Passing by Four comedians who were in town as part of the Oz Fest spoke of the serious business of being funny

What works for brothers and comedians Nick and Ben Mattick? “We find each other funny,” they say in one voice. “We grew up watching the same things, so that helps,” adds Ben, 26 and the younger of the two. “We would watch it on the television and say I reckon we could do that.”

They stemmed from other creative arts, Ben is a musician and Nick is an actor and when they joined forces and wrote the result was a musical, laugh riot. “We are a little silly, a little rude and most of the entertainment lies in watching idiot brothers argue. We do some music, some comedy and argue with each other on stage about which one of our dad’s is better,” says Nick

Their writing is never definite and a lot of their ideas are improvised on stage, “We are definitely better performers, it’s like listening to a joke with music playing in the background,” says Nick. “And sometimes,” continues Ben, “It is a funny song, where we rhyme and say funny things and sing it. If people don’t like it they can just tune out.”

For four years they have entertained crowd across Australia, “Four years of up’s and down’s,” says Nick with a straight face. And speaking of low points, Nick and Ben are jointly vehement about hen’s nights and buck nights, “Actually, anytime there has been too much of alcohol things start to get out of control. And the thing about bad nights is that as the night progresses it gets worse, you really cannot stop it.”

And while the music is an added advantage for them, it also makes their efforts more challenging, “Others would say that it is easier, it makes story telling easier,” explains Ben, “But writing a whole song with rhyme is way harder, it needs to be very structural.”

Nick Mattick and Ben Mattick were in the city for the Oz Fest, an ongoing celebration of Australian culture in India. Cal Wilson and Harley Breen, were also at the Oz Fest.

When asked what she finds entertaining in India, Cal’s eyes gleam as she smiles. “I find it funny how strange autos look. And, like most foreigners, I am terrified crossing the streets! I was also taken aback at how suddenly 24 moustachioed men go out of their way to serve you.”

Cal’s views are echoed by Harley: “India is a big cultural shock in a good way. The sheer population of the city here is the same as the country I grew up in. Also, there is an annihilation of the senses, thanks to the variation in sights, sounds and tastes.”

Cal speaks on how she adjusted in a new country and what it means to compete as a woman comedian in a male-dominated field. “New Zealand is a more feminist country than Australia. Australia is bold and brash, New Zealand shy and retiring. I grew up feeling strongly about women’s rights. When I came to India, I was excited to see so many women stand-up comics.”

But she doesn’t think that there is much difference between men and women’s humour. “The only difference, perhaps, is that women haven’t known that they are allowed to be funny,” she adds.

Cal doesn’t like cruel humour. She prefers to include everyone in enjoying a good laugh. “I want the whole room to be unified.”

Harley too feels strongly about social issues, having worked on creating awareness on safe sex and right to consent apart from working on some education projects.

He describes his comedy as introspective. “It may look mainstream,” he says, “but it is subversive”. The narrative in stand-up comedy appeals to him.

“I take me to wherever I am. I am the act, and I keep my performance as natural as possible.” Harley has performed in many countries, and he finds that sometimes the audience can’t understand his accent. That hasn’t happened in India, though. It has in London. Harley throws up his hands, saying: “They didn’t understand what I was saying!”

As for those who get offended easily by humour, Harley says: “That’s okay. I won’t be offended if you are offended.”

CATHERINE RHEA ROY

SRAVASTI DATTA

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