I had the honor of chatting with comedian Matt Holt this past weekend as he prepares for his second year at IndyFringe.
NUVO: Do you really believe that general statement that all comedians are depressed in some way?
Matt Holt: There is some validity to that statement, although I am the more normal element of my peer groups. But I do have friends who are dark, very dark and very twisted. They definitely have past events that led them to this vocation. Now me — I've always been a wise ass, but also love looking for the best opportunity to not get fired.
NUVO: Speaking of not getting fired, and all that goes with it, how did you come to decide to leave the trenches of corporate America and begin comedy full-time?
Holt: Working 50 hours a week in corporate America for two decades took its toll. I could only hit the road a few weeks out of the year, and that's no way to establish a dream. I was just losing my mind at my day job, but I didn't really plan, not financially, anyway. But it all worked out. While performing in Michigan, I caught a film at the theater — and it happened to be George Clooney's Up in the Air. And when Clooney's corporate cleaner character asks one of the individuals he fires, "How much did they pay you to give up on your dream? ... When are you going to go back to what you love?" or something very close to that, I just sat there in the theater, in awe, until the end. Really, I sat there until I was asked to leave. Over the next few weeks, I knew. I sleep with the TV on and when that movie, at that exact scene, woke me several times, I knew I was being given a choice. And I chose to leave and pursue my dream — and I haven't looked back. This will be my 17th year in comedy.
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NUVO: Hey, congratulations! And I should say that any awkward pauses you hear is just me taking notes.
Holt: I'm used to silence.
NUVO: (laughter) Describe for me your time with the cruise lines. I know some of us out here consider that a dream career, but did you?
Holt: Five to six minutes of my act is dedicated to my time with the cruise line. It seemed mysterious and interesting and great in theory, but in actuality, it was really not a good fit for me. It was for Carnival, specifically, but I found the environment to be very corporate, with bosses often terrified of comment cards. A huge part of my act is interacting with the audience, and that was just frowned upon during cruises. They didn't want me in the casino, with the guests at dinner, nor in the bar. It was a very spartan existence on board. And if someone was offended, they could potentially fill out that comment card and then you've had it. After I left, it took me a year to get back into the swing of comedy, even. My time with Carnival felt like my time at a club in Birmingham. Both places you know you don't want to go back to.