A life in stitches

Like many co­me­di­ans, Rose Matafeo reck­ons she is more of an in­tro­vert than the ex­tro­verted “horn­dog” who wowed this year’s Ed­in­burgh Fringe Fes­ti­val. Michele He­wit­son caught up with the ris­ing star and cro­chet ex­po­nent.

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Like many co­me­di­ans, Rose Matafeo reck­ons she is more of an in­tro­vert than the ex­tro­verted “horn­dog” who wowed this year’s Ed­in­burgh Fringe Fes­ti­val. Michele He­wit­son caught up with the ris­ing star and cro­chet ex­po­nent.

Rose Matafeo likes a bit of bleak. “I do. I re­ally do,” she says, on the phone from Lon­don, where she now lives. “Oh, I’m rel­a­tively bleak.” So here’s a funny joke: the rel­a­tively bleak Auck­land-raised co­me­dian won this year’s Ed­in­burgh Com­edy Award. She had an­other thought about her self-pro­claimed bleak­ness: “Just be­cause I speak loudly on stage and scream and shout and all that shit prob­a­bly doesn’t seem all that bleak.

“But,” she says, cheer­fully, “I’ve got a dark side.”

She re­alised, she told me in 2015, that “I might be an in­tro­vert, ha, ha, be­cause I took a test on­line. I’m like, ‘I’m sure I’m an ex­tro­vert’. Then I read all this stuff, such as: ‘When you go out with peo­ple and you’re talk­ing to peo­ple, do you get en­ergy from them or do you feel your en­ergy is be­ing sapped?’ And I feel like my en­ergy is be­ing sapped.”

The Ed­in­burgh Fringe Fes­ti­val com­edy award is, as the Lis­tener’s Books & Cul­ture ed­i­tor Rus­sell Bail­lie tweeted, pretty much the com­edy equiv­a­lent of the Man Booker. Steve Coogan has won it; so have Dy­lan Mo­ran and Han­nah Gadsby. The Guardian called Matafeo “a near-per­fect co­me­dian”.

She met Coogan – he pre­sented her award, a cheque for £10,000 and “a big plas­tic award thing”. She came over all fan girl. “It was ab­so­lutely crazy. He gave me a hug and said ‘con­grat­u­la­tions’ and I’m, like, ‘Nice to meet you.’” She says this in a squeaky lit­tle voice, like a twee­nie meet­ing Tay­lor Swift. “Then I gave an aw­ful speech and went home. It was shit, I had noth­ing pre­pared. I for­got to thank peo­ple. It was a bit of a dis­as­ter, re­ally. A true in­di­ca­tion of how un­ex­pected it was.”

She loves Coogan. So do I. But what’s funny about him? His com­edy is so bleak and sad, isn’t it? “Well, yeah. But I think that’s my favourite type of com­edy – that ut­ter bleak­ness.

“But, no, maybe I’m not bleak. I’m hy­per-emo­tional. Maybe that’s the prob­lem.”

That might be a handy trait for a co­me­dian. Is it all right be­ing hy­per-emo­tional? “Yeah, if it’s funny – only if it’s funny. But I think I have no prob­lem shar­ing the per­sonal side. Most ob­ser­va­tional com­edy, I think, has to be a bit emo­tional and a lit­tle bit true, and it seems that I’m very much that kind of co­me­dian now.”

We can fairly safely say that she is our most cel­e­brated horn­dog (the name of the show for which she won the award). I don’t ac­tu­ally know what a horn­dog is, I tell her. “There are,” she says, “def­i­ni­tions of it on the in­ter­net.” That is just mis­chief-mak­ing.

The per­son she is on stage is, of course, a height­ened ver­sion of her­self. “Yeah, ab­so­lutely I think it is. I’m not loud at all. In real life, I’m very shy and quiet. I’m not very shy and quiet! But I’m not that en­er­getic. How­ever you think about me on stage, just think that I’m 10 times worse than that in real life.”

Peo­ple who see her on stage of­ten fall in love with her. They think she’s their new best friend, or that she is just like them. In real life, she is an aw­ful per­son, or so she says. “I’m aw­ful, guys!” But then she fails to of­fer proof of her aw­ful­ness.

What she re­ally means, I think, is that she is re­ally bor­ing. She likes to do cro­chet. She plans to spend some of her prize money on an arm­chair. An arm­chair! “I want to get an arm­chair that I can sleep in and sit in and it’s, like, a beau­ti­ful colour and I can do all my work in it but not do work in it.” No, she’d sit in it and watch the telly and do her cro­chet.

“I’m a rel­a­tively am­bi­tious per­son,” she

“I’m not crazy. I’m gen­uinely am­bi­tious to keep do­ing this for as long as I can. I com­pletely un­der­stand if I can’t.”

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