Standup comedy is a tough sport. It can take years to train and hone your craft, and the chances of getting drafted to the big leagues are still slim. So a guy who's earned a place at Chelsea Lately's roundtable and a minor role on an already-canceled NBC comedies has done pretty well for himself. That's the case for funny man Matt Braunger (yeah, he knows it's hard to pronounce).
Braunger cut his teeth in Chicago like many comics before him and got his big Hollywood break as one of the two white dudes on the final season of MADtv. He might look familiar for his annoying role on the short-lived Up All Night, but now with two standup albums out, he's already dropped by almost any talk show you can think of and continues to make a living making us laugh. Before he joins the other comics at Friends of Nature Festival in Miami, we got a chance to speak with Matt about sitting at Chelsea's table, the woes of being so tall, and which late night talk show host has the best green room.
New Times: Did you get started in improv and then move to stand up or vice versa?
Matt Braunger: Started in improv in Chicago. Then stand-up maybe a year after.
I've chatted with a few MADtv cast members. It sounds like you really had to fight for some air time. Did you experience that on set?
No, I never had to fight for air time. Mostly because Eric Price and I were the only white males in the cast. We had to cover a lot of pop culture together.
Do you want to start to be taken more seriously as an actor or revel in standup glory?
Man, what a question. I guess it comes down to what I'm better at, which is probably stand-up, because I do it more. There are so many amazing actors out there that do really, really hard stuff on stages and screens. I'd like to be taken seriously, at least. For both.
Is it ok if I Maya Rudolph fangirl out on you right now? Be honest, is she really that cool?
Yep, she's as cool as you think she is. Hilarious, has all these kids, and just the nicest. I miss working with her even though our characters rarely crossed paths on the show.
You have done all the big talk shows. Which one has the best green room and why?
Has to be Conan's. There's snacks and drinks and a PS2 with a TV. I don't really even play video games, but it's nice that it's there.
Cool to see you get lots of time on Chelsea's Roundtable. I heard you only get the topics a few hours in advance of showtime. Do you find yourself always writing entertainment jokes when a story comes out just to be safe? Are you more into pop culture now because of your involvement with the show?
Yeah, we get them maybe two hours before we tape. I never write anything ahead, mostly because I never write much of anything in the way of pop culture commentary. That is, anything you'd find in US Weekly or whatever. I'm not more into pop culture, but the great thing about doing the show is it makes me write jokes about it. Basically, it's really good exercise.
So it seems like you are pretty tall. Do you have to reach for thinks a lot?
God, I've always had to reach for things for people. Not as much, probably, as Bo Burnham or Shaq, but a lot. Getting the spaghetti pot from the top shelf in the kitchen for my mom is something I've always remembered doing.
I chatted with Greg Behrendt about a year ago and he dropped your name and Nikki Glaser's, and you are both playing FON Fest. So that's weird. Who do you think are the comics to watch?
That's nice of him. Love Greg. Offhand, in the fest I'd say Ron Funches, Emily Heller, James Adomian, and Brooks Whelan. Solid, solid comics. However, I'm biased because I'm their friend and I see a lot of their material. Really, there isn't a dud in the bunch. I'm looking forward to watching everybody.
You know what you and Greg Behrendt have in common? Really difficult last names.
It's true. Mine is sneakily tricky, his more straight-ahead tricky. People always say my last name with a soft G, but it's with a hard one. That H in Greg's just screws everybody up when they see it for the first time.
You have two comedy albums out right now. Which one is better? Zing!
Ha! If I had to pick, maybe the first (Soak Up the Night)? I love them both, though. There's just something about your first. Comedy album and sexual partner.
What is your favorite kind of sandwich?
That's like choosing between my children! If I had children. Okay, for now I'll go with my son a Bahn Mi.
Friends of Nature Music Festival. With Wyatt Cenac, Nikki Glaser, Matisyahu, and others. Saturday and Sunday, November 9 and 10. Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr., Key Biscayne. The show starts at 11 a.m. and tickets cost $50 to $1000 plus fees. Call 305-960-4600 or visit fonfest.com.