In the years when my college improv team had dwindled to a handful of performers, one dedicated and passionate guy kept the torch alive and rekindled the group into an unstoppable juggernaut of success. Thanks to him the group continues to exist sixteen years after it's creation. That guy was Ryan Kemp (his friends call him just "Kemp") an indescribable character who seemed to live as if he knew he would die young.
Kemp's life ended suddenly in a car crash last year, and I'd like to take a moment to remember him.
After college, Kemp spent summers studying longform at Second City under many respected improvisers, including Susan Messing. He was known for his generosity, passion, and irresistible friendly nature. He filled every moment with purpose and meaning, constantly sharing his passions with those he loved. But he was also a goofball. I remember smiling when I heard he convinced Second City veteran Scott Adsit to recreate a classic photo from the Second City mainstage review, Pinata Full of Bees at the Chicago Comic Expo (Recreated photo below). Typical Kemp.
In addition to improv, Kemp absolutely loved Ghostbusters. He ate, breathed, and slept Ghostbusters, and he thrived on attending conventions and community events in character. Now that he's passed, there are pages and pages of improvisers and Ghostbuster-community friends memorializing and remembering him on Facebook. Ben Hagan of HappyGAS writes:
"(I remember) the shows he'd come and perform with us and still be in his jump suit because he just traveled from another [Ghostbusters] convention or children's hospital. And he'd perform in his suit and kill it, then set around and talk for hours after the show about everything. Then he'd get maybe two hours of sleep and the go for a parade or some other thing."
Kemp was that kind of person.
He was so beloved that after his passing, many friends sent tweets and emails to director Paul Feig, imploring him to include Kemp in the credits of the new Ghostsbusters movie - which is how he recently found his way into my thoughts. My daughters and I went to the movie recently, and sure enough...
Kemp would've been absolutely thrilled.
The world didn't only lose a great improviser when it lost Ryan Kemp. It lost a great human being.
Happy trails, Kemp. You are missed.