Article Title:Meet: Eli Matthewson
Category:Performance
Author or Credit:Jacqui Stanford
Published on:30th April 2012 - 02:37 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:11683
Text:The latest gay talent to burst onto the comedy scene tells us about his upcoming three-way show Minority Report, the many projects he has on the go and why he thinks we should laugh at ourselves a little more. Eli Matthewson, 23, is a Christchurch native who is in his final year of an acting degree at Unitec in Auckland. Along with acting, with roles ranging from Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate, he writes and does improv, the latter which led him to stand-up. "I started out doing Scared Scriptless in Christchurch," Matthewson tells us. "That was my first acting gig ever and it's improvised theatre, a weekly late-night show. I always really enjoyed that and when I moved up to Auckland, which was a couple of years ago now, I had some friends doing stand up and I saw it as a challenge, I thought it would be good to go up there by myself and just try doing my own thing and see if I could be funny on my own." Comparing it to reading lines - Matthewson says it's a lot easier to be alive with comedy: "When you're acting you're fighting against getting into the pattern that you've learned these lines and you're speaking lines that you've learnt. The thing about stand up is it's real visceral and the audience is right there and there's a vibe in the room that's very present to you and it's like a very prominent exchange between the audience and the comedian." He is part of a threesome in his New Zealand International Comedy Festival show Minority Report; alongside an Asian guy and a girl. "Girls aren't really a minority but she's also a vegan, so I guess we could use that as well," he says with mirth. "And she's definitely a minority within the Comedy Festival, as well, I think there's only like five or six women stand-ups performing in the whole thing, so, that's pretty cool. And then there's obviously me, being a homo." Such self-deprecating and casual language is common out in about, but not the type of talk people usually use in a GayNZ.com interview. It's not surprising though, that Matthewson is pretty straight up and genuine in his language, as he believes we as 'homos' need to laugh at ourselves a bit more. "It can't just all be serious YouTube videos about It Gets Better. I think we need to laugh at ourselves. And that's not just for our community, it's New Zealand in general as well. We don't really like laughing at ourselves. But if you take yourself seriously all the time you're just going to stress about being perfect - and none of us are perfect." His own sexuality is coming into his comedy more and more. "I probably only did my first bit of gay material about, in the last six months maybe," he recalls. "But as soon as I did it I felt so much more at home on stage. And I think the audience enjoys it more if you open yourself up. As soon as I come out on stage, which I usually do in my first line if I'm doing a gig at the Classic, it opens you up to them a bit more I think." Matthewson's part of Mionority Report will be a 'stand-up-acting-hybrid', as he will be performing scenes from movies, but acting them out as if it were a gay movie. "And there's a few songs, I do a couple of songs," he says, explaining upon further questioning that he's not really a singer, apart from in the car like most people. He's full of excitement about being part of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival: "There's just so much going on. And I'm doing other things, like a spot on fan fiction comedy as well and a few other things, and everything is happening within walking distance from each other, so I'm really excited about seeing lots of shows and hanging out with lots of comedians, it'll be a very exciting time I think." He isn't going to throw away his acting hat, saying he likes working on a lot of different things at one time and stressing himself out. "I think if I stuck to one I would get bored, so it's nice to do a big variety." Matthewson certainly has plenty on his plate. We speak just after he's had a reading of a play he's taking to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. "A couple of friends and I wrote that and put it together. The dream is to keep touring that show next year and maybe turn it into a TV show, that's our secret plan, to take over the world." If you would like to contribute to his quest to take over the world, you can do so at his page on the Pledge Me site. Minority Report is on stage at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival from 2-5 May at 10PM, at Brooklyn Bar. Click here for ticketing information. Jacqui Stanford - 30th April 2012    
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