improv comedy with an audience member


A conversation with one-man comedy duo Matt Holmes

Phindie -
January 2017

In Matt&, Philly improv comedian Matt Holmes performs with an audience member. The show runs every month at 7pm on the fourth Thursday of the month at the new Good Good Comedy Theatre (215 N. 11th in Chinatown), known for $5 comedy shows. Matt talks to Phindie about the show.

Matt (left) with guest Nori in 2016.
Matt (left) with guest Nori in 2016.

Phindie: Does all improv involve audience participation?

Matt Holmes: No. People expect that, but it’s actually pretty rare.

Some improv shows are a bunch of different games, and a few of them might have an audience member on stage for a minute, but most improv groups only want you to yell out a word at the beginning and that’s it, just sit there and watch the full show they make up, same as any play or movie.

Phindie: But your show stars an audience member alongside you for the whole thing. If that’s someone’s worst fear, should they stay away?

Matt: If I ask you to come on stage with me, you can say no. It happens. I’ve only really urged somebody once, and afterwards she contacted me to say thanks for making her do it when she wouldn’t normally try anything like that.

And I’m not trying to make anybody look stupid. That’d just make me look bad and stop us from playing and creating anything. If being pulled on stage is your worst fear, you might like to see it happen to somebody else.

Phindie: Philly has a lot of improv. Why should someone see yours specifically?

Matt: Please go see anything, whatever looks interesting to you. But I like to think that my show is a midpoint between people’s disappointments, depending on their expectations.

When people hear ‘improv’ they might expect a goofy game show and get disappointed at seeing something like a stageplay. Or somebody might be expecting theatre and be disappointed that it’s kind of wacky or childish. I like my show to balance between those extremes. No matter what you’re expecting, it’s not going to be too far in the other direction.

Phindie: Why do you do improv, and why this kind?

Matt: I’ve always been interested in creativity; drawing or writing or music or cooking. I think I gravitated to improv because it’s pragmatic; you can get it done without a lot of time, complexity, or cost. I like art that has that level of accessibility.

As for this particular show I do, I like that it’s unique, I like the challenge of putting all the pieces together in the moment, and I like how it forces me to be a good team player while at the same time allowing me to be controlling, if not requiring it.

It’s a show that’s fun in different ways for different people.