First Gig Worst Gig

Matt Bragg

Matt Bragg

It was the first of times, it was the worst of times. And now it's Bragg time - Matt Bragg, who can be found gigging across the south east over the next few months, in preparation for a new departure.

"I'm currently mostly in the clubs working stuff together for my debut tour," Bragg explains. "The beauty of a debut tour is that a fair chunk of it is my favourite stuff from the past eight years, so a lot of it is already written, it's just figuring out the order."

He's playing all the right notes - but then he's used to touring, having opened for some big ones over the years; Ricky Gervais, John Bishop, Harry Hill. Warming-up is in the blood, as we'll discover below, and he'll be match-fit.

Those club shows, for Anglia Comedy, are 11th July in Hertford, 6th September in Spalding, and 13th September in Bishop's Stortford, alongside the likes of Nick Helm, Suzi Ruffell, and Reginald D Hunter. Then his solo tour begins - well, he actually did a mini one last year, in Scandinavia, Paris and the Netherlands. So this is the debut British leg, beginning in Birmingham, and then...

"I can't off-hand remember which cities," he says, "but I did six last year and loved it." Having gigged for nearly a decade now, he's entertained a lot of locals. "Hopefully some of them will come back," says the humble Bragg, "and I've also done tour support in a few, so that does help."

Now, let's begin with a win.

Matt Bragg

First gig?

I don't remember that much to be honest. I know some acts count every gig but I've never really been one of them. It was the back end of 2015, in a bar in Windsor (because that was far enough away from everyone I know), about 15 acts on and I won a tiny cup that sadly got stepped on during a house move. Real 24 carat plastic.

Favourite show, ever?

This changes year on year and I don't think I could pick [just] one.

Very early days, me and three mates who I started with went to the Isle of Wight to do a gig for very little money, made sure we missed the last ferry and ended up having homemade cocktails in a very dicey B&B room, which is a great memory.

More recently, probably supporting Ricky Gervais at the London Palladium which was a real bucket list venue ticked off. There's plenty more in between them.

Worst gig?

I drove about four hours to a gig on the south coast, about 18 months in, where a homeless man with a can of special brew tried to derail the gig. The promoter tried to take the can off him, there was a scuffle and he ended up WWE-style smashing him through a table.

He was removed but it was a fully glass frontage so while I was on, he was stood behind me threatening everyone in the gig. I did about three minutes, then had to wait until he got tired before I could get back to my car.

Again, plenty more I could've said there...

Matt Bragg

Which one person influenced your comedy life most significantly?

Without a doubt my dad [Bobby Bragg], he was a comedian and warm-up man so I spent my whole childhood watching him and being around comedians. After we lost him I didn't want to lose being around the business I don't think. All round, my hero (he did actually do the warm up on that show [My Hero] with Ardal O'Hanlon).

And he was the voice of Supermarket Sweep, though I'm still yet to cash in on any nepotism. There's no justice.

And who's the most disagreeable person you've come across in the business?

About 200 people in Hartlepool, when I was an open spot. But I don't hold grudges...

Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?

I've been doing a run of shows with four other acts and there's a new bit I've been trying that's ended up just being for them. It's about how seasonal veg on restaurant menus never changes. It never works, but it's good for team morale.

At club gigs, how much of the setlist do you have nailed down in advance, or does it vary?

I usually know how it'll start and then, particularly with the tour coming up, it'll be whatever I need to work on. Unless it's Christmas, then all bets are off and it'll be autopilot greatest hits.

Matt Bragg

Any reviews, heckles or post-gig reactions stick in the mind?

One review said that I "started slow". I did want to write back to clarify that that is the act. Sorry for spoilers, but it starts slow and doesn't really pass the 'leisurely' point.

How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?

Good, I think! The game plan was always to get to the point of touring off my own name, so I can't wait to get out on this one, then build on it and start going into bigger rooms. Lots more work to do but I'm happy with the trajectory so far and I'm really enjoying what I'm doing.

Whether the people of Hartlepool are or not, doesn't bother me anymore. At all. Honestly.


Matt Bragg is performing at several shows for Anglia Comedy in July and September. angliacomedy.com

Matt Bragg: Has Nothing Wrong with Him tours the UK from September. mattbraggcomedy.com

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