When people think of what Ann Arbor is known for, things like academics, sports and culture usually come to mind. Most of the time, Ann Arbor’s comedy scene is left behind in comparison, forced to fight for some recognition. However, with historic venues like the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, bringing in comedians like Matthew Broussard, the scene seems to actually be thriving, and not just surviving, despite the lack of attention.
Founded almost 34 years ago, the venue opened when comedy clubs weren’t really that common.
“It was really the beginning of this industry, there weren’t that many comedy clubs across the country before 1980,” said cofounder Roger Feeny in an interview with The Daily.
Since then, the club has really built a name for itself, which is why it’s able to bring in such big name comics, including Matthew Broussard. Broussard’s witty style of comedy is a perfect fit for the crowds of Ann Arbor.
“They’re a smart crowd,” Feeny explained. “They’re very intelligent and very up on their popular culture, which brings us to Matthew.”
Not only are Broussard’s jokes clever, but he also has the brains — and a degree — to accompany them. Before pursuing his career in standup, Broussard completed a degree in mathematics at Rice University. After college, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue the strategic art of making people laugh.
Even though he’s strayed a bit from his mathematical background, these skills have actually been able to help Broussard with his routines, weaving their way into his jokes from time to time.
“Joke writing itself is about finding patterns and breaking them,” Broussard said in a phone interview with The Daily. “And having a background in math really helps with that kind of analytical thinking.”
And while his main goal is to get a laugh from the audience, he also likes making them think. “I enjoy a joke where you laugh, but after the show, you realize you now know a little tid-bit you didn’t. You can maybe one-up people in a conversation at a party when people ask where … Propecia comes from,” Broussard explained.
But his jokes aren’t purely academic. Broussard also draws upon observational humor and references to pop culture.
“I just want to address this up top: I look like a douchebag,” he said on a recent stand-up he gave on Conan last year. “It’s not a joke, I just want to let you know that I know… I’ve seen mirrors, I know that even before I started talking, most of you didn’t like me. And that’s okay, because ’80s movies have taught you to not trust someone with my hair and bone structure.”
While his jokes have found success in the mainstream, Feeny believes that they resonate particularly well with Ann Arbor audiences.
“Talking about smart audiences, Matthew touches on subjects that you never hear comics touch on, like physics and grammar,” Feeny stated. “You wouldn’t expect these bits to be funny. But the first time he came in, he impressed us greatly.”
Feeny attributes his success here to the fact that the club draws in such a smart audience.
Even though it’s a bit colder than Los Angeles, Broussard still looks forward to coming back to Ann Arbor for a second time. When asked about Ann Arbor and the Comedy Showcase, Broussard stated: “It’s one of my favorite clubs. The crowds are just so smart, and they’ll go anywhere with you. They’re far smarter than I am, and far more educated than I am. It’s really a treat. My favorite things is a smart audience, and Ann Arbor has that.”