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May 11, 2021

Interview with Matt Okine

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Matt Okine is just one comedian featured in this Triple Bill

Matt Okine, Nick Cody & Dan Willis

Mullum Ex-Services  |  Friday 4 October  |  8pm  |  $25/30

When I first met Matt Okine he was doing open mic’s. That’s a beginner comic’s life. In the 10 or more years since I saw his humble beginning, Matt has found his way to national and international acclaim, proving that a Ghanian boy from Brisbane can capture the zeitgeist in a unique and fabulous way. It’s something that still surprises Matt, who admits to living in what he calls ‘a ridiculous freelance mentality’.

It’s the cross of most self-employed artists. ‘We are all terrified we will never work again, and despite years and years of consistent work you still think you can do everything!’

Okine says this while reflecting on the birth of his first baby, which coincided with the filming of the second season of The Other Guy (with subscription service Stan), and his debut novel Being Black ’N Chicken and Chips being due. He had at that time walked away from his job hosting one of the country’s most popular breakfast shows on Triple J. To manage the workload, Okine realised he could only do one thing at a time; ‘So I thought from 1–5 I will think about the show, from 9–11 I will write the book, and when we go to the birthing class I won’t think about the show or the god damn book… it was a really intense time, now they are all done and I have been able to spend the last six months with my daughter and partner and bask in that newborn glow. I am a second child and I just realised my parents could not have felt the same about me as they did with my older sister!’

Having kids has changed Okine in ways he didn’t expect.

‘I care about kids now – I never liked kids before – if I saw a kid in a cafe or restaurant I’d go “oh no!”, now I see them and smile at them. I was at the Gold Coast on the day of the Logies, I saw a couple taking their newborn baby for a dip and I was like “how’s it going? First swim?” I have turned into that weirdo who approaches strangers and starts yapping away about their kid. I don’t have a kid with me so they don’t know I have a kid. I am just that weirdo!’

Matt also admits to saying things he’s never said before ‘like when we spent four days at Elements of Byron and I said to my partner – I am so glad your mum is holidaying with us.’

For Matt, what pushed him ahead of his colleagues was moving away from club comedy and creating new shows.

‘I fell into a big hole as a club comedian and there’s nothing to force you to generate new jokes. When I started having to write my full length shows, people have a lot more to hang on to. This is a long career – a lot of comedians and actors make the mistake of thinking if they aren’t world famous by 23 then it’s over – so they stop working and they stop creating content, which is the thing that sells. I was 27 when I started doing full-length stand up and had been doing comedy for 8 years. I won an award in Melbourne and then in Edinburgh and I was suddenly supporting Dave Chapelle, and people from Triple J and Channel 9 they go to the show, and then I get the call to host Triple J breakfast… I thought I was too old! The biggest thing I have learned was how diverse the audience is in this country and how important it is to be inclusive rather than exclusive.’

For Matt, being successful in his industry is simple.

‘I live by a three rule system – 1.You have to be pretty funny, but you don’t have to be the funniest person, 2.You need to respond to emails. People are often hopeless at that! And 3.Don’t be a dickhead! It will guarantee you work.’

Although Matt’s work crosses genres; from author to actor to broadcaster to series writer and to rapper, he identifies as a comedian. ‘Comedy permeates everything I do, whether it’s the written word or on a screen. I use humour mostly to get my point across – I refuse to shy away from the serious nature of comedy as well. I love stand up – it’s still my number one job’.

Matt Okine is one of the featured comics at the stand up comedy triple header at the Mullum Ex-Services on Friday 4 October, along with Nick Cody (from the Conan O’Brien show and Comedy Central), and Dan Willis fresh from the UK with international touring show The Best of Brits. Show is at 8pm.

Tix are $25/30 – mandynolan.com.au or at the club.

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