This weekend one of comedy’s brightest and most cerebral young voices returns to the city where it all began. If you haven’t yet been acquainted with the talents of Matthew Broussard, we suggest heading down to one of Houston’s most popular comedy haunts, The Secret Group this Friday at 8 pm to see what all the fuss is about.
Matthew’s career started out no different from most stand-ups, studying mechanical engineering and applied mathematics at Rice university (Seriously). It may be funny to joke about now, but most people would have been terrified to leave behind the kind of stability that Broussard put down to pursue his dreams. When he won Houston’s Funniest Comedian and made his television debut all within his first two years of performing, some of those fears probably dissipated.
Since then he’s appeared on numerous sitcoms and late night shows, performed his own half hour special, and was a finalist on the second season of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle.
His material has garnered acclaim from around the comedy world, and as if that wasn’t enough he also runs a successful pun based puzzle website appropriately titled mondaypunday.com. We caught up with Matthew to talk about where comedy has taken him and his love of the Bayou City.
Byline Houston: What’s it like starting comedy in Houston?
Matthew Broussard: Houston was an incredible place to start because it doesn’t have recognition as a huge comedy city currently, but it has this rich history with guys like Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks. It’s a super diverse city, and it’s a very, very educated city. I mean three of its biggest industries are medicine, space, and oil! I wouldn’t have picked a better place to start if I could, I would love to be remembered as a Houston comedian.
BH: Did going to Rice have any impact on your comedy?
MB: Oh yeah, Rice is great because it’s such a nerdy place. I got to perform there a couple months ago and I didn’t go to school with anyone thats there now, but they vibe with the parts of the joke that I liked most. Obviously it feels great to do well but it also feels great to have a line that you slipped in for yourself be received well by the crowd.
BH: Do you feel like those kind of audiences get the most out of you?
MB: Yeah (laughing). Which is so elitist and so pretentious to say, as if I have some prerequisite courses for my material.
BH: Well, if there was one college class to understand your material better what would it be?
MB: Oh man, theres some light math references, physics… Actually biology. 100% Biology. Which is weird because I hated biology in high school, my mom was a biologist but it was too much memorization for me. I grew more interested now that no ones making me do it.
BH: Do you think you can isolate where your sense of humor came from?
MB: I think a lot of my sense of humor comes from having a nerdy family who was all into science, my dad would always have knowledge on these kind of mundane subjects. A lot of it is that things I find interesting, most people find boring. And it’s been a fun challenge in comedy for me to make those things funny. Humor is a good mechanism to make information sink in, and comedy is just a really good delivery system for what you want to impart. It’s what I loved about the Daily Show, because I was drawn to it for the comedy but I stayed because I was interested in the news, even though I never cared for the actual news.
BH: Do you feel like you try to convey a message in your material or do you just happen to talk about whatever interests you?
MB: It varies from joke to joke. Comedy is a good way to present yourself to the world, it’s a great way to tell your story and show your perspective. And its also a fun way to inform the crowd on something they don’t know. I like tidbits of information, and using those as the basis for a joke.
BH: You’ve said in a previous interview that doing a Comedy Central half hour was a high water mark for you, has anything since surpassed that for you?
MB: Fallon. Doing Fallon was a big deal because even my mom was like, The Tonight Show. Even my mom had to acknowledge that it’s not ubiquitous just in America, people know what that is even in India. So that was big thing for me in terms of the prestige of the title. And it was really fun. It doesn’t really get bigger then that in terms of a late night set.