By Gareth Mohen
BRISBANE raised comedian Matt Okine has been entertaining crowds for the past few weeks at Soho Theatre.
After a career as an actor and performing short sets of comedy, Okine recently launched his debut full-length stand up show
Being Black n Chicken n Shit to acclaim, winning the Best Newcomer award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
“Basically it’s about a lot of things,” he tells Australian Times.
“The central story focuses around a fishing trip I went on with my Dad. I also cover a lot of basics too. Dealing with annoying vacuum cleaners and toasters, and how to deal with an armed robbery situation.”
The show certainly offers all this and more, with a journey from some rather graphic tales through to a genuinely heart wrenching revelation at the climax of the show.
The jump between jokes and serious material is a result of Okine’s efforts to fill an hour of entertainment, compared to his usual short form comedy.
“You need to have ebbs and flows throughout so you gain momentum at the right times, otherwise undoubtedly by the 45 minute mark you just can’t focus that long.”
As Okine points out, in a day and age where you’re looking at something for 15 seconds and no longer, even an hour is unheard of.
“I was recently in Montreal and talking to these American comedians, telling them I was going to London with an hour long show. They were like, ‘An hour!? Why would you do stand up for an hour!?’”
The result of Okine’s comedy is a performance that shows his ability to be side-splittingly funny, as well as extremely poignant when required.
His love for his father is emphasised through the fishing trip story and he is quick to credit his father as a major source of his artistic inspiration.
“My Dad’s a funny cat. He’s a dentist. He’s a very scientific person. But I can tell under the hard scientist medical person that all he’s ever wanted to do is be an artist.
“There are heaps of great sculptures and African sort of carvings and paintings at home. He ran Brisbane’s only African nightclub for a while. He used to play in bands. He’s always been a sucker for the arts, and I think I’m his sort of outlet in a way.
Okine also pays homage to his heritage in his show, trying his hand at adopting the accent of his father to hilarious effect. “I love the way that my Dad talks. I think it is funny. I can never get his accent right though. He came over to Australia when he was twenty. He’s still got a really thick accent. But now when he goes back to Africa, people make fun of his accent for sounding so Australian.
“Yet Australians go, ‘What on Earth is my dentist saying?’. It’s bad enough when he’s going at people’s teeth he’s got a mask over his face let alone a thick accent. I think they just wait to hear the words ‘Ah’, and that’s it.”
While Matt was working hard performing in London, he also spent time checking out the action up in Edinburgh, although sometimes at the expense of viewing the Olympics. He was also mad on the food in the Soho area, and was often to be found catching a sneaky feed down at Princi.
Matt Okine’s web series The Future Machine can be found at: Thefuturemachine.tv/