Stand Up & Deliver: Playing A Cafeteria At Noon
Matthew Broussard, Photo: Lindsey Byrnes
There aren’t too many times someone can say that they saw a friend go from unknown comic to TV and movie personality, like the comics who know Houston comedian Matthew Broussard can. In a small span of time Broussard went from winning a comedy contest to appearing on television and film before landing a regular show and performing in front of college audiences. The difference between the Broussard that people see perform today and the one I saw back in 2012 is a night and day one, where the comic has honed his set to a much tighter and rhythmic one than when he called Houston home. After he appeared at this year’s Houston Whatever Fest in his undies, FPH caught up with the humble comic to see what he’s been up to since leaving Houston for LA.
FPH: You’re from Atlanta correct? When did you move to Houston and how long had you lived here before things blew up for you?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: “Blew up” LOL. I moved to Houston in 2006 to attend Rice University. I started doing stand up about a year out of college in the summer of 2011 while I was working as a financial analyst. I did stand up here for two years before moving to LA. My time in Houston has a false mythos surrounding it because I managed to sneak out while I still had some new car smell on me. Had I stuck around any longer, more people would have noticed how green I still was (and am).
FPH: How does a guy who studied Applied Math at Rice and who becomes a financial analyst, get into stand-up comedy?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: That’s the wonderful and awful part of stand up comedy: anyone can just start doing it. You can’t get a Masters in stand up. Anyone is just as qualified or unqualified to pick up a microphone and start talking.
I had always enjoyed stand up and at age 23 I dawned on me that I could do it myself. I thought “How cool would that job be? I better give that a try real soon.” Then I forgot about it. Then I saw a flyer in the back of Sherlock’s and a week later, I was on stage telling jokes.
FPH: It seems like you kind of came out of nowhere and then got pretty big for a young comic pretty fast. Does it feel that way to you? Would you like to explain the timeline for those who don’t know?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: Any early success I had, I blame on the Houston scene. There was a lot of stage time, a lot of support from both new and established comics. I am still so thankful to John Wessling, Slade Ham, and Bob Biggerstaff. Danny Martinez put me up every other weekend at the Comedy Showcase. I got a broader array and larger quantity of stage time than I would have in any other town.
(My timeline was this: I won Houston’s Funniest Person 2012 when I was a year in, I got in at the clubs as an opener/feature in my second year of comedy. During that time, I got to audition for Adam Devine’s House Party through Cap City Comedy Club in Austin and got lucky. And then I moved to LA around the 2 year mark.)
FPH: You’ve been on Comedy Central, you’re on a show, “Not Exactly News,”on MTV2, you’ve been on TV shows and you’ve been in a movie “Balls Out,” while you have another film coming out next year as well. Does it feel like you’ve made it, or are you just building a killer resume?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: Well my show didn’t get renewed and I’m not sure what that other film is. So no, I don’t feel I’ve made it at all. I’m still tweaking my hour. I’m still flailing around trying to find a voice. I’m happy with where I am in the developmental process but I’m nowhere near cozy career-wise. Honestly, I’m just thrilled to paying rent and getting to perform as often as possible.
Early exposure in stand up can be a death sentence. If things work out for me, I’d rather it be a little too late than a little too early.
FPH: Recently, comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld said that “he hears not to play colleges because they’re too PC.” As someone who’s played plenty of colleges, do you find that to be true or does it not apply to you because you have a different kind of humor?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: First of all, the type of college shows Seinfeld does are a little different from the ones I do. He plays in thousand seater theaters open to the community and I’m grateful to be doing something other than a cafeteria at noon.
But, yes, I agree with what Chris Rock said (and Seinfeld later agreed with) that college kids’ ideals can, at times, be cumbersomely quixotic. Material-wise, I already tread quite lightly. But in a college setting, it’s a little scary knowing that one slip or slightly insensitive aside can land you as the subject of a nasty write up in the school paper.
Aside from that, I have a lot of fun at universities. Most college kids have never seen live comedy before and their enthusiasm is so pure and unrefined. You get to be their ambassador to your craft. That’s something you can’t get at a club.
FPH: Who are you favorite comics of the past and who are your current favorites?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: George Carlin, Louis CK, and I still feel Daniel Tosh is the most underrated overrated comedian alive. Currently, it’s John Mulaney (WATCH THE COMEBACK KID ON NETFLIX, IT’S BRILLIANT), Kyle Kinane, Mike MacRae, Sheng Wang, Beth Stelling, Chase Durousseau, Hannibal Buress. And if you ever get a chance to see Sean Patton or Brent Weinbach live, do it.
FPH: You went more of a nontraditional route to success by going more towards the alt-comedy side of things mixed with traditional clubs. Do you think that’s the best route for newer comics or was it just what worked best for you?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: I wouldn’t consider myself very alt. And I definitely didn’t start that way. In the beginning, I was solely focused on the clubs. The Comedy Showcase (now Joke Joint Comedy Showcase) was where I learned all of the basics. All my big breaks happened at the Houston and Dallas Improvs and Cap City in Austin. In LA, there is more stage time for young comics in the alt rooms and we are all a product of our environment. But I go wherever there is stage time. Alt rooms are generally more fun for me than clubs, but my ideal crowd is a medical school.
The alt/club distinction is losing all meaning. There’s just as high a percentage of hack alt comics as there are hack club comics.
I think it’s a little shortsighted for new comics to focus solely on any one scene. You need to learn both skill sets before you decide to specialize. You gotta learn the chords before you get all experimental, right? No seriously, is that how music works? I have no idea how music works.
FPH: You just performed at Houston Whatever Fest in your underwear, and you ran a game show type of format for Monday Punday at one of the afterparties. Can you explain the premise behind performing almost nude and do you plan on making Monday Punday into something other than what’s on the website?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: The underwear show just seemed like a fun challenge. I’ve done it before in Atlanta and it forces you to be a little more flexible. Also, I’m extremely vain. Just worth noting-that crowd was outstanding.
I am indeed working on doing something bigger with mondaypunday.com but that’s about all I can say. Stay tuned.
FPH: With all that’s been happening with your career on the rise, is there a chance we’ll see an album sometime soon?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: Putting out an album has always been my highest aspiration in comedy. Good albums stay with you. I remember being in fifth grade listening to Carlin’s album over and over again. I remember how many times I listened to Tosh’s “True Stories I Made Up” and more recently Mulaney’s “New in Town. “
No timeline yet, but it’s something I’m constantly working toward.
FPH: What’s your definition of a successful career in comedy?
MATTHEW BROUSSARD: All I know is that I was just as happy back when I had to use vacation days to go feature for a weekend in Dallas. Success is when you’re proud of your work, when you feel the material you put out is both entertaining and original.
It’s hard to believe that someone with such early on success is still so humble. While he works on perfecting his hour, you can keep up with him on mondaypunday.com, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Keep an eye on him, because when you’re on the roll he’s been on in recent years, he definitely has all of the makings of someone who’ll be bigger with each passing year.