Eli Matthewson on Fey, Poehler, and the new tour of Snort With Friends
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Eli Matthewson on Fey, Poehler, and the new tour of Snort With Friends

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One of the greatest aspects of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the variety of shows on display. There’s everything from stand-up to variety acts and even impressively talented improvised shows like those provided by festival favourite, Snort, the popular New Zealand-based improv troupe who’re bringing their show to this year’s festival for the fourth consecutive year.

Chatting with one of the group’s founding members, Eli Matthewson, Snort couldn’t be happier to be heading back to Melbourne.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the amazing shows and just excited to be back in Melbourne. It’s everything that’s great about Wellington but just bigger, better and cooler.”

Matthewson is no stranger to Melbourne, having travelled over to perform with Snort for the past few years. “We always find we need to prove ourselves in Melbourne, but that’s exciting and part of the challenge.”

Snort have built a reputation as Auckland’s most beloved improv troupe, developing a strong cult following from their loyal audiences at their weekly sold-out shows.

“A few of us used to do an improv show in Christchurch that was kind of like a more theatre sports-style of improv,” says Matthewson. However, he and the group were looking for something a little different. “I really didn’t want to do theatre sports, or party-quirk kind of games.” It prompted them to start a new troupe based on the improv style made famous by the Upright Citizen’s Brigade (most notably that of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler). “We saw the way they were doing improv, which was way more loose, and so we just watched a bunch of shows like that and then just started working on it.”

Snort are bringing 13 members of their troupe along to this year’s festival, offering a rotating roster of performers over their three weeks of shows.

“There’s a few of us coming and going week in, week out,” he says. “Then you have people like Rose Matafeo and Guy Montgomery who are here all season because they have their individual shows.”

Ultimately, it’s a marathon effort considering nothing is planned and everything is made up on the spot.

“It’s always a real workout for us. The first week you’re really excited and then by week two you’re like, ‘I’ve done every idea that I could possible do.’ Then you rise like a phoenix from the ashes. That’s when I think the best ideas come out.”

Improv is as an exciting form of live comedy, forcing the performers to think on their feet and live in the moment. 

“You have to rely on those core instincts. That’s when the real magical stuff comes out.”