Joke of the Year winner still wants his Roomba
WHEN I REACH out to the comics and writers I want to interview for this column, I never know what I’m going to get.
Sometimes they respond immediately and enthusiastically, eager for any added publicity Inside Jokes might bring them. Sometimes days go by before I hear back from them. Sometimes they don’t respond at all. (Sad face)
When they decide to play along, I’m always thrilled because, well, that means I’ll be able to file a column that week, but more than that, I’m truly interested in learning more about their different comedic processes, what they think is funny, how they approach life on and off stage.
New York City-based comic and writer Matt Koff came through on all fronts this week. The man who won a Joke of the Year contest made his television debut on the hilarious History Channel series “I Love the 1880s” and is working on “The Matt Koff Show,” a live sketch performance scheduled for Dec. 21 at New York’s The Creek and The Cave.
He also asked people to donate money so he could buy a Roomba which is even funnier than it sounds.
In our interview, Koff talks about performing in front of two people, how the postponement of a Louis CK show is the real tragedy of Hurricane Sandy and Hitler’s tiny dick.
Check it out and don’t forget to read The Best Tweet I Can Find In Five Minutes at the end.
TC: Your Facebook profile photo is a shot of you performing for an audience of zero. Have you ever done a show or shows where only a handful of people showed up and if so, how did that go?
MK: Well, before my current status as a stadium comedian, I used to do plenty of shows with a low attendance. It’s not that bad, because at least you’re always outnumbered by the audience. (Hopefully…I don’t think I’ve ever just performed for one guy.)
I used to be in a sketch group which consisted of four people, and one time we did a whole show for an audience of two, consisting of my friend and my fiancee. Which sounds depressing until you realize that the group later dissolved, and a few months later my fiancee broke off the engagement. Oh wait, that’s even more depressing. Oops!
As a stand-up, small audiences don’t bother me, though. If a joke is funny, it will get a laugh, even if only five people are listening.
TC: So many stand-up stars live and work in New York City. Do you have the time and/or the desire to go see them perform or are you mostly focused on doing your own thing?
MK: The vast majority of the comedy I see is when I’m on a show. I perform often enough that I never really have a need or desire to seek out comedy. If I have a free pocket of time, I’d rather use it to go to a park or stay home and eat a rotisserie chicken in my underwear. (…Ladies.)
There are exceptions of course. Sarah Silverman came to town recently, and I was lucky enough to get to see her work on some material. I had tickets for a recent Louis CK show, which he postponed until March because of the hurricane. Boy, that was disappointing. It’s one thing when a hurricane destroys people’s homes, but it’s quite another when you have to wait four extra months to see Louis CK.
TC: I laughed out loud at this clip. Do bits like “girlfriend-no girlfriend” come to you easily or does it take a while work that up?
MK: Those generally take a while. I will sit around with a germ of an idea for a long time, and then sometimes if I’m lucky, I’ll figure out the best way to approach it. I used to do a character that was essentially “observational comic who’s unrelatably happy.” Then it became about me being happy about having a girlfriend. So I was doing only that first part of the bit, but then I had to transition into my “real” jokes about being broken up with. And unbeknownst to me, the biggest laugh came from the transition: “Actually, guys, I don’t have a girlfriend.” So I explored from there, and now that’s where the real payoff is. So basically: stand-up can be a beautiful and unpredictable journey. (I mean, most of the time it’s not that at all, but it can be.)
TC: How much fun is “I Love the 1880s” and, growing up, did you have ever imagine you’d be a part of a funny show on The History Channel?
MK: “I Love The 1880s” has been a lot of fun to shoot. They give you a packet of historical facts to make jokes about and then two days later, you go in and say the jokes you wrote. The process has been at once manic, challenging, exciting and fun.
I’ve written for TV shows before but this is my first time being in front of the camera. I’ve been on maybe three TV auditions in my life. They were all for commercials. But I think of myself as more of a writer than an actor or performer so I don’t audition. So the fact that my first on-camera thing is me saying my own material is really, really exciting. If I could be paid to make fun of Hitler’s tiny dick on TV for the rest of my life, I think I would be PRETTY happy. (I didn’t actually make fun of Hitler’s tiny dick on this show, but I would have if they’d asked me to.)
TC: Did the American people not give the Buy Matt Koff a Roomba campaign the attention it deserved?
MK: The American people gave that campaign way more attention than it deserved. I made almost $200 from that campaign. Fifty dollars of it is from my mom. I got $15 from some guy in Britain who I guess follows me on Twitter? Most of the money was from Facebook friends who gave a dollar each. A couple of people gave 69 cents. I was like LOL, 69, you still just wasted 69 cents on this campaign.
People ask me if I ever got the Roomba. No. I still have all of the money. It’s not enough to buy a Roomba, which is $349 on Amazon. I’m not spending $150 of my own money on some stupid Roomba. I guess I should make another video. It might be fun to make another fundraising video in the wake of Sandy. “Guys, let’s not lose focus on what’s important.”
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find In Five Minutes:
When a girl says she wants to feel special, DON’T buy her a helmet
— Hurlarious (@hurlarious) November 14, 2012