An Interesting Man: Eli Matthewson

By Anna Lee
Comedian Eli Matthewson. Picture / Babiche Martens

Meet Eli Matthewson, the 26-year-old up-and-coming comedian with an infectious laugh and a broad knowledge of dinosaur facts. Dubbed “the little gay rock star of New Zealand comedy”, Matthewson is quickly taking the stand-up comedy world by storm.

Five years ago, after attending Riccarton High School in Christchurch, Mathewson made the move to Auckland’s Grey Lynn, where he quickly became acquainted with the world of stand-up comedy after being introduced to it by fellow comedian James Roque.

Less than a year later, the rising star found himself a national finalist in the 2011 National Raw Comedy Quest after working with Rhys Darby and wife Rosie Carnahan to produce his first comedy show. Matthewson then went on to co-found live late night improv show, Snort, at the Basement Theatre with friends Rose Matafeo and Guy Montgomery etc.

Now the two-time Billy T nominee takes on another year at the Comedy Festival with a show themed around the topic of faith but this time he's sporting a whole new look.

“I’m trying to describe my new look as a wife in a Resene paint commercial. You know, when they wear a flannel shirt and the husband puts paint on her nose?” jokes Matthewson. “I really hate Chucks and a suit like the Paul Henry look. It's a classic comedian look but I’m really trying to avoid that.

“I also avoid anything that looks like I’ve put on my shirt and tie because I’m about to tell some jokes. I just try to dress [in] what I’m comfortable in. I really like jeans, sneakers and plaid shirts. I’m just so excited about how you’re allowed to wear comfy running style shoes with jeans now. It’s the most amazing innovation in fashion and I hope it lasts for a long time” he says.

“I’m thinking about, possibly, growing a tiny mullet. I feel as though we’re at the end of topknots. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of really good looking baristas with topknots but I feel like it’s fading out and it’s gotten too cool. Mullets could be the next thing and I want to be at the head of the mullet movement.”

Recent purchases include slick navy Nike sneakers from Melbourne and his new favourite, a rain jacket. “I got a really cool plain black rain jacket from American Apparel and sometimes I wear it when it’s not raining. I don’t know if that’s a faux pas or not but I feel like if it's overcast you can kind of get away with it because it just looks like you’re really prepared for any weather.”

And prepared he is, with, or without his new rain jacket. With a week to his show, the result of months of planning, Matthewson couldn't be more excited to get on stage.

“It’s all about growing up in a super-Christian family and then suddenly not being in it anymore. There will be lots of true stories and true recounts of my fears growing up. It’s about the fear of having religion then not having it anymore, where your life is going and what you can believe in. “When I was younger I used to stay up late at night worrying about what happens after we die and things like that, and that’s the basis of my show. It sounds dark, but it will be funny.

“For a good luck charm, on the night, I’ll often try and wear my most recently bought pair of underwear. Fresh underwear makes me feel a lot better on stage. I'll also steal my boyfriend’s Triumph and Disaster cleanser. I think I would only buy their moisturisers from then on as a reward if I won the Billy T award.

Amy Schumer
Key and Peele
Aziz Ansari
Rhys Darby
Celia Pacquola

Parks and Recreation
Broad City
30 Rock

Comedian Dai Henwood.
Comedian Guy Montgomery.
Director Xavier Dolan.

* Eli Matthewson, Faith, from May 12-16. Buy tickets here.

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