While we may not agree on the meaning of Matt Ralston's name, one thing we can all agree upon is that he is a very good comedian. Need proof? Watch a few of his videos at Ugo.com (located here). You can also visit his MySpace page at MySpace.com/MatthewRalston to learn more about him, and maybe even find out why he has an obsession with banana pancakes.
Q: What three words would you use to describe yourself?
MR: Lean, mean, fighting machine. That's four though.
Q: When did you first know that you wanted to do stand-up as a career?
MR: When I was in the fourth grade, everyone in my class wrote stories. We just had to. One day, all of our parents came to class and we read our stories out loud to the class. Instead of reading my story, I just decided to do a bunch of material about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I didn't know what I was doing, and I really weirded out everyone in the room, and I wasn't funny. When I was done, my teacher said
"Matt, that's not what you were supposed to be doing. What you were doing was, like, stand-up comedy."
And I said "That's what I want to do."
And right there I made up my mind. Of course, I lived in Alaska, so I didn't get to perform until I was eighteen, and I SUCKED really bad for about two years. Then, all of a sudden, I got funny, and then I got a little funnier and a little funnier, and now I've been doing it for over five years. But, I knew in fourth grade. Mrs. Liepzig. I email her stuff that I do sometimes. I don't know if she gets them. I need to call her and thank her.
Q: Going to school in Seattle, how did you deal with the constant pressure to consume twenty cups of coffee a day?
MR: I don't drink coffee. I don't like it. It gives you bad breath. That's what I remember from school, the teacher always crouching down to help you with a math problem, and the coffee breath lingering around, coming at you like a bull charging through the gates, or whatever, disgusting.
But in college I drank so much alcohol that I didn't really have room for coffee. People in Seattle are crazy with their coffee. It's dark and bitter, like Seattle and its people sometimes. Coffee is gross. It stains your teeth and gives you bad breath. You may as well smoke cigarettes.
Q: What's your favorite club that you've performed in?
MR: The Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach is awesome. The Improv in Tempe is great, and the one in San Jose is awesome. Of course, the club that I started out at, The Comedy Underground in Seattle, will always be at the top of my list. It brings back some good and bad memories. It's owned by a pimp, and the waitresses are crack heads, for the most part. It's dirty and sticky, the nachos and the pizza are disgusting, you get rednecks in there yelling and heckling you, and you get the people who think they're politically correct, who don't laugh at anything. And you have the comics who have been down there working, although not getting paid, for like, ten, twenty, thirty years.
Open mic night is a freak show displaying the worst that society has to offer. But there's so much talent there as well. And the weekend shows are incredible. So much talent. What a place.
Q: What's the biggest misconception that people have about comedians?
MR: That they're funny. Most comedians are not funny. They are annoying. They illicit fake smiles and uncomfortable shuffling in innocent people who just want to be left alone at the bar - but no, you have to put up with a guy passing bits off as a conversation, dressed stupidly for entertainment's sake. I hate comedians. I'm friends with some of them though.
Q: We like to do as much research as possible before doing an interview, which may explain why we checked the meaning of your name through a baby name website. After minutes and seconds of research we discovered that the name Matt Ralston means "Gift of God" from "Ralph's town." Our question is, were you born in the town of Ralph, or have you been living a lie your entire life?
MR: I think the "Ralph's Town" meaning is, like, Old English or something. The word "Ralston" is Scottish Gaelic. It's a term used to describe the act of rolling a large stone down a hill to crush enemies. So, Ralston means "Rolling Stone." People from the East coast can't say "Ralston" properly, from what I've noticed. They really butcher it.
Q: How much time do you spend practicing your act, and do you prefer to try out new bits in a club setting or in front of friends first?
MR: I would never try out a bit for a friend. I try out new bits in front of audiences. Usually the bits that I think are hilarious bomb, and the ones that I don't really like do well.
Q: Who are some of your favorite comedians?
MR: I like a lot of guys. Dave Attell, Dave Chapelle, Louis C.K., Daniel Tosh, Nick Swardson, BJ Novak, Bill Hicks and Mitch Hedberg... and a lot more. And there are guys who are hilarious that just work the road, not L.A. guys, like Bengt Washburn, Auggie Smith, Jeremy Whitman, and all those ones.
Q: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to inform us about?
MR: Uhh, watch Last Comic Standing. I hope I didn't misspell too many things here.
Q: I say "wombat" and you say...
MR: Banana pancakes.