Matt Storer knows a thing or two about not being a wuss. Or does he? Audiences will get the chance to decide when he makes his third appearance at Perth Comedy Festival on Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19 at the Regal Theatre, with his new show Wuss. JO CAMPBELL chats to Storer about sooks, school, and self-deprecation.
Many of us have an inspirational story about how someone special encouraged our talents at an early age. Not Storer. His special encouragement came in the form of a back-handed remark from a classmate who sarcastically told him: “You should be a stand-up comedian, hey.”
Having been home-schooled for his primary years, Storer required a magic power to keep the bullies at bay when he got to high school. “So I kind of fell back on my ability to make jokes about myself – self-deprecation. You know, the “yeah, you’re right, I am a weirdo”, which probably was the start of me exploring comedy.”
Before taking out WA’s RAW Comedy 2014 at the age of 20, the only interview Storer had done was for a job at Baskin-Robbins. Four years on and he’s now making a full-time living out of the dream – or, to quote the title of his Perth Fringe show this year, he’s living the daydream. He’s becoming hot property too, sharing stages with the likes of Joel Creasey and Peter Rowsthorn.
Surprisingly, his RAW winning came about on the back of next to no stand-up experience, apart from said class-clownery and a couple of non-scripted shows Storer put on for his church community (which were quite the affair and involved a bouncy castle). “In retrospect, I was a random kid with no idea of what I was doing,” Storer said. “I would never take that sort of risk now – performing an hour of untested material to 300 people. The naivety of youth.
“I hadn’t realised there was an actual comedy scene, that you go out to the local rooms and hone your craft and slowly work your material for your shows. I kind of just thought that you just do shows and suddenly, someone will scout you and you become famous.”
Now a regular across Perth’s comedy circuit, Storer may not be the religious type any more, but his comedy is far more clean-cut than most other local acts (although he does occasionally use the F-word). Storer attributes this to his church upbringing. “In the comedy community I’m singled out as being a little clean and a little safe, but my parents and church people probably think I’m a bit filthy and a bit dirty. I guess I’m actually somewhere in between, because it takes a lot to be considered dirty on the local scene.”
From puns to piano-based observational bits, Storer’s new show covers the quintessential Australian topic of being a wuss. It all started with Storer googling “woose” only to find the correct spelling. “I originally thought it was spelled like “moose” but with a W, as I’d never seen it written, I’d only heard people say it. So that has been an educational experience in itself.”
Whilst not R-rated, Storer’s upcoming show is unlikely to come off as a spelling bee either. Is he actually a wuss though? “You can’t control what people think of you,” Storer said, “so I’ll let the audience make up their own minds.” Maybe that’s the most non-wuss thing one can do.