Matt Stewart on the lead up to his first ever solo show

Fresh from sell out shows at the 2016 Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Matt Stewart brings his downbeat and wry comedy sensibilities to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with his first ever solo show, Pretty Dry.

“In some ways it’s like a dream doing a solo show at the Comedy Festival,” Stewart says. “I felt I was ready.” The show is the best of Stewart’s comedy from the last two years, showcasing his unassuming delivery of peculiar and at times dark humour. “It’s loosely held together by regrets I’ve had in my life,” he says. “But broadly, it’s a series of moments that people will enjoy and laugh at.”
It’s been a big couple of years for Stewart. After winning the RAW Comedy competition back in 2014 he’s been hard at work as part of the creative team at Stupid Old Studios, creating the three-part web series Think Tank for ABC’s Fresh Blood and traveling around Australia filming, writing and directing the critically acclaimed Australia, Get It Up Ya.
“We’ve been getting busier and busier,” he says, with the creative team working on new and exciting material from their local Melbourne based studio. “I love working in collaborative environments. Comedy improves when it’s bounced off other people. Hanging out with funny people, just chatting with them, I reckon you get funnier.”
Stewart also directed the SBS documentary Roadshow, all about the travelling MICF Roadshow. However, despite the impressive credentials behind the camera it’s stand-up that’s still closest to Stewart’s heart. “I do love doing all the other stuff but it’s the main thing I want to do in a lot of ways,” he says. “In my dreams I’m still doing it as an old man, although there’s still a lot of time before that happens.”
Pretty Dry is a culmination of two years of work for Stewart, compiling the best of his comedy from recent years. However the show is still evolving night after night. “I’m still working on the show, still adding things, moving things around,” he says. “It’s always changing and you’re able to work on it as the festival goes along which is nice.”
Pretty Dry marks the first solo comedy festival show for Stewart. Last year he performed with fellow Stupid Old mate Andy Matthews (who also directs this year’s show) as well as performing with Comedy Zone the year before that. “It’s much more lonesome,” he jokes. “I’m in the Chinese Museum, which is beautiful, so I’m waiting to go on and I’m next to an ancient jade burial suit and old statues. I just hang out with them.”
Despite the venue, people have said Stewart’s show has a distinctly Australian vibe to it, which makes sense given that one of his biggest inspirations for comedy was seeing The Great Debate many years ago. “I remember it blew my mind well before I knew comedy was a thing people were allowed to do,” he says.
However, Stewart has carved out his own distinctive place in the local comedy scene with his deadpan delivery on offbeat topics.  The Australian vibe that seems to resonate throughout Pretty Dry is bolstered by the dry and sardonic delivery that Matt purveys within his show, creating a hilariously wry and unique experience. “Forget everything you know about comedy,” he says. “This is a real game changer.”
Having previously performed Pretty Dry to sold out crowds in Adelaide, and as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, this unaccompanied outing at this year’s Comedy Festival allows Stewart the chance to bring his comedic wit to the forefront, showcasing his off-kilter          delivery and distinctive personality for the masses.
When asked what he felt the main thing he wanted the audience to take away from the show he responded simply, “I guess just a feeling of deep, unbridled joy.” What more could you ask for?
By Chris Swan

Matt Stewart is performing Pretty Dry at The Chinese Museum everyday until Sunday April 23 (bar Mondays) as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival.