A wise man (George Michael) once said, "'cause I've got to have faith". Eli Matthewson had that. The New Zealand comedian grew up in a devoted Christian household but eventually turned his back on Jesus for a life of "guilt-free sinning". His show at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Faith, recounts his journey from being a believer to a non-believer.
"My family were pretty conservative when I was growing up - 5 kids,
Christian family driving around in a van listening to Christian cassettes. I
sung in the church band, and my first ever play was a show set in a Virtual
Reality Basketball world which we did for Sunday Schools," he says.
"I was never really "feeling it" though, and showed up mainly
for performance opportunities. I went to Church less for Jesus and more so I
could try and be the centre of attention. I stopped going in High School and
now I have no religion, just a constant looming fear of death!"
Matthewson is an established comedian in New Zealand, and has previously won
the Best Comedy award at the 2011 & 2013 Auckland Fringe and been a writer
for successful satirical news and entertainment show Jono and Ben. Despite
these successes in New Zealand, this will be his Australian debut at the Comedy
Festival, so to risk sounding like Emma Bunton; what took you so long?
"First of all - thanks for reminding me of that great song. Easily the
best solo Spice Girl release. Pressing play on it right now," he laughs.
"I've been in Melbourne during the last couple of years as a member of
FanFiction Comedy and Snort, but this will be my first solo. I wanted to make
sure I had a show I was really happy with before I took a solo over, and I
think this is the one!
"But there are still nerves. Part of me does always wonder though if the
people who have enjoyed my work are just wrong and one day it's all going to
come crashing down and I'll be proved to be a fake who ended up performing by
some random loophole. Maybe that will happen in Melbourne," Matthewson says,
even though this is highly unlikely.
"I still remember this time when I was eighteen I played Pinocchio in a
touring schools show, and one day there was a kid in the front row who every
time I spoke would put his hands over his ears and say "STOP STOP STOP
STOP STOP". Whenever I have a bad gig, I think about that," he
recalls. "But I really think the audience will leave happy and embarrassed
for the many things I've been through, and relieved that it wasn't them!"
If you had to name your child after a vegetable what would it be?
Turnip? I reckon a kid called Turnip could have a chance at being the quirky
one in the popular group at High School.
Which reality TV show would you most like to appear/compete on?
The Amazing Race but ideally without too many hard challenges like physically,
or where you have to eat yucky stuff. Just like nice beaches and great food.
And you can't get eliminated. Basically just a filmed holiday. But you don't
need the cameras there.
The most irritating habit I have is currently talking way too much about my
love for Zayn Malick.
What's a song that sums up for life?
Hailee Steinfield's Love Myself - but in more of a self-empowerment way than a
wanking way. (But a little bit in the wanking way).
While in Melbourne, I really really really want to embrace the local culture by
getting a fine on the tram.
Venue: Forum Theatre, Cnr Flinders & Russell Sts, Melbourne
Season: 24 March - 17 April | Tues - Sat 7.15pm, Sun 6.15pm
Length: 55 minutes
Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc & Tightarse Tuesday & Previews
Bookings: MICF website