Comic Matt Rees doesn’t have a day job as such
“I suppose I do write in my time off. It’s not what I spend most of my time doing, but you can’t just put ‘x-box’ can you?” Matt’s days may be on the sedate side, but his evenings certainly aren’t.
Dressed in a black t-shirt and sipping a pint of cider, most people wouldn’t guess that this seemingly unimposing figure is a rising star on the Welsh comedy circuit. The winner of this year’s Welsh Unsigned Stand-Up Award (WUSA), Matt has turned his natural dry wit and self-effacing humour towards the comedy stage.
“Winning the award has made me try harder and gig more,” he says. “I was trying to do one gig a week before, and not always doing that. I’m doing six out of seven nights this week.”
Getting into comedy
Surprisingly, the 21 year old from the Welsh town of Maesteg, near Bridgend, has only been on the comedy scene for eighteen months, “I only started gigging properly in March 2011. Before that I’d only done about four gigs.”
A former psychology student, Matt decided to pick up the microphone after witnessing a student comedy night. “I saw someone die on his arse in my student union. It was just seeing somebody who was very trial and error and a couple of months later, I had a go myself.”
Matt is a lifelong comedy fan who grew up watching DVD’s of his comedy idol, Jack Dee. Like Dee, Matt spends a lot of time and effort on his routine, planning his running order in advance. “I’ve got it all set before I go on but if it’s going badly or it’s a bit weird, I do edit in my head.”
In the list of things that could go badly during a comedy set, the heckler would probably feature in the top ten. Matt has found a unique (if unadvisable) way of dealing with their taunts. “I kicked a heckler a couple of weeks ago,” he laughs. “He was really drunk and it was obvious I had to give him some attention just so he would shut up, and he did for a bit, but then he sort of recharged. He wasn’t even trying to offend me, he was just shouting out unintelligible sentences. So those were his first two chances and on the third, I went over and kicked him (jokingly) in the knee. He seemed to understand then.”
“Comedy is in right now”
The Cardiff comedy scene has boomed in recent years and Matt is right at its heart “It’s been like a mini-golden age around the Cardiff area,” says Matt. “I think that right now, Cardiff as a mini-scene (in terms of concentration of good acts) is the best in the UK.”
Matt thinks the boom in Cardiff mirrors the popularity of the UK comedy scene as a whole. “Comedy is in right now. I think we’re the first generation who can realistically do comedy for a living. There are people now who do make a crust out of it, where as a few years ago, that wasn’t happening.”
Although anyone would expect him to be riding high on his success, Matt’s natural modesty prevents him from speculating too much on his future career. He was recently approached about gigging professionally but turned down the offer as he felt he wasn’t ready to tackle full professional sets.
“I’m still not sure I can do it yet,” he confides. “You’ve met me at a weird point because I’m not having fun a lot of the time on stage. It probably could be fixed if I was trying out more new material. I get nerves a lot of the time, so I tend to do my tried and tested. You can’t do the same stuff all the time, or you will bore yourself.” “With new material, about a minute before you go on stage you do think ‘What was I thinking?’ ” he adds.
Even though he is currently unsure what his comedy future holds, success is already knocking at his door. As part of his WUSA prize, he is due to play three weekend slots at the Cardiff Glee Club between the 17 and 19 of November, sharing the bill with four professional comedians: no doubt boosting his reputation even further.
Matt’s focus turns to the gig he’s about to perform at a local comedy night and how he can best entertain the crowd. His latest plan involves playing games with the audience and rewarding them with Maltesers. “We’ll see, depending on how many pints I have.”
In case you were wondering, Matt did manage to work his new idea into his set.