Ever fancied getting into comedy? Kettle Mag caught up with comedian and TV presenter Matt Richardson to chat about the industry and the advice he would give to those wanting to crack it. Matt recently spoke about his career journey for mobile network giffgaff’s ‘Happenings’, which aims to give young people the inside track about creative and interesting careers.
Have you always wanted to be a comedian?
I decided I wanted to be a comedian when I was 14. I watched a Jimmy Carr DVD with my friends and was totally blown away that making people laugh was this mans job. Ever since then, my dream was to be a comedian. I still can’t quite believe it worked out!
How did you get into comedy?
There was a comedy night at my university where people who’d never done it before could get up and do five minutes, so I emailed the organisers to ask for a gig. I hated Uni and wanted to take one positive experience from it – and I decided that would be it. I dropped out less than 18 months after that gig to be a pro comic – so my university facilitated the reason I never finished!
It is a well-known fact it is hard to break-out in the comedy world, For you, when was this moment?
Quite early on – I reached the finals of a couple of national stand up competitions that judge new talent. They were my first tiny break – however, any career in comedy is made up of a series of small breaks, not one ‘big’ moment where it all happens, as you have to build up a profile.
What tips would you give to other young budding comedians?
Gig as much as possible and write as much as possible. It’s not a closed art form, you don’t need any training or knowledge, just get up and give it a try!
Who are your comedy heroes? Who in the comedy world do you look up to most?
I love Greg Davies. His first stand-up show is the most I’ve ever enjoyed an hour of comedy. I love Pappy’s the sketch group and I think my very good friend Romesh Ranganathan is utterly brilliant.
Who has mentored you in your journey to becoming a professional comedian?
I don’t really have a mentor, I have some friends who I started out with at around the same time and we’ve all helped each other and grown along the way. David Morgan, Angela Barnes, Carly Smallman, Romesh Ranganathan are but a few!
For you, what has been your career highlight?
I have so many – I’ve had a few moments that have made me realise how lucky I am and how far I’ve come – being first class flying to New York on a filming job, watching the The Killers sound-check Mr Brightside in an empty Wembley arena at the X Factor Final, doing my own tour, selling out shows and selling out my hometown theatre. Those are moments I’ve stopped and thought “Crap! I only did my first gig to see if I was funny for 5 minutes, this is crazy!”
When you did your first stand-up routine, what was it like?
5th November 2009. I talked about my Uni and the fact it was my first gig. I was buzzing so much after that I couldn’t sleep all night.
Tell us your best one-liner joke
I don’t have many! One of my only ones is “my dad claims he slept with a playboy bunny, which I thought was bullshit until he went for an STI test and he had myxomatosis!”
What has been the worst/most awkward gig you have done?
There have been dozens. One of my tour shows went pretty badly and I died on stage for an hour and a half, which was not pleasant. Just before Christmas I did a gig and bombed the hardest I’d bombed in months.
You have co-presented Xtra Factor. What is it like being a presenter, especially on a major television show?
Presenting is really fun and for me it was refreshing working with a team of people (and co-hosting with Caroline Flack). I got a lot of creative freedom on Xtra Factor early on but as we hit the live shows it became very tightly timed and restrictive, which I found tricky as I was used to doing whatever I wanted for how long I wanted! I also learnt the hard way (cheers twitter trolls) that always going for the funniest thing you can say isn’t the way to be a good, generous presenter.
I do like presenting, and am glad I fell into it. Working on a show of that size is of course amazing – I’ve never felt so rock ‘n’ roll in my life – flying around the world, going to great places and meeting some incredibly brilliant people.
What is next for you?
I’m currently in LA having some meetings and working on a few bits – so hopefully I’ll be back out here this year doing more! I’m also writing my second tour show that I’m taking on the road in the autumn – so it’s pretty busy! I’ve also got a couple of TV projects, gigging, DJing, a series of live podcasts and more. I like to keep myself busy!
Where do you see yourself in a decade’s time?
I’m not entirely sure. I’m in a very different place to where I’d thought I’d be 5 years ago and I’ve branched into things I’d never even considered, I’ve done amazing things and there are still things left I want to do. In 10 years I hope whatever I’m doing I’m good at it and that I enjoy it. Or failing that retired on a beach with a dozen super models as wives.