While a lot of shows and resources dedicated to the paranormal and supernatural may fall into the doom and gloom/everyone is lying to you style of presentation, comedian and believer Ryan Singer approaches his podcast Me & Paranormal You with a simple call to arms: It’s more fun to believe.
And under that mantra he’s explored a variety of subjects with friends, guests that have reached out with experiences, researchers, and experts: from Atlantis to ghost perverts (pervert ghosts?) to the Black Knight satellite. I talked to Singer about the event that triggered his interest in the supernatural, skepticism, and just a little bit of Mothman stuff. Because you have to talk about Mothman stuff. It’s a rule.
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So, it’s rare to meet a comedian so open to experiences of the paranormal variety. Most of us are very cynical about very basic stuff, much less things that require an open mind and a bit of faith. Was there a specific incident or moment where you were like ‘you know what? Let’s do this.’
I definitely had a switch in my overall outlook from cynical to positive and then from thinking that some of this stuff was interesting to believing it was real. Years ago I dated a woman who experiencing what I’ve over the years called shape-shifting. Recently, it seems to be more accurately described as morphing.
On two occasions I witnessed this “morphing” happen. Once, it happened while we were together and the second time I came to see the results after the fact. It shattered everything that I thought was real in this life. I thought I had lost my mind.
The distinct sensation of feeling I shattered into a billion pieces came over me.
(Note: Singer discusses this event in an ‘Origin’ episode of the podcast that serves as a 15 minute introduction to the series. Check it out here.)
So do you think starting to explore and research was a way to cope? To figure out how those pieces were supposed to reconnect?
You know, that’s a good question. I think it probably was in a very real way a coping mechanism. Trying to make sense of something that didn’t make any logical sense, at least in the world that I am supposed to live in. To know what you’ve experienced and to have everyone around you think you’re being ridiculous, even crazy is hard to deal with over time.
And you were already doing comedy at this point, right?
Yes, I was doing comedy already, very early on in my career. In fact, I had met her an open mic night I was running with a friend.
So, this is interesting to me. A lot of comedians, working through the art of it, finally start to find their voice but for most people it’s sort of a superficial thing that you can look back on when you’re older and be like ‘well yeah duh, I just had to be more comfortable with myself’
You, on the other hand, had an event happen that completely challenged your reality, much less your voice on stage. What was that like creatively?
Honestly, at the time I did not have the comedic chops to handle tackling this event.
I can understand that. It took me ages just to acknowledge that I like comic books on stage.
To know how to make it relatable at all to an audience without just sounding like a total maniac… I would’ve reacted with anger if they didn’t get it. It was not long after she and I stopped dating and communicating that I dated another woman who made me realize that I was more funny when I was happy. That led to a major shift in my approach to comedy. These two events, happening closely to one another were like the great ice age coming to an end on Earth. I became warm and open to all kinds of new possibilities.
This was probably back around 2007 and 2008 that the shift happened. At first it was a bit difficult to let go of the idea that I could be funny and not be miserable, too. Or rather that my misery led to my comedy.
That’s a lovely thing to hear about, because that’s one thing I always associate with your comedy and podcast is that sense of fun.
Well, it definitely was not always there!
And it’s interesting that something that could have been shattering helped you reach that understanding.
I used to be very dark and invested in the idea of misery, sadness, even addiction being necessary to being funny as a comedian. i bought into the bullshit like everyone else. In a really lucky confluence of events, I also had read the book The War of Art at the same time as reading A New Earth. All of these things created a transformative tornado in me that has continued to take shape to this day.
People on the outside of your experience might used those same adjectives (misery, sadness, isolation) to describe people that surround themselves with the paranormal, but that clearly hasn’t been your experience.
That fascinates me, that concept. When it comes to many paranormal things, especially abilities, it would seem that people who possess them have a deeper connection to people that strangely leads to an isolation from them. I have very recently become almost obsessed with this idea. Why? It mirrors the social condition we are experiencing with the internet connecting people yet keeping them apart. I don’t have the words or thoughts to really express it all yet.
One must make a very conscious effort to talk about it and be open to even strangers to find that connection with the paranormal in others. The more you speak about it, the more people will come out of the paranormal woodwork and confide in you or connect with you.
When did that start happening for you? Did that fearlessness one develops as a performer helped you push this process for yourself?
Yes, I believe in pushing myself to the point of failure. Without failure I don’t experience any growth and that includes this, too.
Stand up comedy has led me down a path of shamelessness that many people who don’t perform might not have. So, I’m lucky in that way and have more access to people, strangers, etc. It started happening within comedy years ago, but especially the last year and a half since I started the mindcast (podcast) it has escalated greatly.
Do you find yourself still finding moments of skepticism with your podcast guests?
I think it is only natural from time to time to think “Oh what now?” To lose all skepticism from my mind might be too far to one end of the spectrum. I don’t know. I am open to all possibilities because I know how ridiculous or crazy people over the last 10 years have thought I am when telling them of what I saw.
I keep that in mind because all the people I have spoken to, I don’t think anyone has taken me for a ride so to speak. I don’t have the massive audience that someone could benefit from lying to me, I guess. I just don’t see the payoff but maybe that is me being naive.
And ultimately, it is more fun to believe. I try to really go along for the journey when they are telling me their experience because they believe them and that is enough for me. Yesterday I had such a crazy experience with two guests that I interviewed back to back and what is now unfolding is almost to surreal to fully comprehend at the moment. But, it is why I do this and will continue to do it. Sorry about being vague, but they haven’t aired yet and I can’t really say details.
How has this openness affected your relationship with friends and family that are skeptics or nonbelievers? You’re in a green room with other comics, do you ever feel patronized, or have those moments where you feel like folks are smiling and nodding along?
I don’t think it has negatively affected my personal relationships because I am not attached to or try not to be attached to other people’s judgements of me. No one has stopped talking to me or disowned me. Some may think, “Oh here comes Singer, this maniac.” But, that is just me guessing.
I have not felt patronized, but at times I know when is a good time or where is a good place to go deeper into stories. I don’t want to force any of this stuff onto anyone. Frankly, I am usually too into the telling of it all or excitement of it all to even care about that happening.
It is not important for other people to believe, but it is important that they understand that I do.
That’s really all I care about at the end of the day.
What are some episodes of the podcast that you walked away feeling really strongly about?
I think for me personally, Experience 76 where I get to interview my ex about what we experienced together was very profound. Just because I never thought she would speak to me about it, let alone have it recorded. I didn’t know if I would ever see her again. We hadn’t seen each other in almost 10 years before the interview.
How did you feel that day before you recorded? I think everyone can relate to reconnecting with THAT PERSON in their lives, but yours was a little more than that.
I felt very nervous about it all. Didn’t know what would happen. I thought we were just going to see each other and catch up and didn’t anticipate an interview would happen. When she agreed to it I was so excited. I had to ask because I never would’ve forgiven myself if I didn’t.
The interview is one hell of a ‘let’s hash stuff out’ conversation to have with an ex. You weren’t necessarily together long, but shared some very intimate experiences. How does it feel being a little bit Agent Mulder and a little bit John Cusack?
We definitely shared some intimate experiences and in a very real way a deep level of intimacy that I’m not sure I have had with other people. Not better or more deep, but definitely different. I’ve never really thought of myself as Agent Mulder and definitely not Cusack, but there’s certainly an interesting dynamic during the interview process when you have known someone romantically in the past. I feel like it should allow for more vulnerability possibly, but it could also cause some hesitation on my part to not want to “take advantage” of the past we shared for entertainment’s sake or a selfish reason like that. It is a fine line to walk.
I’ve been told that it would be a failure on my part not to ask who you favorite Ghostbuster is. I’m not going to lie, I think mine might be Louis.
Definitely Venkman because Bill Murray’s comedy just always and forever is so dear to me. Although Ray, Dan Akroyd’s characters may be more like in real life. But, I may be attributing that to the fact that Dan is into the paranormal in real life very much.
Are there any lesser known phenomena you are interested in and think people should know more about?
I have become very fascinated and scared of the Djinn. It may sound foolish, but I have bought a couple necklaces that are supposed to be good protection tools against the Djinn- the shape-shifting tricksters, also known as Shadow People. I love the Mothman, too. At least one person who is prominent in the field of paranormal research has speculated that the Mothman is in fact a Djinn.
The Djinn are mentioned throughout history and are prominent figures in the Qu’ran. If the accounts of their existence are true, they are not to be messed with even though many people make deals with them. It is widely accepted in other cultures, not here in the West that people make deals with Djinn regularly in politics and other areas.