Favourite things - An American’s view

Ryan Offutt originally from the States and is now part of a comedy improv troupe in Sheffield called Monkey Butler.
Ryan Offutt originally from the States and is now part of a comedy improv troupe in Sheffield called Monkey Butler.

Ryan Offutt grew up near Washington DC, but has called Sheffield home since 2002. He has been creative director of Monkey Butler Improv, a Sheffield-based improvisational comedy group, since 2010. He lives in Walkley with his wife and son.

Monkey Butler are performing their Improv Comedy Christmas Show at the Library Theatre tonight ( December 19). Ryan guarantees that it will be more entertaining than anything on television this evening.

If you fancy having a go yourself, the group are running an introduction to improv course in the New Year. For show tickets and more details about the course, go to mbimprov.com.

Street Food Chef

The Street Food Chef in Arundel Street in Sheffield city centre is my homesickness cure (fact: this is true for most American ex-pats in Sheffield). It’s amazing how my outlook on life improves once I’ve enjoyed some of their delicious tacos and burritos, washed down with a refreshing Mexican cola.

To understand the impact this restaurant has for us American ex-pats, think about moving to another country where you can’t get any fish and chips for years. Then, all of a sudden, Rick Stein opens a chip shop down the street from your house.

Peace Gardens

On a warm, summer day, there’s nowhere better - kids and parents laughing and splashing in the fountains, businessmen on their lunch break catching some sun, older couples on benches eating ice cream, and packs of teenagers carrying skateboards around, but never actually riding them. On the right day it’s full of energy, life and love - a great picture of Sheffield. I like it so much, I proposed to my wife there.

Rivelin Valley

Some ex-pat friends and I tried to think of an American city with as great a combination of urban amenities and access to the countryside as Sheffield. We couldn’t think of one. The Rivelin Valley is my favourite route to escape into the country. It is wonderful to have such a vibrant and peaceful park to enjoy on my doorstep.

Our Cow Molly farm shop

I know, everyone loves Our Cow Molly - not the most original suggestion. But have you been to the farm shop? It’s well worth a visit. Not only will you experience ice cream nirvana, but you can tell the cow yourself how much you enjoyed it.


Okay, so I actually have two homesickness cures. I’m from Maryland (one of the more obscure states - it always does well as an answer on Pointless), and Relish on Ecclesall Road happens to serve my other cure, Maryland-style crab cakes with Old Bay seasoning. They will even put Old Bay seasoning on your chips. Eating at Relish is like teleporting to Baltimore. I love it.

The Montgomery

This is the Surrey Street theatre where Monkey Butler Improv have our weekly improvisational comedy workshops. It’s a cool building, a great arts space and the team who run it are really supportive of local arts groups like us.

Monkey Butler Improv

We do improvisational comedy, where we make up comedy scenes completely in the moment in front of live audiences, based on their suggestions (like ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’). The actors in Monkey Butler Improv amaze me - by day they work in our city, working in all sorts industries - marketing, teaching, media and medicine to name a few - then at night they transform into seriously talented comedians.

They’re also a fantastic bunch of friends who make me laugh so hard it hurts, and they’re definitely one of my favourite things about Sheffield.