"It's funny how much you start reflecting on, you know, everything, when you're sitting in an MRI scanner for three minutes."
It's a wonder that Matt Okine, one half of triple j's morning show, Breakfast With Matt And Alex, is able to get up on national radio and be funny five days a week. His 2016 solo comedy tour is kind of a last minute job. "Every year you get that feeling that you're never going to write a funny joke again. It's every single year. And then the year starts and all of a sudden you get back into the swing of things, you get really excited, and you do all of these incredible festivals, then you finally finish and think 'That was so much fun,' and then you get an email from your management and they say, 'Hey, Brisbane Comedy Festival, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Adelaide Fringe festival submissions close in a week, they need to know what your next show's about,' and you sit there at the café and just think, 'Holy. Fuck. What the hell am I going to talk about for another hour?'"
"First and foremost I talk about chicken, probably way too much — my affinity for eating chicken, things going wrong with me eating chicken..."
Angst aside, the multi-award winner has been able to rustle something together. "It's going to be a really nice look at the last 12 months," he says. "First and foremost I talk about chicken, probably way too much — my affinity for eating chicken, things going wrong with me eating chicken; I think I need to be more vegan-minded, like, do more ethically sourced comedy, because the amount of chicken jokes compared to plant-based jokes is outrageous."
Okine's tour is basically self-titled, but was going to be called Do Not Broadcast This Message, following a string of strange text messages received while on air. One particular message stands out. "Me and Alex were talking to a caller one day, who'd hurt his back, and I said that I'd suffered a similar situation," Okine says. "I'd hurt my sciatic nerve as well. And then I got a text from this random person who said, 'Hey, that's actually a very serious situation. You need to consult a neurologist. Please give me a call, I'm a doctor in Sydney,' then in capitals it said, 'DO NOT BROADCAST THIS MESSAGE.'
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
"It was a pretty crazy situation that I'd just got thrust into," he continues. "So I called this person up while Sia was playing on the radio and they said, 'Look, I don't want to freak you out, and ethically I don't even know if I'm supposed to do this, but I just got worried when you mentioned it, because you described a symptom that is really prevalent in people who have multiple sclerosis. I would recommend you do something about it, get tested.' So, yeah, next thing you know I was getting all these tests and MRIs. It's funny how much you start reflecting on, you know, everything, when you're sitting in an MRI scanner for three minutes not able to move. And for some reason your nose always becomes so itchy. I may have gone the whole day not needing to itch my nose, and yet the moment — the moment! — you get told, 'Do not move for three minutes,' it's like, 'well, I need to bloody move I've got something on my face right now!'
"But on top of that," Okine says, snapping back to his show summary, "I do lots of dumb stuff, like ruining sexy moments with Ja Rule impersonations." Fortunately, the tests showed that Okine is fine. But it's a lesson to us all: if you don't go to Web MD, Web MD might just come to you.