Today we chat with Canadian comedy magician, Matt Disero about comedy magic, working new material, and his last show before coronavirus and impacts. “Cruise ships alone are the world’s largest employer of standup comedians.”
Matt talks about hitting his stride just before the coronavirus hit, “I feel like I’m doing the best work of my career” and performing for Marvin Roy.
Matt also shares what magic prop you shouldn’t use a pickle.
All this and more on Magicians Talking Magic Podcast
Listen to Episode 57 | Comedy Magician Matt Disero “Coronavirus killed the Podium”
Watch the full interview with Comedy Magician Matt Disero
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Interview with Matt Disero Audio Transcript
Matt Disero: There's a comic, there's a comic in Denver. He sent me a video, I guess it's going around now, but his last set before the club closed and he's like, you know, who's, you know, who's ready for the zombie apocalypse, the homeless people, someone who's stomach can digest a sock. I don't, I don't know if I want to post content or not. Um, I just had a conversation with someone last night about this. Like, do I, so I posted a video on my show. Is that the right thing to do?
Graeme Reed: I don't know. I'm I personally am hung up on this thing because I feel like if Magic were in variety arts too, we're in the unique art where in comedy, standup comedy, even I think it needs an audience. It needs to be experienced live. It's one of those rare things like music you can broadcast.
Oh. And everything like that and enjoy a song.
Matt Disero: That was the thing too. Have you ever really seen comedian Magician doesn't matter? Have you ever seen anyone really translate to video? Well, like the way they do live almost never. And my stuff is best seen live. Never meant it was ever designed for video. Matt. Thank you so much for joining us on Magicians Talking Magic today for everyone at home. Where in the world right now, where are you currently? I am a North of Toronto in Brenton, Ontario, the land that fund for God, but, uh, you know, I like Brandon crumbling, railway arches, and, uh, cheap abundant drugs. Well, that's always kinda nice, you know, my excessive civic pride right here. So yeah, Brenton, Ontario, just North of Toronto.
Graeme Reed: Now, like most of us, uh, your calendar is probably clear. So why do I need sunglasses?
Where, where, like, what would you have been doing right now? If you, if say things were normal.
Matt Disero: The ironically right now I would have be on the ship that is stuck with the four, 10 passengers and the 146 people. I would be on the sand damn right now. Really? Yep. And then I would have been on the new, I work predominantly for Holland America. So Holland America cruise line. So I would have then gone to the new stock and down for a month. So I have, I have all of April books and like this last week vanished and every corporate event, I had also vantage and yeah, since I was talking to another active on this, since I was 16 years old, I've never had, I've never been unemployed. Okay. This is the first time I've never had anything on my calendar. Since I left the movie theater and became a full time.
This is the first time ever. And it's freaky. I would probably just for you to write, like you go, I have nothing. Okay.
Graeme Reed: Yeah. It's just a, it feels weird. Like, what do you, what are you supposed to do? I guess sometimes it's the feeling that.
Matt Disero: Ball up in a corner. I just cry and go. How long until they take everything I could sell my four year old for some money. Uh, I don't know what to do. Like it is a mess. I'm, I'll be fine. You know, I know some acts that are really gonna hurt and I'm happy that like the Alan Sleight foundation put up some money and the government and stuff, like all kinds of through is a little bit maybe if I'm lucky, if I'm smart, but some guy, I know somebody who I was so broke, he's an actual Brooke.
He doesn't have access to the internet. Can't even apply to Alan's thing. So, Oh my gosh, it looks like I'm so broken. I can't change. Um, so I feel bad for some of these guys. I am so broke. I can't shave. I'm saving money. It's like 1984. Like say it ends like it all just, there's no more show business anymore. It's done. Uh, my last show ended March 2nd in a, I was doing Marvin Magic dinner theater with Jeff Hobson and the evidence it ended. I flew home from LA, like so close to the epicenter of virus down. I'm glad I got out of there. Um, and then if that was it, if that was how I had to end, I go, that's not so bad. I was hanging out with friends. It was a good week. We ate like veins was good shows. It's better than ended on a birthday party or for you, your favorite?
The podium, fuck the podium. It's so, uh, I walk in to Marvin's dinner theater, which is like, um, it's round. I don't know, winter seeing the photos, but it's surrounded rape. It's like a really nice, it's one of the best Magic spaces ever. But, uh, there's no stage. It's just like flat space. Right. Great seats going up. I clock in and Hobson's there and he's like, have your podium backstage. I'll bring it up. You can't imagine how much great, great work I saw hops and do, like, I learned a ton in Washington, a ton. What would be like something that you could share with everyone listening? What would be a key, a couple of key takeaways that you could share from watching Jeff Hobson work. Yeah. Um, I think it's some things I already knew. Like, you know, be of yourself, be in the moment, but um, like I just go, uh, what's that thing where in, um, in improv where they go, Oh yes.
And just, whenever you say comes, he's a master at that. Like Jeff obviously never watching Hobson and we're like, Holy smokes. This guy is intentionally trying to screw this guy up. This, this audience member. There's like, yeah, whatever, boom. Should I just go roll with it? Holy smokes. And also what I learned is, Mmm, old material doesn't have to be crap, man. Like make it your own. And he is the King he's really, I was talking to him in the dressing room about this. It's really about making, finding the funny and making it of yourself. And boy, is he a master at died? It was really cool to watch him work. Wow. Never seen anybody do the same trick with three different routines over three nights. Each one killed. Wow. Just three. Like I have it on video. I'm going to ask them if I can share one of them. Well, can you,.
Graeme Reed: Can you share the effect?
Matt Disero: Yeah. Finger chopper. Okay. Well cool. Oh wow. We were Jeff backstage and we're talking about the finger chopper. Like before I'd seen him do this. I actually set a goal that will be kind of fun to do finger chopper. That'd be a cool effect. Like, and I had this idea for it. I run it past Jeff and Justin. Okay. Then, uh, then we see Hobbs and do it and we're like, okay. Bar has been raised like all these folks. Yeah. It's really great to see. Oh. So yeah, if the world ended, if the world ended after that, I wouldn't be, well, I'd still be upset.
Graeme Reed: It's at least a positive note. Positive show note.
Matt Disero: And what was your last show last month?
Graeme Reed: Oh, for me, I got to headline a comedy club, which is a huge bucket list goal for me. Cause that's a first for me.
Matt Disero: I felt for the first time in a long time, I was like, I'm one of those acts, as you probably know, that likes, like, I'm like, Oh, I like old stuff, like old fart, you know? Uh, but I, I just liked the old stuff. So as Marvins, I think on the last night or the second, last night, I can't recall. Marvin himself comes to the show. Marvin, Roy, just like you just said, I thought I was going to hate, you know, he's going to hate me. I'm like the young Turk. He's not going to like the fact that I'm a comedy Magician cause he's like more of a straight guy. He's going to like the evidence. Uh, but not me. Oh my gosh. And I was backstage. You could ask Jeff and tests. I was freaking out. I'm like, I'm just going to hate me. Like shake. I'm like, I don't, I don't want, I don't want this. Like Magic legend to hate me. And like you walk into a SIM like yeah, my nuts are stuck to my leg.
Graeme Reed: So basically, so right now we have an indefinite amount of downtime, uh, which gives us a lot of time to work on things in our Magic business or on our show.
Have you started to gravitate towards something to work on or a, maybe a specific spot in your business that you're focusing on?
Matt Disero: I am working on material. Hey, don't put a pickle into advantage and bird cage that will end poorly just so you know, don't get drunk and go. I'm going to be creative with the venture in bird, cage and work. Um, so I'm working on a few things to new to one, I think. Well, I think it would be really good. I'm actually pretty, it's a first, I was saying to another friend the other day that all this apocalypse happens. Right. As I feel like I'm doing the best work on my career. I'm just starting to figure it out. After 30 or 30 years in August will be for me to figure it out. And now I've lost momentum, uh, because you know, you want to work this stuff out.
And matter of fact, I think the bird cages right up there, bits in it. Um, got it stinks. You can't get rid of that stupid juice. Um, is he, I'm like, I'm thinking of doing the best work of my career and now it's stalled. So yeah, I'm working on material, the business man, like as you know, I suck right. Everything to do with this. So effectively my manager retired and I think this virus is going to kill off all the agents I worked for. So I'm working on, um, I want to do this thing with a cup or just go out to the street and I'm like, Hey, I need money, buddy.
Yeah, no, it's I don't know. I mean, see, I should work on my business. Should I learn how to edit video trailer and how to do my website? Yes. Will I? Oh, however, I've got through all seven seasons of MacGyver. Oh, and that's pretty good. And I'm working my way through dungeon. Yeah. I'm not doing a whole lot I'm day drinking. Like if day drinking is a job skill, I got that. Uh, I do honestly find I'm stressed drinking. Sure. My neighbors and I are going out. We're spreading out the chairs 610 feet apart so that the COVID cops don't catch us. And uh, we're just, uh, yeah. We're stress drinking. Cause we all have kids. We're worried. Like I don't want to have anything happen to my kids. So I was freaked out that I was bringing it back from Los Angeles. Thank God I came back when I did. So,
Graeme Reed: Um, speaking of that, you do have kids, uh, do you have fun activities for other parents that they can do? Cause I know like we have, I ask all the parents, all the parent Magicians if they have a fun activity, because someone might have something unique to share. Nick Wallace had a really good one. There's this Instagram account of an artist that'll give you like random challenges of a drawing. So like give you three prompts. It has like six eyes. It has a fedora and it's holding flowers. There you go. Have you, have you found anything like that?
Matt Disero: We've been doing the bingo, you know, the walk around, you know, red door, dog. Yeah. The homeless guy who used to be an act, whatever you to check them off. Uh, so he's been doing that. Um, he, my kid is big into Minecraft and I don't really know anything about Minecraft. So we're both learning this together. Like today we just spawned sweet. Mmm it's really cool. So we're doing that, but educational stuff. I'm friends with his teacher on Instagram and Facebook and she has been so remarkably good every day. She sends me new stuff, links to them. Sometimes it's just like a video or I'm in a web cam of a shark and then other things it's educational stuff. So I've been following her lead, like every parent out there now realizes or should, okay. School teachers should make 500, $600,000 a year because now they know what the work is.
Graeme Reed: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm pretty sure this whole crisis is going to make us all aware of how important
Matt Disero: Every store clerk should get 10,000. Like, you know what I mean? Holy smokes. It's not the billionaires.
Graeme Reed: Yeah. And how important everybody is even to like your mechanic, you still might need that done. Or,
Matt Disero: Oh, this is not important. It turns out the company Magicians, we're pretty low. I was like, I posted this meme and I'm like, let's artists. We are here to make you laugh and your darkest hour. And I'm like, yeah, no, there's just the internet for that. Fuck it. Yeah. There's tiger King for that. And I actually thought, when I heard this, the of tiger Chang, I was like, Oh, I know what that's about. I know that guy. Yeah. We did talk to Greg about the tiger thing too. And he had some fascinating remarks. Cause he basically just said, you know, like any industry, there are those people, like the gel exotic. So populated by it though. Yeah. Magic is full of people who are just nuts. Yeah. Yeah. I love it. B. I mean you just hope no one's doing crimes.
I mean you just hope no one's doing crimes.
So why should American taxpayers bail them out? Okay. Ah, I see. So, but still cruise lines are the world, as you know, the world's largest employer of standup comedians. Well actually I honestly didn't know that. I didn't know that. Oh yeah. Car carnival alone. Probably hires no joke. 300 bucks a week. Whoa. Every week, maybe more, maybe more. And then you got the other cruise lines on top of it. So yeah. It'll be hard if they go away or if they stop using entertainment for a long time, a lot of banks are going to be in trouble. Yeah. It's not all of my income, but it's a family. Sure. A bit of my income. So, so worried about that. It could be another shift in the industry as a whole completely because Magic that the years and the decades often sees shifts, right? Like in the eighties and nineties, there's a big comedy club circuit.
Um, and things like that, the way of the dinosaur. And now this will probably sink and then something else will come, but maybe it will be like hologram performing.
Graeme Reed: I don't know what it's going to be. I hope I get to stay home more. Cause I don't want to travel. Yeah. Well my goal in life is always to never, I don't want to go too far to do a show. I always wanted to stay just on land, doing local or corporate. That's all they wanted. That was mine.
Matt Disero: Yeah. W when I started this friendship McFarland this old horrible comment, but I love spreadsheets. Everybody loves Frenchie. We love you friendship if you're watching. Mmm. And he always said, because I was like, man, you're flying all over the place. This is really cool. And he's like, look, I promise you the way you'll know you've won in this business is when you don't have to get on an airplane to work anymore.
And I think he was right now. I realize he was right. I didn't listen. I never listened to any.
Graeme Reed: Who gave you that advice early on? Not to not to listen to anyone's advice.
Matt Disero: That was the only thing I listened to myself. I want to work on like Jamie and Swiss gave me a thing the other night. Okay. It's really good. And I go, he asked me, he says, you know, if you want to know, I'll send it to you. He does. And I just go, Holy smokes. I need to work on that. And so now I'm going to spend the next few days working on that in between dealing with the kid and my day crying and my day drinking. Yeah. I'm trying to forget. I just don't want to lose. I just, I worry, like everything's going to be crap. When I finally get back on stage,.
Graeme Reed: It's going to be a rusty bump to start off.
Matt Disero: Yeah. Some of the other, like the acts are been around longer than me are saying, Oh, it'll just be two weeks and you'll get your act back. Your act is always there. I believe that's true. But all the pickups and the little one liners and the little way you interact, that's going to take awhile to come back. Gatherings are going to probably, I think we're going to end up working for smaller crowds, which has maybe advantageous to Magic like, I probably won't be working 1500 seat theaters. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe I can work on more parlor stuff. Maybe I can. I dunno. Yeah. I w I, I'm not the best guy to prognosticate things in good times. So I don't know. I don't know what to do. Do you have a cup? You're a big reader of Magic right.
Graeme Reed: You read a lot of books, manuscripts and things like that. Are you reading a couple of main resources right now? Uh, I saw my closest videos and he was like, Oh, we gotta go back and revisit the Vernon Chronicles. There's a lot of good work in the Vernon Chronicles. So I pull it up off the shelf and I go, yeah, I'm not interested in it.
Matt Disero: Uh, I saw my closest videos and he was like, Oh, we gotta go back and revisit the Vernon Chronicles. There's a lot of good work in the Vernon Chronicles. So I pull it up off the shelf and I go, yeah, I'm not interested in it.
I haven't bothered with that. I've gone back to cave and his books. Um, I don't know what I got. It was, look, I got the linking ring right here, baby. I'm sorry. I'm going back to cave. And he's books looking at this. Do I think they're valuable resources on like how to structure yourself and then there's a few others, like, um, I almost said Bob farmer. Holy smokes. The Benson book, I think is quite impressive. Yeah. And Todd carded. So Benson by Starlight, I'm looking at it again. And I'm trying to go back through some older stuff, just to look for new things. You know, how much time can you invest into those without having to stop the day drink and then cry and stretch it out. Can we get her a couple of chapters in and then it's done and I want to go watch whatever West Barker is posting, whatever scam he's pulling on some guy in Vegas.
I mean, like, I just go, I don't know. My days are filling up. I wish everybody. Well, I hope that people, you know, okay, seriously. I hope people stay well and, uh, figure out some way forward and all this, my big gripe used to be that, um, right. I was starting to become disillusioned with Magic because I felt like the Magic world became the Magic market. And I was just getting tired of being marketed to, and now I'm starting to see, Oh, maybe that was the way forward. So I hope somebody figures a way out through that and everybody is as well. And maybe we'll often do these big, like zoom things where I'm looking at everybody. And that's what basically, that's how the IBM is going to do its next convention.
Graeme Reed: Oh, I, I, I would, I think so.
Matt Disero: Do you really, do you think that's the way Magic conventions are going to move forward?
Graeme Reed: I wouldn't be surprised if we see at least one or two conventions happen like this,
Matt Disero: All these Magicians are like, man, how do we deal with people touching stuff? And how do they feel about that? And when I was at Marvins, I do this homemade card routine, just rubber chicken, and I finish it and I always get an old woman. Like I try and get as old as possible. So it doesn't look like I'm hitting on her or anything. And uh, I said, you know, there's a gentlemen, a very brave thing to come on stage. So please arrive applause for our wonderful volunteer. And I always extend my hand to shake her hand and she took it and then she pulled me forward and kissed me on the cheek. And I was like, I got the virus now I must have, I don't know. This is like three weeks ago. I thought, Holy fuck. Oh, you can come backstage. I'm like Jeff, where's the pier. I don't know. I'm freaked me out. So it just goes to show you like, if I'm freaking out, probably they are too. So yeah. Think about your material for sure. Like in how you do it,
He can't be, can't be tiger. You just do whatever you want to do any.
Graeme Reed: Matt. Thank you so much for coming on our live show today. I know.
Matt Disero: It's great to be alive.