A Friendly Chat with Matthew Broussard

At midnight tonight, Comedy Central will be showcasing comedian Matthew Broussard’s first half hour special. This will coincide with the release of his album Pedantic by Comedy Central Records on the same day. Both are pretty amazing achievements in themselves but even more so when you realise that Broussard has only been performing stand up for five years. However, at just twenty-eight, Broussard has already gained some pretty major accolades in comedy. He has thrown pun-heavy shade alongside Jeff Ross (Ross is noted for talentspotting Amy Schumer), performed on Conan, and in 2012, was crowned Houston’s Funniest Person. This title is especially distinguished, considering that he had only lived in the city for two years at the time. On the eve of the eve of his comedy special premiere (aka Wednesday), I rang Broussard to get an insight into his upcoming show.

Understandably, Broussard is excited for the special. He is clearly a major fan of comedy in general, citing John Mulaney, Sean Patton and Hannibal Buress as some of his favourite stand ups. He loves how John Mulaney has mastered a style that “is so traditional it has transcended back into being inventive”. He was extremely impressed by Buress’ now infamous Bill Cosby routine. Burgess explains how “that set completely changed the way we looked at one of America’s previously most beloved characters in television. While rare, stand up can occasionally have that  type of power.”

Broussard grew up watching late night comedy as a kid, and this special represents a major milestone in his career. In our conversation, Broussard talked about how the show itself will be a culmination of his comedic career to date. He also promised that the show will cover a broad range of topics. Of this I have no doubt; having watched a number of Broussard’s performances online, he is extremely diverse in his material. From discussing physics to gynaecology to the true goals of CrossFit (low cholesterol and being able to have sex with the lights on); Broussard’s comedy provides a witty and stimulating take on everyday life.

One of the most likeable elements of Broussard’s comedy is his stand up persona. Like many comedians, on stage, Broussard plays an exaggerated version of himself. Given that Broussard (as self-described), shares his hairstyle and bone structure with “every villain you see in movies from the 80’s”, this would seem an awkward personality to embrace. However, while Broussard may continually refer to himself as a doucheabag on stage, it is clear throughout that this is a character and is not to be taken too seriously. Being able to poke fun at your own expense is a staple of comedy. Being able to do this in a unique way is even better and this is a skill that Broussard has truly mastered.

As Broussard explains, you cannot hold back or hide in comedy. If you have a noticeable trait or appearance that you know the audience will pick up on, acknowledge it. For the comedian, being genuine on stage is key. As he says himself has said “I take pride in being educated.  I can talk to girls.  I’m not amazing at it.  But I want to be as sincere as possible on stage.” Broussard describes his approach comedy as being the opposite to a job interview. The more flaws that you can point out in yourself, the more successful you will be.

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Born in Jersey and raised in Atlanta, Broussard only started performing comedy whilst working as a financial analyst in Houston. While admitting that his past profession did not particularly influence him creatively, Broussard found that working his writing around his other work schedule taught him a great deal about working to deadlines and coming up with ideas more quickly.

Outside of stand up, Broussard has plenty of unusual past times, which are equal parts bizarre and intriguing. Since the age of six, he has maintained the “frivolous activity” (his words, not mine) of sculpting figures in clay. The pieces Broussard sculpts are based on characters from his favourite TV shows and video games. This may just be a hobby for Broussard but it’s clear that many genuinely appreciate his art. He has even gained fans amongst some of the artists that he had previously been inspired by. A few years back, Broussard made a sculpture of the lovable, albeit seriously messed up Bojack Horseman. That piece now resides in the office of the television show’s artistic director. He also runs his own web comic, MondayPunday, which Broussard illustrates himself and updates every week. Each strip is a visual play on words puzzle, and which site visitors having the option to try and solve themselves. It’s a clever idea and a fun website but with some very tricky puzzles, so make sure to bring your a-game.

In conversation, Broussard is extremely funny but also very unassuming for someone who has experienced so much success in such a short timeframe. He had two pieces of advice for those considering a career in stand up. The first being; do it. In his own words, “waiting around will not make you funny”. The second tip he gave was to be gracious and to never feel entitled to anything. He clearly embraces this philosophy, mentioning at one point that every comedian is only as good as their last set.

While we were talking, he continually contributed his success to luck and good timing. He credits his big break being his winning of Houston’s Funniest Person which led to him getting a manager and being able to leave the world of finance for good. I finished our chat by asking if he would ever like to perform in Ireland. His response was that it had been a dream of his since being annihilated by Jimmy Carr during a roast a few years back. I’m fairly certain Carr’s mum is Irish, so I’ll left him off this once.

Main image via TeamCoco