One of the wackiest shows at this year's Fringe may well be Matt Hale's TOP FUN! 80s Hypnosis Spectacular. Born and raised in the UK but now based in Australia, the multi-award winning comedy hypnotist will be inviting audiences to join him on stage for an hour of high-octane fun and spectacular silliness.
We caught up with Matt as he was packing his Day-Glo shell suit and Rubik's queue ahead of the flight to Britain and asked him about the show, his favourite 80s memories and the time he spent touring the world as Crap Elvis.
From the title to promo shots with you wearing tight white shorts and Day-Glo, it seems your show's a little bit different..?
Ha! I love bouncing onto stage looking, dancing and acting ridiculous, yet having the absolute time of my life. It sets the expectancy for the sense of fun and energy that the audience will have up there with me. So, no creepy stares, no swinging watches, and a 100% chicken free guarantee! With the 80s theme to this show, it's such a party of a show anyway, whether you're on stage or in the audience (always your choice!).
What's the easiest way to describe hypnosis to someone who's not seen a show before?
Focussed imagination. Kinda like thinking about something so much it starts to feel real in that moment. Much like we do when we get caught up in a good movie. You know the dog's not really dead - but you're still bawling your eyes out anyway!
This not taking yourself seriously seems to have been quite the theme for your life - Crap Elvis?
Oh, wow, that was a joke that got wayyyyyy out of hand! I accidentally ended up travelling the world for a year in the world's worst Elvis suit. A $29.99 impulse buy for a farewell party, my partner thought it was a waste of money, so I took it with me. Photos in front of the world's major landmarks in it lead to all sorts of weird experiences. However, it also got me kicked out The Louvre in Paris. On the flipside, I did get to appear in a Mongolian TV ad for noodles. The year culminated with me releasing an album of Elvis parodies and performing at Australia's biggest Elvis festival.
You're Australian-based but originally from the UK: were you a British comedy fan?
Always been mad for it. Growing up in Welwyn Garden City just outside London meant I would head in regularly, whether to The Comedy Store or one of the old pub rooms. I'd see people like Jo Brand, The Rubber Bishops (Bill Bailey's old double act), Phil Jupitus and John Hegley.
I still see a lot of stand-up in Australia, but devour a lot of UK stand-up online. Loving a sense of pure silliness, in recent years been really enjoying Mawaan Rizwan, Spencer Jones and Lou Sanders amongst many others.
What's your 80s hitlist for each of the following?
Films: Ferris Bueller, The Blues Brothers, This Is Spinal Tap.
Television: The Comic Strip Presents, Friday Night Live, The Young Ones. I actually used bits from The Young Ones to get elected as pupil governor at school! In my proposal speech to the assembly I would say things like "as your pupil governor, I will look out for the interests of each and every one of you", then play a bit of Vyvyan saying "That is a complete and utter lie" etc. Did the job!
Music: My show is full of fun 80s classics, but here's a wide selection of what I was into in the 80s:
Pop: Wham! for the pure joy (I was actually at their final Wembley gig). Frankie Goes To Hollywood - was a massive fan.
Rock: The Alarm - Welsh rock band.
Rap: Doug E Fresh - The Show. Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock - It Takes Two.
House: Royal House - Can You Party (his then-"new" sound called house music lead to a passion that became another one of my other careers as a club DJ. Still lay down the odd set here and there).
Thing: Raleigh Burner BMX - absolutely loved that bike only slightly more than I loved the Raleigh Chopper I had previously. But I could wheelie the Burner all the way up my road.
Interesting fact: I was actually in Samantha Fox's video for Touch Me. I was only 15, but me and my mate Craig bunked off school and went to Heaven nightclub in London the afternoon it was filmed. Granted we're only in it for about two seconds, but I'm clearly on my mate's shoulders in the crowd pumping my fingerless-gloved hand in the air.