Open Letter From Matt Okine About His Year Off

Matt Okine Matt Okine

This piece was published before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Matt Okine has been pretty busy.

In his year off, he's become a dad, written a book, written and starred in a TV show. . . The usual stuff.

Anyway, he's back with a new stand-up show called 'Solo Diner', which will be making its way around Australia and is sure to be filled with new material touching on what we've missed since he's been gone.

Before he presents it though, he pens an open letter about what's been going on in his life.

“Last night I saw a friend win $4,000 on the pokies and I woke up wondering if he still had any of it left. The messages he’d sent me at 4:30am make me think not. 4:30am is a rough time of day.

I’m back touring after a year off. I had a baby, wrote a book, made a TV show. Lots of things.

I filmed a student film and in between takes, I mentioned that 'I had my school formal in this room' and one of the students said, 'lol I was two years old then. . .' I felt like an old man. 'Oh yes, there were many bottles of soda pop and the disc jockey cranked the gramophone and we all did Usher's U-turn!'

I wonder how long until my daughter is embarrassed by me.

There are tell-tale signs of ageing: I wake up sore, and my hair is going, and I actually think cooked fruit is a good dessert.

Having a baby changes you. If you’ve ever looked around your house and thought 'This place isn’t messy enough…’, then have a baby. If you’ve ever thought, ‘I haven’t had nearly enough colds and flus this month’, then have a baby. If you hate sleep, or you simply want to make plane rides a truly miserable experience for yourself and everyone around you. . . Have a baby.

I spend every minute thinking about my daughter though. She’s just the best. Inspiring. Funny. I wonder who she’s going to grow up to be, and I desperately hope that I’ll be around to meet that person. My own mother didn’t get that opportunity with me. I guess that's what my book is about. It's a good book, I promise.

The TV show exists, too. And I'm proud of that. It's hard to make one season of TV, let alone two. Nobody tells you how many hurdles there are. I feel like Jana Pittman (although I look far more like John Steffenson). Episode five of season one was set in Sri Lanka, but of course we couldn't afford to send a crew of 50 on the red eye to Colombo, so we shot the whole episode at a motel in Terrey Hills. A lady who was attending her uncle's funeral made friends with us and ended up being an extra. She said it was the highlight of her trip. That's the real movie magic, right there.

And now I'm back on stage, doing a brand-new show. My first in two years. And it's so good to be back. I like the energy. The immediacy. The knowledge that whatever does or doesn't happen, it's all on me. That the feedback is direct, and honest. No ratings. No algorithms. No #sponcon.

I have a new favourite job now though. One that I'll be employed in for the rest of my life. I really do love being a dad. People ask if I'm getting much sleep, but I used to do breakfast radio, so I'm more than ready for the early starts; and – mind you – at least these days it's my daughter crying, and not me. 4:30am is a rough time of day.”

Matt Okine was due to play comedy festivals which have since been cancelled due to COVID-19.



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