Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in stand-up?
Matt Nightingale: I’ve been doing stand-up for about 2 and a half years, now, and I’ve written and performed for a local Winnipeg website/late night television show called Week Thus Far for the last year.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Matt Nightingale: I’d describe my approach as observational, perhaps (whatever that means), and my performance as animated. I like to pop my face and use weird voices in my visuals.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Matt Nightingale: Stylistically, Brian Regan has been my biggest influence. As far as content goes, I really admire Louis CK (who doesn’t, really?), David Cross, Eugene Mirman, Hannibal Buress, Matt Braunger, and a comic from Edmonton, Canada named Sean Lecomber.
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Matt Nightingale: It was always sort of in the back of my head, but until my mid 20s I focused most of my spare time on political activism. I didn’t start thinking about stand-up seriously until I was about 25, and I didn’t get on stage until I was 28 (though I had already been keeping a notebook for three years). The real catalyst, though, was when I discovered that there is a Christian singer/song-writer who shares my name. From then on I vowed to overtake him as the world’s most famous Matt Nightingale, and stand-up seemed the best way, as becoming a cult leader has sort of gotten a bad rap of late. We’ve met on Twitter, so he’s well aware of me and my intentions. Every now and then I like to send him a tweet to let him know I’m still here, like a leopard in the night stalking back and forth at the village gates. Speaking of which…
Okay, I’m back.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Matt Nightingale: I can’t really just sit and write at a computer. A thought usually just comes to me, and I have to sit and think about it, and try to articulate my thoughts. I try to step back from a situation or a conversation and ask ‘who, what, when, where,’ and most importantly, ‘why’. I like to look at the things in life that strike me as weird, like the way humans act in certain situations, or the institutions that we take for granted, and postulate dubious theories or project quasi-logical conclusions. I kind of think good comedy is bad theory. Or, who knows?
Comedy Blogedy: Do you gig as a stand-up full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
Matt Nightingale: I’m an aspiring full-time comedian. My job has influenced my material in that I hate it, and that makes me want to write better and better jokes, so that when I grow up I can tell them that I hate them, and become a real-life comedian instead of a poopy-panted warehouse guy. But I don’t really talk about working in a warehouse. Neither has my political interests really found their way into my material, except as an ethical compass.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Matt Nightingale: I love the adventure of it all! You can only be a comedian by DOING it, so every step is an uncertain one, but you’re learning as you go, and battling it out alongside other comics who are going through the same experiences. It’s a beautiful struggle, and I love it. The most frustrating thing is learning that your success is not based solely on your ability to write and perform. There’s a whole networking/schmoozing aspect that you cannot really avoid if you’re wanting to move forward and get gigs. I’ve never really been good at, or comfortable with, that whole side of things. I’m a bit of an introvert. FULL DISCLOSURE: I have definitely watched “how to schmooze” tutorials on YouTube.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Matt Nightingale: I can’t say that I have a preferred demographic. So long as they care, I’m glad to be there. I prefer to have a room full of strangers. They have no qualms letting you know what’s funny and what’s not because they don’t care about your feelings like your friends and family do.
Comedy Blogedy: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started gigging? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
Matt Nightingale: Yup, a few times, and I can’t say that I’ve ever enjoyed it. I once had a guy throw water balloons at me while performing. The weird thing is that he is a friendly acquaintance, and was a member of the group who invited me to perform for their staff party.
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking about starting out in comedy?
Matt Nightingale: 1) As cliche as it sounds, just DO IT! I promise you it will be the best decision you’ve ever made. Every comic has one regret: that they didn’t start earlier. 2) For your first set, own it. Be a comedian. Don’t say, “this is my first time”, or “this might not be funny”. Don’t do inside jokes for your friends, and don’t deflect attention away from you and on to your friends who’ve come to support you. Own it! It’ll be tough, but it’s supposed to be.
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