There's a belief in comedy that good-looking people can't be funny. They have it too easy, the reasoning goes. Comedy's for the social outcasts, not those who seemingly have it all.
But that old rule doesn't apply to Phil Hanley. Not only does the former male model have a burgeoning career as a Hollywood screenwriter but he's also getting quite the name around town as one of the best up-and-coming standup comics. Will Davis, the artistic director of the CanWest ComedyFest, likes him so much he chose to include Hanley in the Rising Stars showcase at the new Vancouver's Funny Bone (September 21 to 23) in front of some of the industry's top agents and producers.
For Hanley, it's been a quick comedic rise from his move to Vancouver three years ago after stints on the runways and in the studios of New York and Europe, which he is disinclined to discuss. “I don't usually tell people this because it's so embarrassing,” he says by phone from his Vancouver home, which he shares with his parents. (“I'm not only a comedian,” goes one of his jokes, “I'm also a stay-at-home son....My parents are semiretired, so we have that in common.” )
Hanley worked for such clients as Giorgio Armani, Levi's, and Fred Perry. He's even appeared in British GQ. “I'm kind of bashful about it because it's so ridiculous,” he says now. “Even at the time when I was modelling, I wouldn't tell people I was modelling. I wouldn't even tell my friends at home.”
Unlike the stereotypical male model portrayed in Zoolander, Hanley appears to have zero ego when it comes to his looks. “By North American standards, I don't look like the all- American guy, obviously. But when I was in England and in Europe, I looked quite...” He searches for the right example, then trails off. “Mick Jagger's a sex symbol in England, right? And the actors on Coronation Street.”
Hanley gave improv comedy a try at both the Vancouver TheatreSports League and the Upright Citizens' Brigade in New York, but found his niche in standup the first time he tried it at the Jupiter Cafe. “On the way back to the table I thought 'Yeah, this is what I want to do.'?”
He says he still likes improv but tries to perform at least five standup shows a week and has no time for much else. Especially when he writes most days for Key Pix Productions Inc. His first credited film, Air Buddies, is being released on DVD in December through Disney.
“I really enjoy writing,” he says, “but standup is just my favourite thing to do.”
All this and handsome, too””some guys have all the luck.