Meet Me In New York: Phil Hanley

What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they’re comedians? No, that’s not it. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York’s vibrant comedy scene. It’s called Meet Me In New York.

Phil Hanley always strikes me as so cool, calm and collected onstage, I sometimes forget he’s another C: Canadian. It’s probably his stance that gives off that vibe. Legs wide. Leaning back. Arms folded, microphone hand leisurely resting against his other arm. Hanley isn’t just a Canadian, though; he’s a Canadian in New York. I’ve been watching him grow comedically over the past few years. As his credits have mounted (The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show (where he’s pictured last year, above)), his presence has increased in more venues around the city.

You can see him regularly at The Comedy Cellar now; tonight, he’s headlining a show at Caroline’s on Broadway; and Thursday night, you can see him on your TVs on The Pete Holmes Show on TBS. He also just launched a new podcast with Nikki Glaser called “We Know Nothing.”

Sounds like a perfect time to get to know more about Hanley and his transition from Vancouver to NYC!

Name: Phil Hanley
Arrival date: July 2011
Arrived from: Vancouver, B.C., Canada
When and where did you start performing comedy? Vancouver B.C., around nine years ago.

What was your best credit before moving here? The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else?

I saw the Seinfeld documentary Comedian right when I was thinking of starting to do stand-up…it give me the final push to start and made me determined on doing stand up in NYC.

How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? 

After a month or so I was getting spot pay at the Comic Strip.

How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? 

Vancouver was a great place to start out. I lived five minutes from the best club in the country, “The Comedy Mix.” But you can’t even compare the scenes. I can do the same number of shows in a night in New York that I would struggle to do in a week in Vancouver. New York is the best.

Can you describe an “only in New York City” moment from your experience here?

Two months ago I was on a show with Jerry Seinfeld at The Comedy Cellar. That’s where most of Comedian was shot. It was surreal.

What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here?

Consider coming to visit the city a few times to get the lay of the land. I’d sublet a place for a few weeks and try and get some spots and figure out how the scene worked. I think that helped me acclimate myself. Also once I moved here, I tried to spend as much time in the city as I could. Even now I try not to be on the road for long stenches because when I come back I feel out of touch.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Celebrating my roommate’s eighth birthday.

You can follow Phil Hanley on Twitter @PhilMHanley. You can hear Phil Hanley with Nikki Glaser on We Know Nothing here. Comedy Central has a few clips of Hanley in stand-up action on cable TV.

For a more visual look inside Hanley’s world, here’s Scott Moran’s “Modern Comedian” episode about him and learning to do crowd work from his experiences in Canada. This video was uploaded a year ago today!

Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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