By Graeme Wiggins
VANCOUVER – It’s taken as a given in the comedy world, that you have to spend the time and pay your dues, spending years on the road and in the clubs before success will come to you. Young, Vancouver comedian, Gavin Matts bucks that trend, recently winning the Sirius XM Top Comic competition against fierce competition from Canada’s top young comics and dropping his first album, Premature, while only having done comedy for less than five years.
“It’ll be four years. The first day of JFL will be my four year anniversary doing an open mic at Goldie’s,” tells Matts. His rapid rise comes from a clear self-confidence, and ability to come across as comfortable on stage. As he says, “a lot of times people are like you gotta wait until you know you’re comfortable on stage. I’ve almost never had a problem being comfortable on stage. Each person is different. You see people who are funny but it’s hard for them to pub speak, whereas public speaking was never a problem for me so that helps.”
He attributes that comfort to his youth, both family and education. He explains, “My family is pretty serious and I have three sisters. It’s a very loud family so I’ve never had a problem saying anything that’s on my mind. That’s probably where it comes from. In elementary school they used to make us do those speeches in front of everybody and I would always win. I remember always wanting to do those over any other school work. I just have to thank the public school system.”
This comfort on stage is what allowed him to be able to drop an album considerably earlier than most comedians do in their careers, and it was nicely timed with his contest win. “I dropped an album with 604 records, so the timing was good. It’s got some sketches on there, so it’s a little different than a normal comedy album. I thought it would be fun, like an old hip-hop record that I used to listen to. Intertwine jokes with sketches.” But unlike the rap albums of yore, the skits aren’t just the tracks you skip on the album. “I felt like the sketches on this were pretty good. I think maybe the jokes are the skippable and the sketches aren’t, so it went the other way.”
Aside from a couple of headline sets at the Comedy Mix, Matts will be keeping busy for the JFL Northwest festival with an edition of Barely Legal, the monthly comedy night he helps put on. “That’s my and Sophie Buddle’s show that we started in February 2016 and we’ve been doing it every month since. It used to be in this underground spot in Chinatown where you had to email to get the address and now it’s at the Slice of Life Gallery, so it’s definitely more legal than it used to be. It’s a good show.” It’s a popular show with a young crowd and a reputation for great audiences. With his quick rise to popularity and honest work ethic, any of the number of shows he’ll be on this festival would likely be a good time to check him out.
Gavin Matts performs March 7 and 8 at the Comedy Mix, Barely Legal March 2 at Slice of Life Gallery and March 9 at Little Mountain Gallery.Little Mountain Gallery