Interview: Matthew Broussard, sculptor, comedian, boat shoes
VICTORY! The battlefield, commonly referred to as “Houston’s Comedy scene”, is freshly littered with the destroyed entrails of his opponents… and now, Matthew Broussard, is all alone. Newly crowned “Houston’s Funniest Person Contest” winner, Broussard stands with some of Houston’s finest comedians, such as: Ben Mowbray, Altimore Fields and Robin Weinburgh (yeah, me neither). What’s a bit more fascinating is that Broussard, a youthful 24 years of age, won this competition of comedy on the one year anniversary of his first open mic performance.
Hailing from all over but mostly Atlanta, this Rice University graduate of applied mathematics first caught my attention at Fitzgerald’s Open Mic Knight (a thing I do on Wednesdays) when he took the stage and said, “A lot of people say I’m cocky. But I’m not cocky. I just have a lot going for me.” And his appearance suggested he wasn’t lying… especially in comparison to most other comics in Houston. Broussard is fit and healthy, wears collared shirts, speaks intelligently. Though I must admit, after his first performance I thought his stage persona was so real that the next Wednesday when he came to Open Mic Knight at Fitzgerald’s (2706 White Oak) I rudely introduced him as “Washington Avenue Incarnate.” Rightly so, he didn’t speak to me the rest of that evening. Since then he taken his comedic career to exciting places in Houston, not limited to the Houston’s Funniest Person Contest. Broussard has also performed at A Couple of Stand Up Guys showcase back in May and recently traveled on the road for the first time.
So, in the ugly face of a deadline as usual, I grabbed Matthew Broussard for an interview while at Avant Garden, where he was performing long form improv for the first time with The New Movement Houston. Here are some excerpts from that interview:
M-M: When you remove the competitive nature of the Houston’s Funniest Person Contest, all that remains is a month long showcase of Houston comics, which is great for the scene and the city. But the fact is that it is a competition. How does that set with you?
Broussard: That’s frustrating. It’s an art form and you’re trying to express yourself; not win.
M-M: And some of those people are your friends…
Broussard: Those are my most favorite people in the world and by the end of the competition I couldn’t watch other people perform… because I wanted them to fail. But at the same time they were people I liked and I wanted to see them succeed. So, yeah, it was frustrating.
M-M: What’s your impression of the comedy scene in Houston right now?
Broussard: So I wandered in as all of the comedy clubs had closed down. We now only have two left (the Houston Improv and The Comedy Showcase). And it makes the open mic scene that much more… I would say it increases the enthusiasm for open mic because it’s the only thing we have. So all these people are so enthusiastic. And we’re told from the start, “Do as many open mics as you can. Get as much stage time as you can.” So we’re all out here just grindin’. Just going to crappy little bars with eight people in them- just to get stage time. I love it. There’s so much hustle. And hopefully, this increase in enthusiasm will bring more love for comedy in Houston and then another club will open up.
M-M: How many open mics do you perform at per week?
Broussard: Maybe 4 or 5 or 6 during the week. And then maybe, hopefully, I’ll get a club spot on a weekend.
M-M: Have you traveled outside of Houston for a show yet?
Broussard: Two weeks ago I went to Paris, TX opening up for Slade Ham, which was an awesome experience.
M-M: Did you ride in the car together?
Broussard: We did. No AC.
Broussard: Hell yeah. It was just a taste of it for me; but some these guys do it all the time. I might get to go to New Orleans soon. The road is an interesting place too. You have to play rooms where some of the people are not there necessarily to laugh. It’s “invasive comedy” as I call it. “Uhhhh…Oh there’s a show goin’ on. I didn’t know. I was just sittin’ here.”
As mentioned before, Matthew Broussard graduated from Rice University with a degree in applied mathematics. He has a day job as a financial analyst. At night, Broussard courageously tries his humble hand at comedy.
M-M: How do you balance having a legitimate day job and doing comedy?
Broussard: I’m living two lives.
M-M: How did you craft the persona you have on stage?
Broussard: So my persona is unknowingly arrogant and likes to flippantly mention how handsome he is and how educated and wealthy he is… but in a somewhat likeable way. It’s a little close to me.
M-M: At least you can be honest about that…
Broussard: I’m not going to go up there and talk about not getting laid and be awkward or stupid. 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. Some people get up there and do self-deprecation. I want to do the opposite.
A trait I admire about Broussard is his steadfast refusal to get involved with any of the frivolous and scene-damaging drama that goes on in the Houston comedy circuit. He plays the game like Mick Jagger, giving praise to all of the people he’s met along the way, including Chase Durousseau, Barrett Goldsmith and John Wessling (those names you should definitely know if you’ve followed comedy in Houston at all in the past year).
M-M: In just a year’s time, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned thus far?
Broussard: Record yourself. That’s number one. I learned that three or four months ago. Anyone that does stand-up needs to record themselves every time. Never ever get on stage again without recording yourself.
M-M: On an amateur level, what are the things you’re doing to further your career?
Broussard: I’m not in to podcasts. I’m not really in to Twitter… I keep working pretty hard on my website.
M-M: Monday Punday.
Broussard: MondayPunday.com, it’s an extension of my humor. I draw a picture every week and you’re supposed to guess the play on words it represents. That’s been doing really well.
M-M: How are you as a visual artist?
Broussard: I can draw pictures okay, basically. I can draw cartoons alright. <pause> I’m good at sculpture.
M-M: What now?
Broussard: Sculpture is my strong suit. I started doing that at a young age. I construct miniatures out of sculpting clay.
M-M: Well that’s pretty unique.
Broussard: Thank you. Most people do it but then they quit when they’re six… so I just kept doin’ it because I’m weird.
Broussard proceeded to show me pictures of his truly amazing collection of work.
M-M: Do you ever put these out there as an exhibition or showing?
Broussard: Uhhh… no. These just sit around my house and when girls come over they’re like, “That’s kinda weird.” So if a girl actually likes them, then she’s a keeper. That’s the girlfriend test right there.
There’s no doubt that if you like comedy or enjoy laughter then you will see or hear from Matthew Broussard in the future… provided he remains in Houston and refuses to rush off to greener pastures (LA, Chicago, NYC, Isle of Capri Casino). And with aspirations of being a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”, Houston just might lose its funniest person. Cheers.