Matty Vu says he’s in no rush to again perform comedy in a club or other venue, given COVID-19 concerns, and that’s fine because his latest endeavour seems like a perfect fit for the pandemic.
The Surrey-raised Vu is among 12 up-and-coming Canadian comics featured in The New Wave of Standup series launching Friday, July 17 on the free CBC Gem streaming service.
The 10-minute sets were filmed last February during JFL NorthWest, Vancouver’s Just for Laughs comedy festival.
“I haven’t seen the footage yet, so I might be terrible and have no idea,” said the soft-spoken Vu. “I’m not even sure I’ll watch it, because I hate watching videos of myself. But I hope people watch it, and when the time comes I hope they come out to live shows because there’s no better experience than a live comedy show.”
The Edmonton-born Vu, 34, grew up in Whalley and went to Holy Cross Regional High School before studying criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He now lives in East Vancouver.
“Lover of cross stitching and the Fast and the Furious movie franchise, Matty’s ‘comedy’ style is just as indiscriminate,” a bio proclaims. “Honestly, he’s just trying his best, and hopes you are happy with it.”
Vu said he discovered a passion for performing comedy about five years ago, and has since collected video and audio clips to post at themattyvu.com.
“I signed up for a standup class one night when I was, like, drinking and online shopping, and then I just advanced from there,” he recalled. “I had fun in the class and kept going. I had full intent of just doing the class, and that’d be it… It was something I’d never felt or experienced before. Like, I never did drama in school or anything. My friends weren’t really surprised because I always joked around a lot, but they were more surprised that I was OK in front of a crowd. That’s scary for a lot of people, public speaking.”
Comedy is a side gig for Vu, who is employed in a job related to his criminology studies.
“It’s one of those things I never talk about in comedy,” Vu said. “It’s very separate. And at work I didn’t tell people about my comedy for years. They know now, now that more public things have been happening.”
Last summer, Vu was a semi-finalist in SiriusXM’s Top Comic competition. He didn’t earn enough online votes to win, but the experience validated his decision to enter the world of comedy.
“Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong in comedy, don’t know why – it’s like that fraud complex,” he admitted.
“I love it, it’s great,” Vu added. “I get to interact with a bunch of people, make them laugh and bring joy, hopefully.”
Vu produces the comedy shows “Bloodfeud: Standup vs. Improv” and “Craft and the Furious” at Little Mountain Gallery, and also “Yellow Fever: A Comedy Show,” described as “Vancouver’s only comedy show by Asians for non-Asians (and also Asians). The show aims to break stereotypes and highlight comedy and culture.
“I’ve done shows for five years and the majority of the audiences have not been very diverse,” Vu said. “In a city that has a lot of Asian people in it, it’s weird to see audiences with just white people. There really aren’t a lot of comedy performers of colour, of Asian background, so I kind of wanted to highlight those people. I didn’t expect a lot of Asian people to come out, but it was very nice for that to happen.”
Like with other performing arts, comedy shows have been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are a couple (venues) doing comedy shows again, but I am still very uncomfortable being in a crowded room, so I have no interest in doing that right now,” Vu explained. “I’ve done a few online shows — not Zoom shows but more like a friend recording me in a park and me performing to my one friend recording. That’s still fun.
“I’m OK not performing until the fall, and even if there’s a second wave or whatever, I’m OK taking a step back for even a year,” Vu added. “I’m cool with that. Maybe there’s some Catholic guilt too, about not wanting to get other people sick.”
For now, online showcases like the CBC Gem series will have to do for Vu.
“It’s a diverse group of people, which I love,” he said about the series. “That night was so much fun. There were two shows back to back. I was first in the lineup and I was very nervous, I remember that.”
In addition to Vu, the series also features Salma Hindy (“a Muslim comic from Toronto who also happens to be a biomedical engineer,” according to a news release), Yumi Nagashima (“who arrived in Vancouver by way of Tokyo”), Paul Rabliauskus (“from Poplar River First Nation Reserve in Manitoba”), Al Val (“a bold transgender comic from Toronto”), Ola Dada (“a Nigerian-Canadian raised in Fort McMurray, Alberta”), Toronto’s Cassie Cao (“a former economist turned stand-up comedian”), Vancouver’s Aaron Read (“who won JFL NorthWest’s ‘Breakout Artist of the Year’”), Calgary’s Brett Forte (“who is upset with his Millennial generation…and thinks audiences should be too”), Calgary’s Brittany Lyseng (“who swapped her elevator mechanic job for the comedy spotlight”), Vancouver standup and cartoonist Jacob Samuel and Toronto’s Kyle Brownrigg (“who was the first gay male to be awarded ‘Best Breakout Artist’ at the Canadian Comedy Awards”).