STAND-UP TUESDAYS: Matt Braunger

Matt Braunger 2012

Stand-Up Tuesdays is a weekly comedy spotlight written by the wonderfully talented Angie Frissore. Covering both known and unknown comics, Stand-up Tuesdays is your new source for all things funny.

This week, Angie puts a spotlight on Matt Braunger. If you or your comedy troupe would like to be featured on Stand-Up Tuesdays, please email utgjames@gmail.com.

I’ve never been much of a Madtv fan, I’ll admit. I always found the show to be a cheesier, less-polished version of Saturday Night Live, so when the new special from Madtv alum Matt Braunger came across my desk, I felt no immediate need to pop it into my DVD player.

Man, was I wrong.

Braunger’s new one-hour Comedy Central special, Shovel Fighter, is truly a delightful romp through the often-silly mind of the Chicago native. Featuring a set that’s reminiscent of depression-era carnivals – complete with paintings of dancing pigs and creepy babies being tempted by sausages – Shovel Fighter offers up hilarious tales ranging from Jaeger-Hulks and Lonelyman dinners, to trying to act like a thug on a unicycle. Capped off by Braunger taking the stage in work boots, “to look like one of the guys who would be driving the tent-pegs into the ground with a wooden mallet to help set up the circus,” as Braunger recently described to Southern California Public Radio, Braunger manages to pull of an entire special in which no one gets uncomfortable or offended, but everyone runs the risk of wetting themselves with laughter.

While Braunger has been referred to as a lesser-known comic by many, the comedian is certainly no rookie to the stage. He was featured at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal 2007, The Las Vegas Comedy Festival 2007, South By Southwest, and won “Best Of The Fest” at the inaugural Rooftop Comedy Festival in Aspen. A co-founding member of the popular Bridgetown Comedy Festival, his debut stand-up comedy album ‘Soak up The Night’ was released digitally on July 14, 2009 on Comedy Central Records and was named to the iTunes REWIND Top 20 Albums of 2009. He joined the cast of Madtv in 2008, providing hilarious impressions including Andy Griffith, Jimmy Kimmel, William Shatner and Charlie Sheen.

Being a strikingly tall guy, and looking, as he puts it, “like an enormous toddler”, Braunger’s stage presence is refreshing in that he almost seems to come across like a guy who’s not necessarily a stage comic – while he’s very good at what he does, part of his charm is that he simply seems like a guy telling you a (very) funny story at a bar one night. He’s a storyteller, often taking the time to provide perfectly detailed context that only serves to strengthen the humor in his tales.

“I was on a clown pub crawl in Chicago, where 85 men and women, dressed as clowns – half of us took acid,” Braunger describes before closing his set. “We hired a sober guy to drive us around in a school bus from bar to bar, unannounced. Did not tell the bar that we were going to that 85 acid-headed clowns were coming to their establishments.”

Having my initial preconceptions of a special successfully thwarted is something of a lovely surprise for me, as it doesn’t happen quite often – but let’s not waste any more time putting off listening to or watching Matt Braunger’s Shovel Fighter, which is available via Comedy Central Records on CD and DVD on iTunes and Amazon.com now. Pick it up today, and enjoy some controversy-free hilarity.

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