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A Comic Looks At 40(ish)

Ryan Waning tells me a joke. Two elderly men are in a nursing home guessing each other’s ages in an—ahem—unconventional way. It’s not tasteless, but it borders on the crass. I consider opening this article with it, hesitate, almost go for it, then stop. This magazine’s a class act, man.

I counter with a joke of my own, an old favorite about a pirate with a ship’s wheel sticking out his pants. He doesn’t laugh. Waning knows funny. I’m not funny. Waning, on the other hand—he’s funny.

He grew up in Auburn and graduated from Edward Little High School. After that, he went to UMaine “for, like, nine years and finally graduated,” he said. “It was like [the movie] ‘Van Wilder,’ without all the cool parts.” He got an English degree (“It’s served me well in the realm of fake documents that I own”).

Today, the just-over-40-year-old lives in Carmel and makes his living as a standup comic. He takes gigs all over New England. He’s been doing this for a long time. It started at some point in the mid-’90s, he said, when he heard about a contest called “Portland’s Funniest Man” and signed up on a lark. The 16-year-old Waning lied about his age to get in, and bummed a ride off of friends because he didn’t have his license. He ended up tying for second place in the first round, and got eliminated in the next.

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