From the outside, it seems like Matt Okine has achieved so much in the Australian comedy scene in a miniscule amount of time – having won Best Newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2012, sold out shows in 2013, and recently supported Dave Chappelle, he now co-hosts triple j breakfast. However, Okine has actually taken a very old-school approach to his stand-up, spitting gags onstage at clubs for roughly eight years before performing his first solo show.
“That’s the crazy thing, I started in 2004 just doing the club scene for ages,” Okine says. “It really took me a long time to build up the courage and determination to do a solo show in 2012. It was one of those things where it was eight years in the making, which is why I guess it was fairly good,” he laughs. “I wasn’t really focusing on stand-up. I was trying to be a serious actor and it’s only since I’ve started to focus on comedy that it’s starting to pay off.
“It’s pretty surprising, I guess. It was easy for me to start getting all negative about it all or feeling underappreciated, but I keep telling myself, ‘You’ve gotta be in it to win it,’ and I kept plugging away and doing my thing and all of a sudden it’s started to pay off.
“I guess this show is gonna be more about some of the mistakes I made in those eight years I was seemingly doing nothing, and some of the reasons why it took so long to get in the position where I could finally utilise my opportunities now. While I also said I was kinda making TV pilots, I was also being a 20-year-old dickhead who was stuffing up a fair bit. I guess I just talk about life’s stuff-ups and what you can learn from them, really.”
I don’t really know what it’s like to have a real job, but I imagine one of the few upsides is that you’re awake early enough to listen to Matt And Alex on triple j. I wonder how Okine has coped with some of the challenges of his new job.
“Yeah dude, it’s not easy, I’ll tell you that much,” he laughs. “I used to go to bed at 2am every morning, and now I’m up two hours after that. That’s certainly been the biggest learning curve. Even on the weekends, [I’d] head out and not get home in bed until 4am and then I’d wake up on a Saturday morning at 11:30am or something, and that’s when I’m now finishing work. Every single weekend and beginning of each week is like I’ve just caught a plane halfway from around the world and I’ve gotta readapt to the time.”
It was only about a year and a half ago when Okine almost stole the show opening for comedian Aziz Ansari (Parks And Recreation; I Love You, Man). Just a few weeks ago, Okine supported comedy legend Dave Chappelle – one of the highlights of his career so far.
“Those gigs were incredible, man. It’s not often that you genuinely get to be in the same room as someone who you looked up to for ten years and [is] a genuine idol of mine. I was awestruck because I was just fanboying out so hard. Every single thing I did I’d be like, ‘God, was that a stupid thing to do? Should I have said that?’ Even he’d walk in and I’d be like, ‘Oh, hey Dave,’ and then I’d think, ‘Should I have said, ‘Hey Dave,’ or should I have said, ‘Hi Dave,’ or should I have said, ‘What’s up Dave? What’s goin’ on, man?’’ So ridiculous.”