Checking In with Matt O'Brien
Three years ago, Canadian comedians, Matt O’Brien and his wife, Julia Hladkowicz moved to Los Angeles for work. Now they’re back home in the midst of The COVID-19 pandemic-- just as they were starting to rebuild their careers in The United States: “I just felt safer in my home country. I really, really hate that Trump is in charge down there and every day I’d wake up to something new and dumb he was doing and I just had enough.Also, having good healthcare up here seemed like too good of a thing to pass up right now.” Matt explained.
Prior to the outbreak, Matt had been steadily working on various video projects such as his “Dumb Green Screen Videos”. Usually posted on Twitter, Matt would take suggestions from followers for things he could edit with a green screen in a short period of time. Eventually, this turned into a live show:
“I did a live version of it at UCB Sunset in L.A. and it actually turned out great.I’d have comedians act out a suggested scene in front of the green screen. I’d record them and dump the footage on my computer. Then while they did a 10 minute stand up set, I would edit a finished video. Sometimes the videos were a bit of a mess but that just added to the charm of the show, I think?!”
Additionally, Matt has been reviewing cheap wines for some time, which will likely progress to “other liquids around the house” as self-isolation continues. “I’m working on a new one right now. Luckily, we drove from L.A. so I have all my props and filming equipment. I also have a couple of cheap bottles from the dollar store so it should keep the reviews coming for a little bit at least,” he continued.
When speaking about his work, Matt said that it has to be viewed with an open mind: “I like to make weird, goofy things and some people might not get them, but I think if you just realize they’re supposed to be goofy you’ll have more fun with them.”
Possibly the most popular videos Matt and Julia have done so far are their reenactments of the hit TV series, Frasier. Julia and Matt play all of the characters, including Eddie, the dog. While the videos definitely fall into the “weird/goofy” category, people don’t seem to mind. The short clips have been collectively viewed over 80 000 times! They have also received praise from Peri Gilpin who played Roz and even Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill!
“I think it’s insane!I knew people liked Frasier, but I had no idea people would find so much entertainment value in them.I especially didn’t think any of the cast of the actual show would see them and especially didn’t think my childhood (and adulthood) hero, Mark Hamill, would see them.With everything being so crazy right now, making these videos has made me very happy and is absolutely keeping me sane…. All my live shows have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, but other than that, my ability to make videos at home hasn’t changed. If anything, I feel busier than ever.”
Despite the excitement these videos have brought to his self-isolation period, like everyone else, Matt is ready for the pandemic to be over: “I just want to go to a busy restaurant and have an overly-expensive, crowded, loud meal around humans again.”
While his career-path may look a little different right now, Matt O’Brien still had some advice for other aspiring comedians and actors wishing to follow in his footsteps: “It’s a lot of ups and downs but just be persistent and consistent. A friend of mine told me advice that I think about at least once a day, to be ‘undeniable’ and I think that’s a good thing to remember. No matter what you do, do it so well that you are undeniable at what you do.”
Photo courtesy of Matt O’Brien.
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