That Time I Bombed is where the Straight asks comedians about their life-changing shows, favourite comedy albums, and, a subject that any comedian will face at some point in their career, a time that they bombed on stage.
Who are you
Wow, super tough question off the top.
My name is Gavin Matts. I do a lot of standup comedy and I don’t usually like telling people that because people say annoying things. There’s this lady at my day job who loves to say, “Well, aren’t you a comedian?” and it makes me want to die.
I live in an apartment with my (also funny) roommate, Sophie Buddle. We run a cool show together in Chinatown that you should come to. Other than that, I’m super complicated and I have trouble being concise when describing myself.
First standup experience
I grew up with YouTube and I was a kid when Russell Peters really, really blew up.
I was at my friend Lucas's house when his dad showed us Russell Peters's “Do The Right Thing” bit. The accents, to a 10-year-old's ears, were hilarious.
We would all do Russell’s bits at school during recess—just acting them out or heckling teachers with them. It was huge for our culture.
Life-changing comedy show
I went to see Aziz Ansari at the Orpheum in 2012. It was the day after I graduated high school, so it was the first live comedy show I had ever been to.
I liked Aziz, but just thought it would be cool to see standup in person. I had no idea what to expect.
At the start of the show, a lady walked onstage. It was none other than Chelsea Perretti. I didn’t know there were openers and I had no idea who she was. She absolutely crushed. I still don’t think I’ve laughed harder watching standup and I couldn’t stop thinking about her set the whole time Aziz was on.
She made it a dream of mine to want to open for someone at the Orpheum. (Hopefully, the Orpheum sees this juicy plug and vouches for me.)
Top three comedy specials/albums
My Name is Hannibal — Hannibal Burress This is the first standup album I had ever listened to and it made Hannibal my favorite comic. I first saw Hannibal in 2009 on an episode of Jon Dore’s Funny as Hell that I would stay up to watch.
I watched that set so many times. The next day, I YouTube'd him and this whole album was on there. It’s cool to go back and listen to it because he used to talk super slow compared to his style now.
Medium Energy — Todd Barry There’s a moment half way through this album where Todd thinks he got heckled and he stops and says, “Did someone just heckle me? With the cameras rolling? 'Camera’s rolling.' Look at me, I’m even using the lingo”.
I love that moment because his pacing doesn’t change from his delivery. It just makes all his thoughts seem that much more genuine.
Drew Michael — Funny to Death This was my favorite album of 2016. Drew is the most woke comic I’ve listened to and you should check this one out.
All-time favourite joke or bit
“I saw a commercial on late night TV. It said, 'Forget everything you know about slip covers.' So I did. And it was a load off my mind. Then the commercial tried to sell me slip covers and I didn’t know what the hell they were.” —Mitch Hedberg
Something you saw that made you laugh but probably shouldn’t have
I was forced to go to church on Sundays as a kid and my friend poured water on the pew in front of us and a old lady sat in it.
She had the funniest wet stain and tried to pretend like she didn’t just sit in water. I guess I shouldn’t have laughed at that because, well, elder abuse.
That time I bombed
I save all my sets to my old laptop, so I listened to this one to refresh my memory. Oh boy, did I ever bomb!
I was a year in, just coming off my first-ever road gig and I got a bit cocky. I decided that my next set would be done with NO SETLIST. The only problem besides that being the dumbest decision of my life is that it was at Graham Clark’s show, Laugh Gallery, at Havana. Oh, and it was sold out.
The set was eight minutes of pandering to complete and utter silence. I never thought I’d be able to use “complete and utter silence” and mean it. The set was supposed to be seven minutes, but I was doing so badly that I was just stuck to the stage and that’s when a comedian slow-clapped me offstage.
I took the next day off work to re-evaluate my life and, for some reason, watched Requiem for a Dream, which was probably the worst movie to watch in a time of need.
Two days after that set, I faced the whole comedy community, who had talked about that set, and I got over it. It made me realize that bombing is sometimes necessary to keep you focused.
Also, nothing will ever be as bad as that, so it doesn’t worry me anymore.
Gavin Matts will be MCing the Comedy Mix with headliner Brent Morin from January 12 to 14, 2017. Follow him on Twitter @gavinmatts, visit his website, and pick up tickets to his show, Barely Legal, on February 17 as part of JFL NorthWest.