Casual Travellers

31 May 2012 | 2:27 pm | Baz McAlister

One half of fraternal musical comedy duo Smart Casual, beardless brother Ben Mattick talks to Baz McAlister about their upcoming Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow jaunt to regional Australia.

When they're off stage, they're brothers Ben and Nick Mattick, but on stage as Smart Casual, they go by the names Fletcher Jones and Roger David – same mother, different fathers, as one of their previous show titles helpfully cleared up. But on their upcoming trip around the country as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow, don't be surprised if you see Smart Casual doing a few laps of your main street in the Tarago before the show.  

“We might just have to do a quick drive around the town to see what the local clothing stores are called,” says Ben Mattick. It's possible they'll end up in towns where the idea of 'smart casual' attire is hi-vis vests and below-the-knee shorts – so maybe they'll need to go by names like 'King Gee' and 'Hard Yakka' while in the backblocks of various towns and regional centres. 

The brothers started out doing five-minute open mic spots at the Comedy Store in Sydney, then progressed through most of the traditional Aussie comedians' rites of passage, such as Raw Comedy, and have been doing comedy together now “properly” for about five years, Mattick says – and in all that time, they've managed to fly under the radar of both Mr Jones and Mr David. Neither has asked them to 'cease and desist' using their stage names.

“The fact that Fletcher Jones has now gone bankrupt probably means they're happy for anyone to use their name as a little bit of free advertising,” Mattick says. “But no, Roger David has never come knocking at our door. And I've actually never shopped at Roger David, either. They've not gotten anything out of us!”

For the past four years the lads have clambered into the MICF Roadshow Tarago through various parts of the country, bringing comedy to small towns and regional hubs all over Australia. “It's one of those things where people seem to really appreciate you, as opposed to when you do a city gig,” Mattick says. “Although, we did the Roadshow once in Parramatta, which is close to where we live, and that was one of the worst ones. The further we get away from Sydney, the more people appreciate us.”

Mattick says the brothers' show this year at Adelaide Fringe and the Melbourne Comedy Festival, Broken Dreams, went well, stuffed with a brand new batch of sibling banter and new songs. It's a product of their honest creative process.

“We find it easy to collaborate because it's a lot easier to tell a sibling something's crap rather than a friend,” Mattick says. “If one of us has a bad idea the other one will happily say it's shit, without beating around the bush. Neither one of us will get offended. And as for us being cooped up in the car together – well, at Adelaide this year we spent five weeks in a room with two single beds, so I think we're pretty used to it now. There's coping mechanisms.”

The boys are perhaps best known for their signature song The Hawk, about the imaginary lovechild of Stephen Hawking and Jennifer Hawkins, but Mattick says in the past year or so they've shied away from performing it for fear of burning it out with themselves, let alone the audience. “We're thinking of doing it for the Roadshow, it might be a good one for people to recognise us by. But we did it solidly for about three years, so it gets a bit tedious. It's more for us that we don't do it, rather than the actual patrons – because we just look dead inside while we're doing it!”

Smart Casual play Newcastle Civic Theatre Friday 8 June to Sunday 10 as part of the MICF Roadshow