Steve Way On Comedy and Working On Ramy “He would always make sure I was comfortable.”
Hulu’s Ramy is a show with a difference. Tune in and you’ll see Ramy Youssef in the lead role, playing a regular dude, trying to figure out women and life in New Jersey. He goes to a party and is offered a mind-altering drug. In another episode, he’s putting his foot in his mouth when he’s talking about death with his best friend’s mother – her son has muscular dystrophy. He’s high and being a dick. He’s also religious. Ramy is a first generation Egyptian-American. So, while he’s trying to figure out life and everything it throws at him, he’s also straddling his faith. That’s right. Ramy is Muslim and he’s not being stereotyped.
Created by Ramy Youssef, Ramy is the hilarious new show you should be watching. Based on Youssef’s own life, the show has just been picked up for a second season and defines representation in more ways than one.
His best friend is played by Steve Way, Youssef’s best friend in real-life and Youssef insisted Way play himself. Not only is the show diverse, Way himself has muscular dystrophy and Youssef wanted to make sure his friend’s representation was as authentic as possible.
I had a brief chat with Way about how Ramy Youssef convinced him to join the show and how he had received praise not just from the disabled community, but also other fans of the show.
I loved seeing you in Ramy, and you are so refreshing to see on TV. You and Ramy are best friends, and you go back, when did you first meet him?
As you saw at the end of episode 4, we met at school.
I was watching your appearance on this and was so blown away by your comic timing and your on-screen presence. This was your first acting job. What did Ramy say to you and what made you say yes?
He assured me that I would not do anything that I wasn’t comfortable doing. He always kept me updated with what he was writing for me and what situations I would be in. Whenever I had any problems or questions, he’d always find time to talk to me and talk it out. He would always make sure I was comfortable.
He told me to just have fun with it. There’s always that fear going into it, and I had that in my mind, but it really was probably one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had.
I loved that episode when you were shooting that scene in the office.
The crew were some of the most welcoming and accepting people that I’ve ever met in my life. They are a big reason why I was so comfortable on set and why I had as much fun as I did. Everyone was so friendly and just so nice. It was such a great work environment. I think that’s more than half of it. I became confident in a lot of people. They were really accommodating on set. They made sure I had time to eat, to rest up, to get ready, to get my strength back. It was so much more than I could ever ask for.
I loved how sharp-witted you are in the show. How much are you like Steve in real-life? How much do you put him in his place and call him on his bullshit when he needs to be called out?
After the show had launched, you went out and did standup going out there?
I’ve been doing standup and going out on the road for nine years. I’ve been a public speaker since I was nine. Being on stage was never a problem. I’ve always used humor as a coping mechanism for my disability so to merge the two just came so naturally.
What has it been like for you since the show launched? What’s so great is seeing you on screen because representation truly matters and Ramy insisted you be cast in the role.
Of course. It’s been nothing but positive for me. I get recognized a lot by regular people. I get recognized by people in the Muslim community, and I’ve gotten a lot of praise in the disabled community who are so happy to see someone who looks like them and to play someone like them. Also, for me to have input on my role is so important too. There were some things that Ramy had that weren’t true or that wasn’t unique to disability and that is why he made sure that everything was unique to me. He wanted it to be as authentic as possible.
You are also a Substitute teach when you’re not doing standup or on Ramy?
Yes. We’re done with the year as of this week.