Watch out Banksy, Sydney comedian Matt Okine has been funding the anti graffiti movement for some time now, Cereal. But when this facially gifted comedian hangs up his anti graffiti vigilante gloves (?) he insists his 5 day plan includes a dose of ‘deal or no deal’. It’s obvious however, from his sold out shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Fest that there is a little bit more to the schedule. Matt Okine talks about the difficulty of eating bagels in the womb, the current trends in comedy, and the increasing on stage tension with his hip hop hype-man, Dinnertime Duke.
When did you first start comedy? Where was your first gig, and how did it go?
My first gig was the first heat of RAW Comedy 2004. I was 18. I told two of my friends to come because I wanted a lift to the gig so I could have a few drinks to relieve the nerves. Not that I needed it. I won my heat, because I am a BOSS.
You have been living in Sydney for a few years now, what is the difference between the Brisbane comedy scene and the Sydney scene?
I feel like there’s a better sense of community in the Brisbane scene. When I first moved to Sydney, I felt like it was ‘every man for himself’, but I’ve since grown to really like all the people I work with. Sydney’s just bigger, so you don’t get to know everyone for quite a while.
You’ve recently sold out shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Fest, what was the highlight for you?
Seeing audiences grow over the run has been awesome. Also – getting to hang out with heaps of cool comics is always a pleasure. Lots of late nights. Although with great nights comes great depression in the mornings…
You received numerous stellar reviews for your show ‘Being Black & Chicken & S#&t’, and one thing every reviewer seems to agree on is your great facial expressions, so, have you always had a face? I joke, but how important do you think it is for the audience to like you, and your general stage persona?
I remember when I first developed my face about 5 months into my mum’s pregnancy. It was such a great day. Before then it was very difficult to eat bagels. And since then I’ve grown to use it quite a lot in my comedy. Performance technique is a very big part of my show, and some would argue that I use it to ‘sell’ jokes that aren’t necessarily worth their value. To those people, I say (raises eyebrow)….. Hmmm, maybe they have a point.
Did you notice any popular themes being discussed either on stage or off stage by comedians?
Gay marriage is a big one. So is racism. A lot of people talking about racism at the moment. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Matt, you only notice people talking about racism because you’re black.” Well, That’s racist, you racist racist!
What do you do as a comedian to try and capture the funny, for example, I heard a comedian once say that he reads 7 different newspapers to try and drum up some ideas. Is that what you’re doing? Reading 7 newspapers a day?
I don’t think I’ve read 7 newspapers ever, ever. I usually just sit in my lounge room and look out the window until something interesting pops into my head. Or at least until ‘Deal Or No Deal’ comes on.
How would you describe your style of comedy?
Observational with a bit of story-telling.
What projects are you currently working on at the moment?
I’m currently writing my third solo show for the Sydney Comedy Festival, and then I plan to release a most fully-sick hip-hop mixtape. It will be so sick you will probably need to quarantine yourself once you’ve heard it. Soz.
Do you have a 5 year plan?
When I was 20-years-old, my 5 year plan concluded with me obtaining my first Academy Award. Since none of those things happened, I try to focus more on having a solid and obtainable 5 day plan.
A close source tells me that once upon a time you were the main driving force behind a high school boy band, are there any plans to try and reunite? Maybe perform at your 10 year high school anniversary?
Did that close source also tell you that we won the high school talent competition and then donated our prize money back to the school to repaint some of the buildings that had been hit by spray-painting vandals?? Well we did. Because we are BOSSES.
And there will be no performance at our 10-year reunion, because lightning never strikes the same place twice.
You are performing in a hip hop duo though, the boilermakers, with long time friend Dinnertime Duke, are there any upcoming gigs? And do you have any rivalry/tensions with other hip hop duos?
The only tension I have is when we do gigs, and all the groupies wanna get on Dinnertime’s knutz, and not give any love to Disco (that’s me).
And what is the best way for people to keep up to date with your gigs and hip hop happenings?
Facebook (/mattokine) and Twitter (@mattokine). #cereal
Do yourselves a favour and catch Matt on the way up, whether this is by relentlessly stalking, pursuing and mentioning him on twitter, or just by catching one of his new solo shows in Sydney. You will not be disappointed, critics and comedy enthusiasts can’t get enough of Matt’s jokes, so this is one bandwagon that is safe to jump onboard. Because those things can be dangerous.