ED2013 Comedy ED2013 Interviews ED2013 Week3 Edition

Matt Okine: Toasting an Edinburgh newcomer

By | Published on Tuesday 20 August 2013

Matt Okine

Having been declared Best Newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last year, Matt Okine has brought the show that won him the prize – ‘Being Black & Chicken & S#%t’ – to the Fringe this month. We threw some questions in Matt’s general direction to find out more…

CC: So, ‘Being Black N Chicken N Shit’ – other than being black and chicken and shit, obviously, what’s the show about?
MO: It’s about family, and struggle, and money, and moral dilemmas, and plane crashes, and racism, and toast. Actually, it’s mainly about toast.

CC: You’ve had loads of success with the show back in Australia, and in London last year, what motivated you to bring it to the Edinburgh Fringe?
MO: The Edinburgh Fringe is like the Olympics of comedy. I feel like I’ve done the training. Australia is like the Commonwealth Games. London is like the World Championships. I won gold at both. It’s time to take this bad boy to the world stage. I promised myself I would only ever get a tattoo if I competed in an Olympic games, but seeing as this is like the Olympics of comedy, maybe it’s time I get Arthur’s Seat tattooed onto my face.

CC: Has the show changed since you first performed it in 2011?
MO: The show has changed SO much. When I first performed it in 2011, it was a crying mess of a baby, not even aware that it had pooped itself all over the place. Now, it is a young adult, ready to have a ‘gap year’ in the UK where it will no doubt “find itself” by working at a backpackers hostel and drinking every second night. What I’m trying to say is – this show is in the prime of its life.

CC: How do Edinburgh audiences compare to those back home?
MO: The Edinburgh audiences have been great! It’s so awesome to see so many people willing to take a risk on a comedian they’ve never heard of before. People warned me that there would be lots of drunk people in my crowds, but so far, I’ve only had one group of really drunk guys, and they’d been drinking since 10am, so they were past the ‘shouty’ stage of drunk, and were planted firmly in the ‘just trying to sit still and not vomit’ stage.

CC: How does the Edinburgh Fringe compare to the many other comedy festivals you’ve performed at?
MO: As I say, this is the crème de la crème of comedy festivals. The highest level. The finest fruit. There is no time for fluffing about. Though one thing I really love about the Edinburgh Fringe is that it’s not just comedy. At any stage, if I’m sick of jokes, I can go and watch an amateur magic show, and sometimes end up laughing just as much.

CC: For a lot of comedians, once you’ve done Edinburgh once, it becomes part of your year, providing an annual deadline to write a new show. Do you think you’ll become a regular at the Festival?
MO: I hope so. I’d like to think that lots of the people who have seen me this year will come back to my shows in future years, and continue the support. Also, I won’t stop coming back here until I’ve been to every single pub in this town, which should only take me about 400 years to get through.

CC: You also perform in ManChoir. What’s that? Could you see ManChoir doing the Fringe once year?
MO: I would freaking love to see ManChoir at the Edinburgh Fringe! Especially if we could make a special limited-edition ManChoir kilt to match our singlets. I think Edinburgh is the perfect place for a group of hairy men singing old rock classics. Maybe we can do a special guest-appearance at the Tattoo?

CC: You were also involved in a thing called ‘The Future Machine’, what’s that about?
MO: That’s a webseries I co-created a couple of years ago. Basically, my friend and I wanted to film a show about two guys sitting in their lounge room, and before we knew it, we’d made a cool little sci-fi series with time machines, and bear suits, and music videos, and all-round general bufoonery.

CC: You act as well as doing the comedy. Do you see the acting and comedy as equal parts of what you do, or is the acting a sideline?
MO: I don’t consider anything I do as a ‘sideline’. Everything I do is on the field. And a lot of my comedy is performance-based, so I try to focus on all the disciplines equally. That said – it’s a lot easier to put on my own comedy show than it is to make my own TV show to act in.

CC: As we reach the end of the Festival, other than your own, are there any shows here that you think we must see while we can?
MO: You absolutely HAVE to see Ronny Chieng. He’s one of my favourite people to watch. I’ve genuinely seen his show at Underbelly Cowgate ten times, and I still enjoy it. Rhys Nicholson at Gilded Balloon Teviot is also great for a late night in-your-face hour of laughs, and Hedluv And Passman, also at Gilded Balloon, are my pick for a school night party vibe.

Matt Okine performed at Underbelly Bristo Square at Edinburgh Festival 2013.

LINKS: www.mattokine.com

Photo: Natalia Equihua