Matty Field can be counted upon to regularly take to area stages to delight Milwaukee audiences with his rapidly growing and ever-improving arsenal of risque, unabashedly absurd, and downright hilarious material. Lately, the four-year comedy vet’s name can be found on flyers and event listings for local showcases as much as (or more often than) virtually every other Milwaukee comic, which is rendered all the more impressive upon learning Field actually hails from West Bend. While, the 30,000-some city is a 35- to 45-minute drive from most Milwaukee venues that book him, the semi-considerable distance the commuter comic is surely taxing on his gas tank and his free time, but good for his spirit and a boon to his act.
Before West Bend’s premier funnyman performs as part of two shows here this weekend, Milwaukee Record spoke to Field about his introduction to the Milwaukee comedy scene, other markets he hopes to break into, and what it was like performing an hour of material to six people in Rhinelander.
Milwaukee Record: Technically, you aren’t even a Milwaukee-based comic, since you’re from West Bend. Yet I still see you on stage here more than I see a lot of other Milwaukee comics. Do you feel like this is your home base of sorts?
Matty Field: It’s definitely where I cut my teeth, and I have the most connections to Milwaukee comedy, so that’s where most of it happens. It’s split pretty evenly between Oshkosh and Milwaukee, but I’ll perform for whoever will have me. Part of my goals for this year is just to do as many shows as possible and expand to as many different cities as possible.
MR: Yeah, and one of those new cities recently was Rhinelander? What was that experience like?
MF: I will say the overall weekend was a good time. The actual show itself was a big flop because of incredibly low attendance. I think there were six paid people, and I think if you count staff and stuff, maybe it was 10 people. But I like road trips and that show ended up being a cold email from me to the Hext Theatre in Rhinelander, just asking if I could do, like, a one night only hour [set]. They were on board with it, so I did it. Even though there were only like 10 people to watch it happen, I’m proud that in the four years or however long I’ve been doing it—I can comfortably and confidently do an hour of material.
MR: That’s also a really good experience if you’re not quite sure about, like, 15 minutes of that hour. You can weed out some things or try out some new tags.
MF: Yeah, or if it would’ve sucked completely, there’s only 10 people who saw me suck that bad.
MR: So you mentioned you do Oshkosh—The Backlot up there—and you do Milwaukee a lot along with some stuff in Chicago, but what are a few places you definitely want to hit this year?
MF: I definitely want to do Comedy [Club] On State. I definitely want to do that. Now that I’ve had my first dip into Chicago, the response from the crowd and the other comics that were down there was really good. I think if you get in with the right people in that area, then you’re more likely to get on shows. I’ve had two other false starts in Chicago, two booked shows that ended up just getting cancelled, but I finally got on there and overall the show there was rad, so I definitely want to as much as I can down there, too.
MR: I want to backtrack a little bit. You mentioned that you cut your teeth in Milwaukee. Why here? Was it just the general proximity [to West Bend] or was there a person here who led you to do this?
MF: My first open mic experience was actually all the way up in Neenah. So I drove pretty far to do an open mic. The community of comedians up there at this particular club—it’s not even there anymore. It was called The Comedy Quarter—didn’t want to talk to me. I was an outsider and they didn’t really laugh at my stuff. I still caught the bug after I finished, so I was looking for a closer place and, luckily, my place is only about 35 minutes from Milwaukee.
MR: And from somewhat of an outsider’s view, I always see your name on flyers and event listings here. You seem to basically be another Milwaukee comedian, even though you have this slightly inconvenient drive that you make frequently. Do you feel like you’ve been adopted?
MF: Yeah, I’d say I was from the jump. When Comedy Café was doing their open mic every week, I started doing it there. Caste Of Killers kind of had a presence there and right away, Jason Hillman, Lara Beitz, and that whole crew were all really responsive. They included me in things and it was so much warmer than they Neenah scene. It was the same material, but it just landed better here.
MR: It seems like your material works here so well because you’re willing to take some risks on stage. You talk about your vasectomy and having a “sixsome” and you throw the Nazi sign. Stuff like that.
MF: None of my shit is breaking ground in any way, but the stuff I like is sort of absurdist. I’m just a fan in general of the absurd, and there definitely crowds in Milwaukee that are receptive to that. Then if I go out of this area, it all depends. A lot of the crowds will be super young, and I’m not. In the local scene, I’m definitely one of the ancients. I’m 35, and it affects the material I’m doing. If I’m doing a crowd that’s all 23 years old or whatever, they’re probably not going to identify with any of my dad material. But I’ve built up an arsenal where I can do a room of young people and I can do a room of parents.
MR: So it’s like a mixed bag or a la carte material where you can slot in some stuff once you get a handle of the audience?
MF: Sure, and I have different endings for jokes, where I can push one joke a lost further where it gets more absurd or more gross, but I have a point at which I can cut it off or expand depending on the reaction.
MR: “Choose your own adventure” comedy.
MF: Yeah, totally.