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Matt Okine on bringing ‘We Made You’ back

We were literally seeing the work Oxfam are doing….We'd see the tap installed in the village with running water – atap – and it's made a world of difference to this community.”

Matt Okine has been up since 4am. He's just flown from Papua New Guinea and he's back in Australia, borderline delirious but so committed to the hustle that he's on the phone to Beat from the airport. “It's why I had to ask for a really specific time,” he explains. “I hope that's alright.”

 

Truly, it's all good – if anything, it makes you admire the slashie (comedian slash actor slash rapper slash presenter slash writer) all the more. Okine was travelling through PNG with Oxfam, and describes the experience as a real eye-opener for him.

 

“We went to this little town in the north of the main island, and we went out to these villages and communities every day. We were literally seeing the work Oxfam are doing. It was really difficult just to get to these places – we'd be in a four-wheel-drive for two hours; the roads were absolute mayhem. We'd see the tap installed in the village with running water – atap – and it's made a world of difference to this community.”

 

Okine also holds hope that the work will continue throughout the entire island, and that the lives of these communities will increase in stability and livelihood. “There are a lot of difficulties within that part of the world, and it's so close to us,” he says. “I'm sure Australia could help a lot more in that capacity.”

Moving forward, Okine is looking to top off what has been a hugely busy year for him with some encore performances of We Made You, his most recent hour of stand-up as performed at the various comedy festivals both here and abroad throughout 2017. Being held in some of the biggest rooms Okine has ever performed in, the Brisbane-born, Melbourne-based comic is excited about getting to perform the show for one last run before writing begins in earnest for 2018's show. “It's such an awesome way to end the year,” he says. “The last time I did the shows, I was in London and I was so happy with my run. To come home and be able to do three massive theatre shows is just incredible. I'll be on cruise control straight to Christmas.”

Joining him as the opening act for each show is Becky Lucas, a fellow Brisbane expat who served as a co-writer on Okine's original series for Stan, The Other Guy. A longtime friend of Okine's, he’s quick to sing her praises in all aspects of her work in comedy. “I'll give you an example. Right before I got on the plane, I messaged her about a character in The Other Guy that has an issue in a new episode,” he says. “When I landed, Becky had sent through half a dozen suggestions of how the character would deal with that problem – and they were all on point. It's funny – we went to school together, and she asked me at this open mic in Brisbane about how to get into doing more stand-up. She's at a point now where I have no doubt she's going to surpass me.”

Indeed, work continues on the next season of The Other Guy, as does Okine's moonlighting as a hip hop artist with his project Boilermakers. It's been relatively quiet on the musical front, with only a single released this year, but it's understandable given the breadth of other projects that have taken up Okine's time. “There was literally no time to do anything else,” he says. “I have things I really want to put out there – it's just a matter of figuring out the right time to do it.”

 

In the meantime, the best way to keep up with all of Okine's wheelings and dealings is via @mattokine on Twitter – where you might occasionally find him in a war with The Other Guy co-star and recent ARIA award winner Adam Briggs. “I mean, you call it a war,” says Okine. “It's not a war when only one side is fighting. I don't even want to be a part of it. Briggs is a war criminal – he's breaking the United Nations code of ethics. I'll get him, though.”

Matt Okine will perform We Made You at the Athenaeum Theatre on Friday December 8.