Matt Okine’s year of living humorously

From writing a book to producing and starring in a new series of his sitcom, a lot has changed in Brisbane-born comedian Matt Okine’s life since he toured his last stand-up show.

Feb 26, 2020, updated Feb 26, 2020
Matt Okine says Brisbane's Powerhouse as one of the best venues in the world for stand-up comedy.  (Photo: Cole Bennetts)

Matt Okine says Brisbane's Powerhouse as one of the best venues in the world for stand-up comedy. (Photo: Cole Bennetts)

The 34-year-old has written a novel – the acclaimed semi-autobiographical Being Black ‘N Chicken & Chips – and a second season of his comedy series The Other Guy is currently streaming on Stan. Oh, and he’s also become a dad, with his partner Belinda Rabe giving birth to daughter Sophia early last year.

“I don’t want people to think this is a ‘dad show’,” Okine told InQueensland about his new show, Solo Diner, which he is currently performing at Brisbane Powerhouse as part of this year’s Brisbane Comedy Festival.  “It’s not, but it certainly involves elements of that journey, of how one goes from being the person on tour eating noodles by themselves in an underground Tokyo ramen den, to the guy who needs the highchair at the café and is apologising. For peanut butter toast being thrown on other patrons.

“But it’s about so many things – bad first dates, it’s about birdseed thieves, it’s about having to take a crab to the Logies, it’s about birthing classes, it’s about crime podcasts.  There’s just so much that happens in two years when you sit down and look at everything that stands out to you, you can’t define it by saying ‘this show is about becoming a dad’, because it is and it isn’t.”

In addition to his work on The Other Guy, Okine is also working on a film adaptation of Being Black ‘N Chicken & Chips, but despite his success off the stage, Okine said stand-up remained his No.1 priority.

“TV is the reward for the hard work that you put in every single week on stage,” he said. “It’s something I’ve dedicated 16 years of my life to, and I think that’s why people trust me.  If I was going to hire a plumber and they said they’d been doing it for 16 years, I’d think’ ‘oh you must be a good plumber’.  Hopefully I’ve reached the stage – and I feel like at least I’m getting there – where people trust that year after year, I’ll bring the lols.”

Okine admitted that although he had some trepidation about leaving Triple J at the end of 2016 but harbours no regrets about his decision to leave the national youth broadcaster after two years co-hosting the breakfast show with Alex Dyson.

“Is it nice when someone pays you every single week, and you get eight weeks’ holidays a year?  Sure, absolutely.  But I don’t have any regrets with the things I’ve achieved since leaving Triple J, and those things can only happen when you do take the leap.

“If I’d stayed at Triple J I wouldn’t have been able to make a TV show and probably wouldn’t have written a book.  I think it’s important to give yourself different challenges and always be challenging yourself and building yourself up as a person.”

Okine has lived in Sydney for more than a decade but said he still considers Brisbane home, and told InQueensland “it’s certainly somewhere I think me and my family will move back to, probably sooner than people might expect”.

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“It’s just gotten so cool … when I left in 2007, it was still kind of the butt of jokes in Sydney or Melbourne but now it punches well above its weight.  It produces incredible talent – so many people who have gone on to do great things, not just in comedy, in the entertainment industry as whole, and it’s a great place for families. It just ticks every box.

“To be able to come back and play the Powerhouse, there are not many better venues in the world, to be honest.  To be able to go to a gig and then have a drink outside on the balcony at the Powerhouse and look across the river at houses that are way too expensive for to afford, it’s just awesome.

“I feel grateful whenever I’m back there that I’ve had the opportunity to go around the world but also have a place that I can firmly call home.”

Matt Okine performs Solo Diner at Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival until Sunday, March 1, and at HOTA, Gold Coast, on March 21,


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