Interview by Diana Di Mauro
This month JFL42, a Just for Laughs festival, arrives in Toronto. 42 hilarious, riveting and relevant comedians and 9 amazing headliners will be cracking people up over a 10-day period in Toronto. Every performer has their own charm, but of course one of the 42 comedians stood out to me above the rest.
Matteo Lane is a classically trained opera singer and artist who will be doing stand-up comedy, and perform his musical show, Streisand at the Bon Soir, with Matteo Lane at JFL42.
Matteo will recreate “the magic of 19-year-old Barbra Streisand’s famous jazz set at Bon Soir with his own updated flavor and stylings. Henry Koperski joins him on keys, and together they’ll flood you with musical magic from the early 1960’s.”
Sounds like my kind of show! Before his opening on September 20, I got in touch with Matteo and his team to find out a little bit more about the multi-talented comedian.
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The basics: In your own words, what makes you you, and what should we know about you.
Hmm. I’m Italian Irish and Mexican, I’m gay, I’m an opera singer, oil painter and comedian. I love Joan Rivers and Maria Callas and wished I was Storm from X-MEN when I was a kid.
What made you decide to begin a career in comedy?
I was illustrating fashion ads and TV commercials for a living. Which isn’t graphic design btw, it’s actual drawing. I was singing at gay strip clubs at night in Chicago and one day decided to try stand up. I saw Joan Rivers and decided that’s what I wanted to do. Sometimes I think it’s fate, cuz I can’t believe I actually did it. I’m shocked thinking about it now, just thinking I was funny? I dunno – life Is weird.
Who are the comics that have inspired you?
Joan Rivers, Ellen, Kathy Griffin. Local comics are Candy Lawrence, Liza Treyger and Ray Holleb.
Tell me about your music training…
I started studying opera at age 15 with voice teacher Nick Falco. I continued my studies all throughout college while I was studying art.
Why did you train as an opera singer?
Who are your favourite singers?
Maria Callas. Because she’s a genius and the greatest artist of all time. If you disagree you have no taste.
What should people expect from Streisand at the Bon Soir, with Matteo Lane.
They should expect a raw look at me, my life, comedy, story telling that all comes together with the old old old music of 19 year old Streisand. I’m recreating her show from 1961 before she was famous.
What was the inspiration behind the show?
I’ve told myself since I was 15 I’d do this, and it finally happened.
I think Barbra Streisand is a musical goddess, I love the way she approaches melody and her diva attitude. What do you think is her attraction?
Few things. One – she looked, sounded and acted different than any other singer who has come before her. Two – she is technically an incredibly skilled singer. From great breath control, to her seem less passaggio, to all the colouring of her voice – she also infuses acting/storytelling in her singing. THREE – she was different and made it. Something as a gay man that I can look to for strength and inspiration.
Does your moustache help or hinder your performance?
You lived in Italy, what was that like?
Amazing and if I wasn’t a comic I’d be living in Rome.
Did you perform an comedy while you were there?
I am in 2 months. I’m anxious to see how it goes!
You do some really impressive artwork, I especially like the your drawings. Tell me about the characters you create and your inspiration.
I’ve been drawing before I could form sentences. I think in terms of what I was meant to do on earth, it was drawing. It’s the easiest, most natural form of expression for me. My fondest memories as s kid were drawing. Also it allowed me to fulfill all my other dreams. I’m forever thankful to my mother for giving me my talent.
Are you planning on writing a comic book?
Other than Just for Laughs, where can people see your work or watch you live?
Famous last words?
Don’t use cream in your carbonara – monsters!
Enjoy this artist profile? You should read about playwright and actor Jeff Ho. His play trace is described as:
“A painfully personal story of family and genealogy, trace follows the footprints taken by Jeff’s great grandmother who fled the Japanese in WWII by escaping to Hong Kong, losing one of her two sons during the trek; his mother’s similar pilgrimage to Canada, also with two sons in tow; and by Jeff himself, when he too embarked on a journey, moving from Markham to Montreal to pursue an uncharacteristically Chinese life.”