by Ryan Meehan
Comedian Matt Donaher has performed stand-up on Conan, and Comedy Central recently named Matt one of 10 “Comics to Watch.” He was a character on the new Jonathan Katz series “Explosion Bus,” and after winning the 2012 Magner’s Comedy Festival he was invited to perform in the Glasgow International Comedy Festival in Scotland. In 2011 Matt was one of the twenty comedians hand-picked by David Letterman’s Talent Coordinator to perform in the Johnny Carson Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk, NE where he went on to be a top eight finalist. That same year Eugene Mirman invited him to perform at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in New York and was voted the Best Comedian in Boston by the Boston Phoenix. Matt has performed in clubs, colleges, basements, battleships, festivals, theaters, high school gymnasiums, college cafeterias and raised money for all sorts of causes from breast cancer to nipple awareness. We are pleased to have Matt Donaher as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: First off, I have to ask: Why does the avatar of you on your website appear to be so bummed out?
MD: Because I am a pretty big bummer! Most of the time. That wasn’t even based on a real picture, that was just an artist’s interpretation of me, which is a pretty big bummer itself, I guess, now that I’m thinking about it. Thanks a lot.
RM: In what ways are your drawings and your artwork similar to your comedy; and in what ways are the two nothing alike?
MD: I think my drawings/cartoons are similar in that I’m hopefully noticing something or playing on or twisting something nobody else has picked up on or been able to express as clearly. That’s my hope, at least. To be funny and clever and original with whatever I do. I’d say the biggest difference between my drawings and comedy are the fact that with the drawings, there are pictures.
RM: What was it like to work with the one and only Jonathan Katz? Does his staff drink a lot of coffee so it appears as if they are living in Squigglevision?
MD: Haha! Jonathan Katz is amazing. That show was all recorded at his house which was an honor just to get to go there and hang out. He fed us, took care of us. Really good guy. Each character had their own separate station and where I recorded my voice was this living room/parlor type deal and he had a stack about 6ft high of VHS with all his TV appearances, labeled and dated sometimes in pencil or pen. Was amazing during breaks just to read them and see everything he’d accomplished. I’m going to disregard the second part of your question as I assume it was for humor.
RM: What are three essential elements necessary for a really good room; and which of the three would you say is the most important?
MD: Audience. Great sound. Low ceilings. I think that is my order, too. Your room has to have audience, and hopefully more than 10, to be a good room, in my opinion. After that, a good sound system and low ceilings seem to help the most.
RM: When you watch video clips of yourself doing stand-up, what aspect of your performances do you tend to focus on? Why do you think that your eyes move directly towards that characteristic of your delivery?
MD: When I re-watch myself I am just listening to see where the audience laughs. How hard they laugh and I guess the timbre of the laugh. When I started out, I remember all I wanted was for a joke to get a laugh. But as I kept growing and building longer sets, writing more jokes, I distinctly remember learning that just getting a laugh wasn’t good enough. It had to be a certain type of laugh or a certain intensity. I’ve never really watched myself, though. I mean, I’ll watch video but I’m really listening more than anything.
RM: If you were a superhero and one of your powers gave you the ability to change one thing about the industry of stand-up comedy, what would you change and why?
MD: Hmm. This is a good question. I don’t think there is a need for managers/agents anymore, so I would probably get rid of those. For stand up, people in charge of things would just see your videos and book you and for writing submissions I would make it all blind submissions. Or I would make it so every time I tell a joke I get 1.5 billion hits, guess it depends on the day.
RM: Which aspect of the writing process do you tend to struggle with the most and why? Conversely, which portion of joke construction would you say is your specialty; and why do you think that you excel at that particular facet of your craft?
MD: This is another good question. I definitely struggle with writing longer bits but also don’t enjoy even listening to those as much as I do a short joke. I am lucky in that I write the exact type of jokes I like to hear and see other comedians perform the type of. But even if I wanted to (and I still try) my longer jokes are always pretty weak, for whatever reason. I think my writing strength is that I can just sit down and write. I will build nothing out of something sooner or later.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
MD: I will be at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland May 7-10, and I am going to a wedding in July. Probably getting a dog (English bulldog) in September, and just trying to write the best damn jokes I possibly can so when I’m gone people can tell ‘em.
Official Website: http://simplymattd.com/
Matt on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mattdonaher
Matt on Facebook: http://facebook.com/simplymattd
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