by Ryan Meehan
Matt O’Brien is a Toronto-based comedian who has been featured on MTV, Fuse TV, MuchMusic and The Comedy Network. He has won the Best Standup award at the LA Comedy Festival and has been named Sirius XM Radio’s Next Top Comic. He hosts and films his own late night talk show, his 6-second Vine sketches have garnered him over 15,000 followers, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What was the first standup comedy show that you ever saw live and what about the whole experience was so intriguing to you? Was it more the reaction from the crowd that interested you or the way the performer had control over the audience?
MOB: honestly my first live stand up show was the amateur night I was about to perform on. I’d always been interested in comedy but I never really knew where to see it live- I’d watch it online, DVD’s, TV all the time but it only occurred to me to see it live when I wanted to try it myself. Any comedian will tell you the same thing the first big laugh you get is the greatest feeling in the world, once I got a big laugh I knew I didn’t want to do anything else.
RM: Could you briefly describe your podcast “Rehash” and explain to us how it differs from the other comedy podcasts currently available on iTunes? When can a comedian tell if he or she has a Twitter problem/addiction?
MOB: Well it’s not HUGELY different from any other podcast out there to be honest haha- but it is the only podcast that I know about that focuses on how comedians and entertainers use social media specifically. It’s hard not to talk shop with other comedians when doing a podcast but eventually I try to steer the interview to more social media based questions and by also taking questions that are tweeted in by listeners. I’ve also added a segment at the end of every episode where the guest tells their best “online beef” story, because every comedian has been shit on in one way or another on some form of social media and they always make for a good story.
RM: What is it about the Vine format that you are so comfortable with? Did you fall in love with the app right away or did it take some time for you to realize its full potential as far as broadcasting your comedy?
MOB: I really did love it right out of the gates. I’ve always wanted to do sketch comedy but organizing a group of people, cast members, camera people, editing it- it’s a disaster. I love to do things myself and with Vine I can think of an idea, film it, edit it, and post it all in a few minutes and it’s all me- I don’t have to depend on anyone it all depends on how much effort I put forth. I just love how easy it is, the loops make it fun, I love quick funny things.
RM: You host your late night show on a subway…As you get further along and film more episodes, are you worried that could go south really fast and put you in a dangerous situation? Would you use the same format if you lived in Brooklyn? What’s the most unusual thing that you’ve seen while travelling Toronto’s mass transit system and do you ever think that something similar will happen while you’re filming your show?
MOB: I’m happy I started it in Toronto, I was recently in San Francisco and I was going to film some in their subway system but Toronto’s really does feel the safest. Everyone on the subway cars are very supportive, once people figure out what’s happening they watch and laugh with the show, that’s why I want a second camera showing “audience reaction” because people really are watching it live…but they’re also polite about it (classic Canada)…last episode I filmed, people on the car were watching and when new people would enter the subway car they would shush them and say things like “quiet they’re filming a show” and then the new people would sit down and watch…it’s surreal…I guess people are sick of just staring at their phones on the subway.
RM: Speaking of Canada, are there any fundamental differences between American audiences and crowds that attend Canadian comedy clubs? And what advice would you have for features or headliners that are from the States as far as what material to avoid because it might be considered too tacky or stereotypical?
MOB: The more I travel back and forth the more common both audiences seem…I used to think Americans were a tough laugh but then Canadians can be too…I don’t think you can seperate it between American and Canadian audiences because every audience anywhere is different regardless….I’ve preformed in Montana where they were very similar to Edmonton or small towns in Ontario…and LA is similar to some Toronto audiences…I don’t think theres anything specific to avoid when playing shows in Canada just be funny, Canadian audiences like all audiences appreciate funny.
RM: You started a new blog series where you Google a random word and write 1000 words about the first picture that comes up under “images”. Based on what you’ve learned in the short time that you’ve done this, are some pictures not really worthy of a thousand words? If you turned your “safe search” off, what direction do you think that blog could be headed in?
MOB: Well I’ve only done one so far but I’m confident every picture is at least a thousand words…which is easy if you’re good at rambling on about nothing and everything all at the same time. I DO turn the safe search off and I’m yet to see a dick or butt or boobs when I type in the word “spatula” …but it’s the internet so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a dick, butt, and boom spatula porno super site.
RM: If you had never heard of standup comedy and you lived in a world where it didn’t exist, what type of creative outlet other than writing would you turn to in order for you to maintain your sanity and why? Do you think that you’d make a good adult film director?
MOB: wow the second part of that question came out of left field…I’ll answer that first because its the weirdest part of the question…no I wouldn’t because I wouldn’t be able to take it seriously…naked butts and balls flapping around and ME telling them how and where to put things…that’s too much pressure. If there wasn’t standup I’d probably just to acting….or maybe some other kind of entertainment…something to entertain crowds…circus?….bingo, I’d be in the circus. Lots of travel, meeting new people, and it’d be hilarious to tell people you “ran away to join the circus” for real.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
MOB: Filming more subway talk shows, more stand up, I’m recording a new album at Tall Boys bar in Toronto on March 13th, more touring, filming more sketches, I’m constantly trying to maximize everything I do so just check in with me every other day and you’ll probably see a new thing I’m working on.
Official Website: http://www.mattobriencomedy.com/
Matt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/matt_obrien
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