Published in The Music (WA, SA, NSW, VIC, QLD) and on theMusic.com.au, Feb-Apr 2015
Stepping back from “superficial jokes”, triple j star/comedian Matt Okine tells Daniel Cribb why he was scared to perform his new material at first.
If you saw Matt Okine doing stand-up comedy in 2014, you were probably delivered a healthy amount of “killer bread jokes” and observational pieces on the trials of sharehouse living.
That material was penned when the breakfast co-host was still adjusting to his new position and figuring out his life in the spotlight. A year into the job and a lot has changed for Okine. While he was hosting a carefree and fun on-air attitude, things were a little more hectic behind the scenes. “I’m in a different position now,” Okine tells. “I’ve broken up with my long-term girlfriend, I am getting more comfortable in my job, and I am also starting to enjoy being able to afford little extra things in life. Like, I can fill my petrol tank up every time… every one of my shows is where I’m at a particular stage. A lot of things can happen in a year.”
But the luxury of a full tank of petrol comes at a price. An increased presence in the public arena also meant a rise in hatred and hurtful comments, something that Okine still struggles to simply shrug off. “It never stops hurting,” he admits. “I started work the other day at 6am and the very first text that came in just said, ‘Shut up, Matt. You’re not funny. Piss off.’ Imagine if you walked through the door of your work and the first thing you were told was, ‘Mate, shut up, you’re shit. Get outta here.’ It feels kind of weird. You either have to get upset by it or you have to start embracing it, and I’ve learned that being divisive is a lot better than being ignored.”
While his previous shows have been done in retrospect, the new show, The Other Guy, focuses on the present. And dealing with such hatred and a hectic 12 months has helped Okine open up more on stage. “It’s a really full on show, and I’ve done a few trials and people have come up to me afterwards and been like, ‘Holy shit. You say a lot of deep stuff in the show, and then manage to keep it funny.’ And that is something that I am exploring, being funny and being light-hearted but, I think I’ve moved past just doing superficial jokes and I want to talk about things that people wouldn’t often talk about on stage. I want to bring that sort of honesty to my shows because I just can’t joke about vacuum cleaners forever.
“I’ve kind of got to do what I’m scared of because that’s the stuff that people really connect with… When I say something that scares me, that I am scared to reveal about myself, all it is telling me is that there must be a million other people who are going through something like this who are also too scared to say it. I feel like it’s my duty, as someone with a microphone, to talk about things that other people might be going through.”