*November tour dates have been cancelled
Comedian Matt Braunger comes to Charlotte Nov. 4 at The Comedy Zone. You may know Braunger from his recurring role as a cast member on the popular TruTV series “How to Be a Grown Up” or as a cast member on MADtv.
You have a lot going on right now. Your podcast on Nerdist, “The Ding-Donger” and Netflix recently released your comedy special, “Big, Dumb Animal.” Tell me a bit about those.
Well the podcast, I do once a week. It’s basically like I hitchhike into your life for a half an hour then I jump out. So I just talk about whatever I want to talk about and that’s it. I think my podcast kind of takes your mind off of things and makes you feel less alone. The special came out Sept. 18 on Netflix and it’s doing great. I taped it last year and I’ve just been real happy with it. If people come to the show in Charlotte, they should know I’m not doing anything from the special. So if you want to watch the special first and get to know me, feel free.
What kinds of things do you discuss on your podcast, “The Ding-Donger,” and how does that material differ from your specials?
Oh, it’s a lot looser! It’s not as tight as a comedy routine, but I try to keep it entertaining. My whole M.O. is to not waste anyone’s time who wants to give that attention to me. That’s really all it comes down to. I’ll basically talk about something that has happened to me that day or that week. Like most comics I keep as notepad in my pocket, so if someone says something really crazy I’ll just write it and tell the story.
How do you gather material? Is anything off limits for you?
No, not really. It’s really how you paint it. I don’t go out of my way to make anything funny, but if it strikes me as funny I’m going to talk about it. It’s basically life experience and whatever I take in or observe that strikes me as funny. Generally speaking when people say, “Where’s the line in comedy?” I don’t really think there is a line because you’ll have a comedian come along and talk about something you could never think was funny and will talk about it in a certain way that doesn’t exclude people and will make it funny. I’m not too into people trying to be the comedy police. But I understand it’s okay to be offended, absolutely. I certainly am by a lot of the things I see … eye of the beholder is what it comes down to.
So, are people who attend your show in Charlotte, Nov. 4 at The Comedy Zone going to hear some fresh jokes?
Oh, yeah! Absolutely! All new hour. Sometimes when people really know your stuff they’ll want to hear some of your old stuff, sometimes at the end of the set I’ll ask, if I haven’t covered something you wanted to see. If it’s been on a special or on an album, I try not to do it much longer after that. Just for the fans and people to see new stuff.
As a comedian, which is harder: a podcast or a live show?
When you have an audience it’s going to be a little more difficult because you’re going to have to bring it and have stuff people are going to enjoy. I know Bill Murray said that on Saturday Night Live about going to movies, it’s not as fun because you don’t have an audience that responds to it right then and there, you don’t have that validation. There are times when I’ll say stuff on the podcast and I’ll wonder “Was that funny?” It’s just weird talking to literally no one in the moment … and then this audience of a couple thousand that responds to you a week later. It’s hard to say which is harder, but they both definitely have their challenges.
You have a pretty big social media presence. If we see something on one of your pages it’s usually on all of your social media accounts across the board, Vine, Twitter and Facebook included. What would you say is the importance of social media as an entertainer?
I think it’s up to the individual. I think people 10-20 years younger than me, they deal with it a lot more effectively than I have for their careers. Literally what it comes down to is I do it for two reasons: to get information for shows out, which is boring and to have fun, to do things I think are funny. It’s just a way to get your voice out to people. Sometimes I wish I had that aptitude that other people have used to get millions and millions of followers. But at the same time, I feel like once you build up that audience you’re almost of hold to it … I try not to get bogged down to that stuff. I’m in it for the long haul … For me, the minute it stops being fun is the minute I don’t want to do it anymore.
Do you ever test jokes online?
I used to think if you tweet a joke it’s just like getting it copyrighted, but then I forgot how people could just copy and paste. I do try not to tweet too much, because that just gets annoying … I just try to be economic with it and not smother everybody.
Who are some of your favorite people to follow?
There’s so many. One of my oldest friends in the comedy world is Kyle Kinane and he’s so fun to follow because he’s such an old man curmudgeon. Obviously Rob Delany, he’s still the best on twitter. I really like Julieanne Smolinski (@BoobsRadley).
What would you say is the highlight of your career?
For where I was at the time, I really have to say doing comedy on the David Letterman Show, the last episode of the year in 2008. That was the last guest of 2008. He called me over to the couch and talked to me and I told him a story. We stood up after the lights went out, he shook my hand and told me I was funny. Then he went upstairs, I took some pictures with the crew and then I went out a side door. They’re like, “Great Job!” and the door slams behind me and I was alone on an empty cold New York street. That’s how fast it goes. At the time you just can’t beat it. You grow up watching this person, such a strong individual. I feel like that’s kind of what’s missing from late night television. Other than a woman or person of color obviously, but someone who has this strong opinion. I’ve still yet to have done something that felt more magical than that.