For all you avid triple j Breakfast listeners you’re already very familiar with Matt Okine and the antics he brings. Well, now is your chance to not only hear him but to see him as well, as he embarks on a national comedy festival tour. The music-loving comedian talked about some very serious topics and it felt like we could have chatted all day. The guy has some pretty powerful stuff to say.
At the ARIAs you won Best Comedy Album, and the speech you made was quite prolific and powerful about sexism in the industry. How did you feel about all the media spin and it not being broadcast on TV?
It’s an interesting one. I was basically just stating facts, and that’s all it came down to. A lot of the media spin then came from people’s various opinions on those facts and it’s interesting how you can just simply state the obvious and then all of a sudden you’re caught in the middle of this tornado of opinions. I was terrified about it afterwards because all these people were wanting to talk to me and be the voice of this cause and that cause, and I was lying in bed the next day, and I was hungover as shit cause I’d just won, but I had to put my phone on silent cause it freaked me out. I was just sitting there trying to drink a Berocca.
Even though you were scared the next day after the ARIAs incident, do you think you would do something – like Jada, Will and Spike Lee have done by boycotting the Oscars – like that to prove a point and make a stand for your industry?
Yes. And I really do think I’d do that because there are things I’m doing behind the scenes now to make sure that I am following through and trying to do my best to make a difference. I want to lead as an example but I don’t want to try and pretend that I’m this perfect person.I just know that if I do the right thing, then I can be comfortable in my knowledge that I’ve done my bit. I had a meeting with my manager about all this yesterday, about what we can do, and it’s just about taking small steps.
Music and comedy are a match made in heaven and you have made such an impact in both industries. To what do you attest your success?
Working at a call centre ,basically. It’s amazing how much working in the world’s worst job will inspire you to do whatever the fuck it takes to never ever end up back there. I remember working there and being miserable and getting in trouble for playing online cricket and not selling anything cause I wasn’t in the mood to try and force sell a bottle of Moscato. I was deeply unhappy in that job and I remember thinking ‘whatever I have to do I gotta get out of this situation.’
I love your outlook on life and you’re a high-energy person. Is this positive energy something you try and radiate and share with your audiences, whether they’re radio listeners or show-goers?
It’s funny you say that cause I’m currently lying in my bed right now because it’s always around this time of the day [1:30pm] that I end up dying. I think I always like to remember what I’m doing just before the microphones turn on at 6am and the same thing before I go on stage. I always think about how excited I used to get when I was 18 and doing my first show.
I’d take a few friends to the Comedy Club in Brisbane and be doing a five minute show before one of the headliners on a Friday and Saturday night, and that was one of the biggest gigs you could get when you were 18. It was a real night out for me. I always like to think about that – how much fun it is. Where else would you wanna be other than at a comedy club? There are friends, drinks, heaps of people around and I get really excited about doing any sort of performing.
If you’re having a bad show, how do you try and find the humour to push through and get to the end? Cause that can be real tough.
Yeah that can be real tough. It’s funny how much you know you’re gonna have a shit show cause the five per cent of shit shows are where you say something just stupid or offend someone in the crowd and they turn on you, and the 95 per cent of shit shows you know the moment you walk out there by the first sentence and first joke and the response from the audience you think: ‘oh good it’s gonna be one of those nights’. And then you just have to push forward and push through it.
Bad shows are like anything; bad days at work just happen and when you’re working at an office job and you have a bad day, it’s fine cause tomorrow will be a good day so you gotta take it with a grain of salt. For the most part I’m at a stage now where I can safely say that I believe I’m good at what I do, so if I have a bad show it’s just gonna be a once-a-month thing and the nature of life. The ups and downs. If you start having 10 bad shows the problem is: ‘alright I really need to look at how bad these jokes are.’ That’s really the difference. And then it’s a simple fix – you just make better jokes.
You’ve been performing comedy since you were 18 years old. Do you feel like you’ve found yourself and that’s what resonates and transcends through your comedy because you know who you are so you don’t give a shit and your jokes are an extension of who you are?
Yeah definitely. I make an effort to be as honest as possible with who I am cause I know that all the fuck ups that I’ve made are things that so many people have done before. Surely I’m not the only one who’s ruined a sexy moment in bed by making a Ja Rule impression, you now what I mean? So now, if I talk about it on stage people can know they’ve been there, and no one is as sexy as the movies are and that dumb things happen sometimes.
So once you realise that everyone can relate to your errors I almost treat it now as a public service announcement more than anything. I treat my comedy sometimes as under the headline: Things I Wish I Taught My 18-Year-Old Self or ‘Things I wish I’d Heard as a Teenager– so I’d know that these mistakes aren’t the end of the world.
The show you’re taking on tour to all the comedy festivals and Adelaide Fringe, is self-titled: Matt Okine.
Yeah. I was actually gonna name it Do Not Broadcast This Message because I got this text message when I was on air one day mid-show and it said: “Dear Matt, that symptom you just talked about on the radio has nothing to do with your sciatic nerve, it’s actually a very serious symptom and you should see your neurologist about it immediately. Please give me a call.” Then it said with an asterisk “Please do not broadcast this message.” So this is on air when me and Alex are cracking jokes about being funny and I get this serious health message from a doctor and I’m like fuck. This seemed legit.
So I called the doctor back and they said, “I don’t want you to freak out but what you’ve described is a very common symptom in multiple sclerosis and you should really get it checked out.” So I went on this little journey learning about MS and that’s something I look at in the show. I also talk about the existential crisis you have when it comes to eating, Ja Rule impressions and all that sort of stuff. It’s gonna be a really fun exploration of the last year of my life.
Okine’s string of comedy festival appearances begin March 3 in Brisbane, but to find a show in a city near you head to http://www.mattokine.com/tour-dates/