Daddy Issues Issues is an on-going feature in anticipation of Matt Gubser’s album taping in San Francisco tonight, 4/18/2015. Check back here every Saturday for updates. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.
A random night in a random bar. Jokes, laughs, lulls, vigil outside, baseball on the television. Not sure if these are comedy fans, they’re wearing all black. Not sure if this is a comedy venue, I’ve only heard some mutation of punk blaring as I walk past. Our host, David Naiymar, with an ebb and flow, call and response, lathers an expectation for the audience to hear comics who know their jokes but not quite themselves. David tells a lot of terrorist jokes. A standard night for stand-up.
Matt Gubser has a very unassuming charisma. He doesn’t exploit it, an untapped coolness. Our bartender likes Matt. His notebook is “$2 from CVS”. For some reason the word “PORN” is scribbled wildly at the top of the page Matt’s opened to.
“It’s a momentum-free night” – Matt.
Nobody is killing? Nobody is bombing? It’s hard to gauge because between the stilted chunks of silence are legitimately hearty laughs.
Most of Matt’s night is trying to distill the drama of daddyhood into punchier terms, a feat juxtaposed with the evergreen, youthful disposition of the Bay—go As!
Matt’s not the only dad on the bill—Walker Glenn talked being a new dad, and, on a weirdly all-dude line up, everybody could BE a daddy (lord mercy)—but Matt’s paternity seems unique. Not a lot of hapless victimhood nor “children say/do the wildest things”, but rather an admission that having children makes him… someone who happens to have children. His material reflects a sarcastic aloofness reflective of a proper joker. His voice speaks to a personal truth reflective of an artistic integrity. There’s no gimmick, no kitsch, no sitcom pitch, no “dim-witted dadness”. His parenthood, his relationships, even his diet are just fodder for crisp, slow-cooked, sly observations. Getting said observations over is a matter of time, time that Matt’s making the most of. 7 years in, countless hours committed, a goal of an album recording. Everything counts, even on lukewarm shows.
OJ: Do you find yourself being the only comic with your life experience/style? How much diversity do you bring to any given show?
Matt: In the city, yes. The audiences and comics for the most part tend to be younger. I didn’t even start doing stand up until I was 29. You get out in the ‘burbs and the parenting stuff hits harder, but some of the more political material can make people uncomfortable. I’m fine with that. I think comedy requires you to find ways to be able to effectively communicate experiences that you may not have in common with your audience.
One last thing before lay this down. Apologies if this comes out clumsy, it was my favorite part of the night and I want to accurately articulate.
Matt is the last comic: he has no time constraints, no “light”, and he tells his last joke. It goes over, as has the majority of his set. And, I can’t remember if there was a pregnant pause or an admission of conclusion, but for a moment neither performer or performee knew whether or not to keep going. Everyone is smiling, trying to read the situation, not enough vibe to provoke a decision, on some “end of first date front door” shit. Matt leans forward, maybe even asks if they wanted to hear a little more, before volleying a bit of the ole repertoire (i.e. “the act”, the tight-[insert arbitrary stage time amount]). It doesn’t go over as one expected funny jokes to. The audience shies away, sleepy or spent or cranky. And Matt respects that, respects them, packs up his jokes and calls it a night. A newer, less considerate, more delusional comic, especially 10 days from a recording, probably would have stolen the time, got defensive, razzed the unresponsive comedy-goers, drag the night, abuse their welcome.
Matt doesn’t. Aforementioned charisma. Gentleman comic. A professional peck on the cheek and goodnight. His coolness was cool to watch.