seconds. You can edit, there's cuts. On stage, not only do you have to be engaging and a good performer, but you also have to provide that context in an interesting way.
Since everything's opened back up again, I went back to live performance and now that I have this online foundation it's been so cool to see people coming who have seen the videos and who are interested in the characters.
Europe – largely via German mum and Italian dad – plays a big role in your comedy. How do you think your multicultural upbringing has fed into your work?
I think the travel and the abroad aspect is very relatable to a lot of people, but I think because I grew up in such different cultures, I was kind of forced to relate to other people less through politics and more through small day-to-day observations – you know, what your dad does before going to the airport or what moms are like. Growing up that way really informed a lot of my comedy because it's very observational and not very sociopolitical.
Were you brought up multilingual? Do you feel like your sense of humour changes when you're speaking or working in different languages?
We spoke German, Italian and French at home. I think humour has so much to do with the rhythm and pacing of the language. Italian, as you can imagine, is a lot more physical and expressive and there's a lot less wordplay. It's very, very fun to play both sides and obviously going back and forth, but it does sometimes just take me a while to get back into my sense of humour and fall into that rhythm.
You’re now based in Toronto and have a huge American and Canadian audience. How do you think the European influence on your work is perceived and understood by your North American audience?
Here, most people are immigrants – second, third, fourth generation, often having come from Europe to settle. And I think something that differs between here and Europe is that people really feel connected to the cultures and the nationalities of their grandparents and great grandparents – so you might say you’re Italian-American or Italian-Canadian, for example, and they have this very strong sense of identity. I think many people here find the comedy relatable because of that.
Who are your comedy heroes?
My biggest influence and my first education in comedy was the Italian sketch comedy trio Aldo, Giovanni & Giacomo. My dad and I would watch their sketch specials together. Then on top of that, Mr. Bean as well. I always watched Mr. Bean. Those were for sure the top two that influenced me.
How have you found being a young woman in the world of comedy?
Aside from your classic internet troll, I've been lucky and able to go through this process without too much adversity. My biggest goal is to be entertaining and to make people laugh – of course I have points of view, but it’s mainly just about being funny and I find that people respond to that and come to my page just to be entertained. I think another thing that helps is that 85% of my followers are women between the ages of 25 to 34 – so my audience is also kind of just like me, you know?
Finally, how are you feeling about performing at the Edinburgh Fringe?
I feel like everyone's been telling me about the experience, but I can't understand what it's going to be like until I do it. I’m overwhelmed, nervous and excited all at once. It’s going to be so many shows – 27 in a row with one day off – but then everyone's doing it and you're just in that ecosystem for a whole month. I also think I’m probably naive about it – but we’ll see!
Frances by Laura Ramoso runs at Edinburgh’s Pleasance Theatre from 2-28 August 2023.