An Interview with Matthew Harrison

Hello Matthew, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I was born in the bush, Shepherds Bush. Good old West London. Naturally the next question that people ask when I tell them I’m from London is, ‘no where are you really from’. Well my mum and dad were born here so I think the answers still London. ‘No but where are you REALLY from’…ok ok grandparents are from Jamaica and Barbados. I now live all the way out in Surrey, because it makes my fiancé happy.

When did you first realise you were, well, funny?
Probably primary school, class clown and all that. I was that hyperactive kid who most people laughed at and others just wanted to kick. I continued this throughout my teen years but the point when I realised that I wanted to try stand up was when I was at a comedy club and they invited people from the audience up on stage to tell a joke. Best joke would win tickets to another show. I got up on that stage and brought the house down! It was at that point when I thought hhmmm, I could get used to this.

You’ve been washed up on a desert island with a solar-powered DVD player & three films. Which would they be?
Well providing that I get a solar powered television to go with it I would bring Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. What a man. I live by some of his lines in that film. “Don’t think….feeeeeeeel”. Plus I’ll learn enough of his moves to defend myself against any killer monkeys on the island. Second would be The Matrix as it was the first film to ever blow my mind. Had me in my kitchen trying to bend cutlery with my thoughts. Final film is Bugsy Malone. I think I’ve actually seen that film more than I’ve seen my own reflection. Absolutely love it and if I’m on a desert island I need a good sing along. “My name is Talula….”

What is it about performing live you love the most?
I can’t lie, stand up is like a drug. I love the feeling of being in the moment and reacting to what’s happening in the room. Making a room full of people laugh is a difficult thing to achieve so when you do it, and do it well, it’s extremely rewarding. I do a few online comedy projects but with the stand up you get your feedback instantly and I guess more honest as well. If they didn’t like it then they probably didn’t laugh.

You have been described on the comedy circuit as “the people’s champion,” what have you done to earn such a title?
Aah yes the people’s champ. So I was performing at the Glee Club in Cardiff in the BBC New Act of the Year competition (which was aired on BBC4 extra). It was incredible, performing to 400 people and absolutely smashed it. One of the best gigs of my life. I was sure I’d be one of the three acts to go through. They announced the the first two and my name wasn’t mentioned. The crowd started chanting my name, but it wasn’t to be. There was definitely an feeling of confusion in the air and of course I’m not taking anything away from the other acts but the crowd made it clear that they wasn’t happy. After the show I spoke to many members of the audience and they felt that I was the crowd favourite, the people’s champ. I liked the title. Similar thing happened in another competition and my comedy friends also dubbed me the People’s Champ.

Last year you were part of the trio, ‘A Girl With Two Dicks’, & this year are going solo. What’s the backstory?
So A Girl With Two Dicks was a brilliant opportunity for me to get up to the fringe without actually doing all the crazy admin by myself. My good friend and comic Susie Steed asked if I wanted to join her in a three hander. She said it’s a chance to be able to do a longer set each day as opposed to doing the usual 5 or 10 minute spots we did in London. I thought well why the hell not. A chance to get a taste of the old fringe lifestyle without doing all the hard work and see if I can captivate an audience for longer than the time it takes someone to smoke a fag. I got such good feedback from the audience and I realised that it’s not as hard as I originally thought to do all the admin so I knew from then that next year I would go solo….and here I am, 45 minutes of Meeeeee.

You are bringing your catchily titled show F*CK ME LIKE DRY VEGETABLE to the Fringe this August, can you tell us about it?
So my show F*ck Me Like Dry Vegetable is about my many many years as a croupier in a London casino. I give the audience an insight into what really goes on inside a gamblers paradise and I don’t hold back. I thought of a few other names prior to this one. First was ‘Matthew Harrison Everyday I’m shuffling’ which had a nice ring to it. Then I thought of ‘The King Of Spades’ obviously a double entendre. Funnily enough the term spade (for a black person) wasn’t in use that much anymore. So basically because people became less racist, it ruined that title. So then I went with ‘F*ck Me Like Dry Vegetable’. This title is basically explained in the show.

How do you are you finding performing at the mega-mash-up that is the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017?
So far it’s going great, I’m getting packed rooms every night and great feedback from the audience. I even take a picture with my audience after every show and tweet the picture with the hashtag #FMELIKEDRYVEG . As you could imagine I get some lively crowds in at 11.40pm but they enjoy themselves and that’s why I’m here. Also it’s great to be able to watch alot of shows while I’m here. This fringe is full of talent.

When do you know you have pulled off a good show?
I know I’ve absolutely smashed it my audience is laughing so hard that it makes me laugh. Laughing really is contagious. It’s these performances where I can literally do anything and they laugh. It’s like riding a wave of comedic brilliance and you step of that surfboard feeling like a god, a comedy god.

In one sentence can you describe the experience of performing in Edinburgh in August?
This fringe has been an amazing experience, helping me not only grow as a comic but also reminding me why I do this.

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