Matt Wright: Stand-up Guy
For the last 25 years, 22 Minutes has been a Canadian comedy institution. Some of the biggest names in the industry – Mary Walsh, Mark Critch, Rick Mercer, Shaun Majumder – have come through the writer’s room at one point or another and we can now add another burgeoning star to that list.
St. John’s own Matt Wright was kind enough to spare us some of his time in advance of his sold-out shows at the Quidi Vidi Brewery, where he will be recording the follow up to his breakthrough stand up album Vasectomy Baby.
Just to get it out of the way, those of you who have been following the departure of Shaun Majumder from 22 Minutes know that his exit came with some controversy. Understandably, Wright was unable to comment on the situation, which is entirely fair – that is Majumder’s business and no one else’s.
Wright has headlined clubs across Canada and won awards for his stand-up which includes appearances in the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, and the Halifax Comedy Festival. He also hosts a tremendous podcast, The Work Report, in which he interviews different creators about their work and their process.
Matt Wright the comedian is already an established entity; however, you may not know that he is also a filmmaker. Wright has already taken home awards for his shorts, including a nod for Best Emerging Filmmaker at the 2016 Nickel Film Festival, so we were curious as to where he sees this side of his career going.
“I've enjoyed the shorts I've made so far and I've learned a ton,” Wright told The Racket via email. “So right now I've been tinkering with scripts for features and pitches for TV shows. This is a wild time to be a storyteller so it's hard to say what the future is. I'd love to make a feature-length film sooner rather than later, so I'm working on scripts for that and pitches for television.”
He continued, speaking about why he enjoys filmmaking, “I just like telling stories - whether they're mine as a writer/director or others as an actor. The medium, who knows. Technology is changing so fast it's hard to say what the future is. I might be doing stand-up via hologram in five years.”
Given Wright’s career success, we were curious to know if he has any specific goals laid out for the future. “I think destination-based goals aren't the best idea for anyone’s mental health. If you're focused on getting "things" or where you want to go, your brain will change the goalpost for what is considered success once you "get things" and then you're never really happy,” he said. “I don't think anyone is ever like "shit, I'm good now!". So it's an unwinnable game. But you can always get better. So in terms of career, and in life, just constant improvement. Just to be a little better, keep learning, keep growing. There's so much in this business that's out of your control so I just try to focus on improving so whatever opportunities are available [and] I'm able to make the best of them.”
Wright has made the best of them so far. He started out doing open mics back when Yuk Yuk’s was still around in St. John’s and has managed to seize the opportunity from there. We asked if he had an aha moment when he knew for sure this was for him, and somewhat surprisingly, no he did not.
“I think it was six years [ago that I started at Yuk Yuks]. Five or six. There was never ‘one moment’ that I was like ‘oh, this is it’. But doing stand-up feels more natural than anything I've ever done, and I think a big part of life, especially when you're younger, is just drifting around and trying a lot of things and seeing what fits. This is the best fit so far. Maybe I'll be a carrot farmer in ten years. Who knows? But so far so good.”
And as for the best part of touring around the country telling jokes? For Wright, it’s the people.
“The best part about it is always the people. I've been lucky to be able to do what I've done, but the doing of it never feels as good as you want it to. But meeting great, funny people and getting to work with people you love being around really is a privilege.”
As mentioned, Wright will be performing two sold-out shows at Quidi Vidi Brewery at 7:30 and 9:30 PM. You might catch him sampling the brews between sets. When asked if he had a favourite from Q.V., he responded, “Yes! 1892. It's very very good. I also love Quidi Vidi Premium.”
If you weren’t able to get tickets to Saturday’s shows, or the warm-up show at Mallard Cottage, can visit Wright’s website for future dates and details. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on twitter @mattwrightjokes