Matt O’Brien: Serious About Comedy

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Matt O’Brien is serious about comedy because that’s his job! He is very passionate about what he does and he loves “everything” about being a stand-up comedian

“I love making strangers laugh, the travelling, hotels, the road food, the hanging out with other comics, the partying, the down time, the constant feeling that I'm very, very lucky to be doing what I'm doing for a living.”

Matt may seem familiar to you, and that could be because of the award-winning comic’s appearances on Video On Trial, Comedy Now, and the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival. You may have also seen him late at night on a subway in Toronto with a video camera because that is where he filmed his own talk show; appropriately titled, “Late Night Talk Show on a Subway”. You can see many of his above mentioned performances on his YouTube channel. Matt can also be found on iTunes. His “Rehash” podcast has been featured in the “New and Noteworthy” category and you can purchase his first comedy album there. Live in a Basement in Front of 20 People reached #1 on the charts in 2014. His awards include: “Best Stand Up” at the L.A. Comedy Festival and “Canada’s Next Top Comic” by Sirius/XM Radio.

O’Brien recalls his time on Much Music’s Video On Trial as an “awesome experience” and says that he really misses it:

“When it was on the air, it really was the launching pad for a lot of comedians and I feel really honoured to have been a part of it. It sucks that it’s cancelled now because I felt it was great for comics [to get] exposure. Also, it was a fun writing exercise, making fun of videos [and] having to come up with pages and pages of jokes.”

The London, Ontario native studied Journalism at Durham College in Oshawa and when asked if this program influenced his comedy and writing style, Matt replied:

“Journalism absolutely influenced me. When I applied to Journalism, I actually didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. It absolutely led me to doing comedy. I realized I didn’t really like writing about news.... [I] enjoyed more laid-back, fun articles about the best breakfast sandwiches on campus and stupid stuff like that.”

“When I was in journalism one of my professors suggested doing improv or stand up to be more comfortable with crowds and speaking in front of a camera. I tried it and realized I wanted to do stand up more than anything else.”

Matt often returns to London to perform, which for him is a “weird feeling” but it is “still fun” to see his old stomping grounds: “[It’s] funny to think that I’m hired to tell jokes to these people now.”

O’Brien advises that if you are serious about comedy (as a career) then that’s what you should do – take it seriously: 

You really have to make comedy your entire life. It’s fun but there are a lot of ups and mostly downs. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but because of that, it’s also the most rewarding. If you’re thinking of doing comedy, move to Toronto and go out to open mics every single night of the week.”

“Someone asked me what my hobbies are and I couldn’t really think of anything because I literally go to shows and write all day, every day. I guess that’s the most ideal situation to say ‘my job is my passion and my hobby’.”

Matt O’Brien’s “ideal situation” is now his reality and he is very fortunate to be doing what he loves for a living. His many accomplishments came from “years of hard work, practice and open mics.” Although Matt is a stand up comedian, you can apply his work ethic to any occupation:

“Like any passion, it takes thousands of hours to be good at it, and I have absolutely worked thousands of hours to be good at what I do. Even when it was really tough, I never thought about giving up.  I guess that’s how I knew my job and my passion were the same thing—and I feel very lucky for being able to say that.”

For more information on where and when you can see Matt, you can visit his website and follow him on Twitter.