Interview By Liam Stretch (he/him)
You will have seen Rhys Mathewson slip onto your TV screens. From Seven Days, Have You Been Paying Attention, The Project, and even the talk of dessert time, Seven Sharp, this stand-up comedian come TV presenter and writer has done pretty much everything and keeps getting better. Liam Stretch asked him only the most important questions.
So, Rhys. What makes you you – who are you?
I’m a stand-up comedian. I work in TV as a writer and performer, and everything going to plan; I will inherit News Corp and the Murdoch family fortune.
Describe your comedy style?
Charming mischief and self-involved fantasy with some proper hard jokes and a good bit of physical.
But I dunno man. I think it’s harder to see what you are from the inside than the outside. I do whatever I think is funny. Maybe if I had a firmer grip on what my comedy brand is I would be more successful.
You’re also a broadcaster now; how did this come about?
That makes me sound very official. Wendy Petrie is a broadcaster, I’m just a dude doing stuff.
Stand up led to me being a comedy writer and panellist on various shows around the place, which landed me a writing job at The Project when it started. They chucked me out in the field, and then four years later, I jumped channels to Seven Sharp.
Have you ever been confused for another celebrity?
Only other NZ comedians, specifically Joseph Moore (of Fail Army and Two Hearts) and Ben Hurley.
You once went searching for a ghost in the Auckland TVNZ building – have you ever had a paranormal experience yourself?
Na, ghosts aren’t real. I was hoping to have a bit more fun with that but the ghost hunting experts I invited were pretty normal people, annoyingly.
Who inspires you to be funny?
Daniel Kitson is pretty much everything I think stand up can be.
Maria Bamford, Chris Rock, Hollywood Handbook, Reggie Watts, James Acaster, John Kearns, Josie Long, Beth Stelling, Wanda Sykes, Norm MacDonald, Tim Key, John Mulaney.
Locally: Guy Montgomery, Eli Matthewson, Two Hearts, Rose Matafeo, Paul Douglas, Justine Smith, Josh Thomson, Jamaine Ross. Dai Henwood is a fucking master. That’s leaving out a bunch of people, too; the local scene is ridiculously strong at the moment.
This may be dumb and pretentious, and feel free to edit this out: there’s a NY rapper called Ka who is just a behemoth. His efficiency is through the roof; there is not a misplaced word in like four or five albums, and it makes me want to work to be that precise. That’s just me wanting more people to listen to Ka.
Part of your signature look is your facial hair. What has more power: the moustache, the goatee, or the full beard?
Tbh I’ve been considering getting rid of it all. Very sick of it at the moment.
Undeniably a moustache is the funniest facial hair, a truth that goes back to Groucho Marx and Chaplin. It’s like an underline on your facial expressions.
Would you rather tandem bike ride and picnic with Winston Peters, do soap carving with Judith Collins, or go to a full moon party with John Key?
Full moon party with John Key. I don’t drink anymore, and I think I could get some real incriminating stuff on him by the end of the night. That’d be worth a million, I reckon.
What’s your favourite movie trilogy and why?
My flat has been doing trilogy watches throughout lockdowns. Planet of the Apes is really, really good, the Maze Runner is all over the show, Hunger Games are fine, Scream holds up. Bourne movies do a cool thing in numbers two, three, and I think four? Where they repeat an action sequence during a car chase, but every time Bourne improves. We just watched Oceans 12 and 13 back-to-back last night – I’m on a real caper buzz. Love me a caper.
You’re based in Auckland; what was the first thing you did when Level 3 began?
Started getting takeaways, and I haven’t stopped, and now my blood feels slow.
Chocolate, caramel, or strawberry sundae. Why?
Chocolate every time. Don’t mess with the classics.
Where can we see you?
Seven Sharp once or twice a week, and on Twitter @Rhyspect and Instagram @rhysmathewson. But I’m very bad at social media – generally, it bums me out.