By David Gavri
On June 20, 2011, Matthew Broussard made his stand up comedy debut. On June 20, 2012, he was crowned as Houston’s Funniest Person. He came, he saw, he conquered.
After an extraordianry performance at The Improv, we caught up with Broussard to chat about his contest win and his future in comedy, all while admiring his hair.
You won Houston’s Funniest Person contest exactly one year after you started doing comedy. Tell us about your first comedic experience.
On June 20, 2011, I walked into Sherlock’s Pub by myself and did my first open mic. It went well. Ahead of me was Gerald Torregosa, and I remember hearing how he had placed in the contest, thinking, “Man it’d be cool to place in the contest someday.”
You won the contest on your very first try. Has anybody else ever done that?
Sam Demaris did it 10 years ago.
So are we gunna see you with dreadlocks any time soon?
Yea, I’m thinkin so.
As you entered the finals, what did it feel like to be surrounded by other veteran comics? And what did you learn the most from the entire experience?
I went into the contest cocky thinking, “I can win this, I can win this.” But I scraped by and got the LAST qualifying spot in the finals. So by now, I’m totally humble thinking, “Okay…yaa…these guys are really good!” I finally realized what I was up against. And they were all really talented. It was such an amazing finals, I was extremely honored to be there, extremely lucky, and extremely humbled. I felt every emotion during that contest. From hating life to loving life, and everything in between.
It got to the point in the finals where I had kind of a, “I give up, I can’t win,” attitude, because I thought I couldn’t win. So I decided not to “sell out” and do the jokes that I like less just to please the crowd. I did the jokes that I liked the most, for myself. And that seemed to be the best strategy for both myself and for Barrett.
It was a “Be True to Yourself” lesson thoughout all of it. Every time I go on stage now, I want to do my absolute best every single time. That’s the best thing I got out of it. Now, the second best thing I got out of it was that I won and that I NEVER hafta do it again thank God!
So now that you have claimed your title, what’s in the future for Matthew Broussard?
I’m gunna keep working my hardest. It’s what I’ve been doing thus far. My next goal is to get some regular work here at The Improv. Eventually, I would like to travel and go to alotta cool places all because of comedy. I’d like to be able to quit my job. [smiles] Na, seriously though my job is awesome.
My ultimate goal is to be a character on The Daily Show that is based on my stage persona, being a really arrogant, really entitled financial advisor. That would be a dream come true.
Tell us about your comedic influences.
Well, I sound way too much like Daniel Tosh. [laughs] I listen to a lot of John Mulaney—he’s my biggest influence right now. Louis C.K. is of course up there, as well as Hannibal Buress. I think Donald Glover is probably one of my top three favorite comics. In fact, he’s the reason I got into stand up comedy.
I’d say my biggest influence, though, are other comics in the Houston scene. They’ve been so influential to help me find my voice, perfect jokes, come up with some of my best tags. Chase Durousseau has been incredibly supportive. Mark Hurtado is someone I look up to a lot. Ryan Thauburn was supportive from the start. Same with John Wessling and also Kristin Lindner. Danny Martinez has been a father figure all the way. I would say those guys have even more influence on me than the comics that are on Comedy Central.
Being a Rice University graduate, out of all the professions, why comedy?
It just seemed so sexy to me. I can’t play guitar, and I wanted to impress people on stage with that kind of confidence. And then the whole intellectual challenge of writing a joke is about as satisfying to me as a very elegant math proof. So I love it, I love the whole process, from writing a joke, to perfecting it with performance. It’s more satisfying than anything I’ve done academically or professionally.
Most comics starting out resort to being dirty, telling “dick jokes”. How do you feel about keeping the material clean and clever?
For me, the challenge is that a good punchline shouldn’t rely on curse words or dirty material. The premise might be dirty, but I think the most impressive punchline is when it’s a very accurate assessment in very few words. That’s what I like so much about John Mulaney. It’s what he does so well. He doesn’t rely on impressions or crudeness or shouting. That’s what I strive for. But…I do have plenty of dick jokes.
Tell us about your latest gigs.
I’ve performed twice at The Improv, and I’ve become very regular with guest spots at The Comedy Showcase. I’m getting to do my second time hosting for Danny Martinez the weekend of July 6, which is an honor because he’s a veteran of comedy.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received?
Don’t take too much advice from one person, they’ll turn you into them. Work really, really hard, and perform in venues that you don’t like.
Aside from stand up comedy, you are the creator of Monday Punday. Tell us about that.
I started it on Facebook, and then I eventually moved it to a website. Now it gets about 10,000-30,000 hits per week. Now, I do not post answers purposely. I feel that people are much smarter than they give themselves credit for. If they can just look at the answer at anytime, they’ll give up way before they can actually get it. You might not get it for five years, but five years from now when you do get it, you’ll be happy I never told you.
Many say that the funnier comedians are the uglier comedians. What do you have to say to this?
I’ll take that as a compliment. You know, comedy is the one thing I could’ve done where a guy who looks like me is the underdog. I think comedy is the most level playing field out of anything. You can have someone who’s an engineer, or you can have someone who’s dropped out of college to wait tables, and has been doing comedy ever since. And both of them are funny. That’s what I LOVE about comedy.
Many people feel that you have to leave Houston to become a successful comedian. Give us your thoughts about this and the Houston comedy scene in general.
I’m interested in staying here until I’m a lot funnier. It’s a big family out here. Everyone is so supportive. The Houston open mics are really hard. But it makes you that much better. Everyone says you should do comedy in Austin—it’s cheating! Doing comedy in Houston is like training for a marathon with weights tied to your feet. When you pull ‘em off, you’ll fly. I’m happy I got my start here.
Written by: David Gavri