Comedian Ray Ellin Talks Doing Standup in a Bowling Alley and His 'Little House' Podcast (EXCLUSIVE)

“You would never think that two comics would get together and talk about a sweet TV show set in the late 1800s."

Jamie Lerner - Author

Apr. 27 2024, Published 4:17 p.m. ET

Ray Ellin performs at "Comedy for a Cause" benefit
Source: Getty Images

Some comedians go viral on TikTok — others take the old-school route of grinding for years by rising up in the big city clubs and touring around to captive audiences. One such comedian is Ray Ellin, who’s now a regular at New York City’s historic Comedy Cellar, owns his own comedy club in Aruba, and hosts a podcast called Wild Nights on the Prairie with Ray Ellin.

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In the podcast, Ray and other guests break down the classic show, Little House on the Prairie, through a comedic perspective as a way into talking about life’s most significant moments. After a few decades in comedy, Ray has more than enough stories to go on the Little House journey, and it’s about time we recognize his comedic aptitude!

Ray Ellin at the 3rd annual Carney Awards
Source: Getty Images
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Ray Ellin is a stand-up comedian who performs regularly at the Comedy Cellar.

If you don’t often hit the big cities or travel to Aruba, you may not have seen Ray perform in a very long time. In 2013, he opened Aruba Ray’s Comedy Club, which is now rated No. 1 on TripAdvisor for Best Show, Best Nightlife, and Best Fun and Games. He splits his time between New York City, Aruba, and other major international cities, such as Barcelona and London.

In 2018, Ray was a producer on This Week at the Comedy Cellar, where he performs regularly. The Comedy Cellar has risen over the past few decades as arguably the best comedy club in New York City, which is arguably the best city for comedy in the world. “I think the reason that the Cellar really first became successful was because some really big name comics started coming to the club,” Ray said exclusively to Distractify.

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“Colin Quinn and Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K. — his show was set there, and Dave Attell and and then comics who started there became really big, like Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari. And of course, Chris Rock is there a lot and Dave Chappelle is there a lot. Ray Romano, of course, has filmed his special there and that's his home. And Robin Williams showed up, and then I actually think social media is then what made that club explode,” he added of the club’s more recent popularity.

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Ray performs alongside these household name comics frequently, and now that people like Madonna and John Mayer are sharing their Comedy Cellar adventures on social media, the club has grown to include five different rooms. “I appreciate that they really care what the experience is going to be for the audience member,” he shared. “How many times have we performed in a place where literally, they stick a microphone in a bowling alley? I once did stand-up and people were bowling behind me, like that is preposterous.”

Ray Ellin hosts the Gong Show Live
Source: Getty Images
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Now, Ray is focusing on his podcast, ‘Wild Nights on the Prairie with Ray Ellin.’

As a stand-up comedian, Ray has seen it all. From performing in bowling alleys pubs with pool tables in front of the stage to headlining the world’s best clubs, Ray’s wide swath of experiences is what makes him the perfect person to do a Little House rewatch podcast. “You would never think that two comics would get together and talk about a sweet TV show set in the late 1800s,” he admits.

“But what's cool about it is that we could definitely draw parallels from episodes in the show to present day. So for example, I had one of the episodes my guest was Jaye McBride, who's a trans comic, and she and I broke down this episode called 'Injin Kid,' which is about a Native American boy who moves to Walnut Grove and he's half Native American and half white. And his grandfather doesn't want people to know that he's his grandson.

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“It’s pretty awful the way he's treated by other kids and by his own family. And so we use that as a jumping off point to get into Jaye’s experience transitioning and being a trans comic and just dealing with her own family,” he explains. As he dives deeper into Little House, we’re eager to see how Ray connects the world on the prairie to the lives of modern-day comedians.

Episodes of Wild Nights on the Prairie are available wherever you get your podcasts.

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