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Everything is Okine

CATHERINE RHEA ROY
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PEOPLE Matt Okine was in India for the first time. He talks about comedy and being funny

Matt Okinephoto: Sampath Kumar G.P.
Matt Okinephoto: Sampath Kumar G.P.

“My first time I was really nervous, I hadn’t told anybody that I was doing it,” says Matt Okine, choosing to speak only in double entendres. He is pretty funny, pretty and funny. And he agrees. “I have always taken funny angles on things, and then I studied an acting degree and a lot of actors are very serious, but I enjoy the lighter side of life.” And if he had to choose between punch lines and theatrics, he would say that his humour is a bit of both, but if he had to measure it out on a scale, he says, “I am slightly more theatrical funny, but I still rely heavily on my writing.”

The comedian was in the city for the Oz Fest, a pan-Indian celebration of Australian culture and a band of comics travelled to cities with their comedy road show. The Australians are a funny lot, but for them the business is serious. Okine explains, “We are funny in a self-deprecating way, so it’s a good safeguard. Some people talk about other cultures and people, we are happy that the joke is on us. We also take a lot of pride in writing our own jokes; it’s like a little play where I have total control – I write it, perform it – I am responsible.”

If you thought heckling might be the worst thing to happen to a performer, Okine says, “No, the worst is when the audience is not listening. It is so annoying and it reminds me of my days in school where I wouldn’t pay attention in class, I can imagine now how tiresome it was.” But class work was not where his heart lay, he grew up wanting to be a performer, “I did not want to do IT or Science and when I lost my mum was when I found the courage to do what I want and focus on my dream,” says the comedian, in a moment of seriousness.

How often is he asked to say something funny? “All the time! They feel like what I do is so easy and I can do it off the top of my head and sometimes people are disappointed when they meet comics. What they don’t understand is that we appreciate serious conversation because that is how we find perspective, how we are able to look at the lighter side of things.”

His life at the moment is everything he ever dreamed about, “Travelling to different countries, meeting characters that feed into parts of my show, making observations. Good comedy is finding the difference in people that ironically make us all the same. For example, we all have traffic and we all have to deal with getting from one place to another. But the way you guys deal with traffic…” Okine is stumped for words before he concludes, “But that is normal here.”

CATHERINE RHEA ROY

The worst is when the audience is not listening. It reminds me of days in school where I wouldn’t pay attention in class

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