Review: ★★★½ Matt Okine - The Hat Game (MICF)

9 April 2018 | 4:53 pm | Sam Wall

"Okine could probably talk about paint drying and still have the room in stitches."

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Between stand-up, Short Cuts To Glory, The Other Guy and hosting triple j's breakfast, Mattew Okine has pretty well made himself a household name in the last few years and any fans looking for a fix are bound to get their itch scratched by The Hat Game.

With his signature endearing cheek and charm, Okine is able to find paydirt even in some pretty well-mined material. After giving a snap-happy punter who forgot to turn his flash off a good-natured roasting he opens The Hat Game with a bit about not being able to buy tickets on public transport with a credit card. Myki’s been getting panned for about ten years at this point but Okine could probably talk about paint drying and still have the room in stitches, and this one gets onside pretty much from the get-go.

That’s in no way the extent of his shtick though, and from there the core of The Hat Game is a story about Okine’s early days on the bottom rung of the stand-up circuit when he developed a taste for the pokies. It’s a winding yarn that branches off into side stories covering everything from Okine discovering a loophole that might have made him an Olympian to dealing with the internet, a technology so sophisticated it can almost seem prescient, and the infuriatingly stupid people who use it. More political topics clearly sit close to Okine's heart and his chill quickly turns to furious disbelief on subjects like race, immigration and the SSM vote. Listening to the effect Pauline Hanson’s diatribe had on Okine growing up as a young Ghanaian-Australian you'd have to be Hanson not to feel your stomach turn.

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But Okine is always ready with a brazen punchline or another light-hearted diversion before things can get too heavy, and he circles each anecdote smoothly back to the centre in neat, narrative bows.

Matt Okine presents The Hat Game until 22 Apr at Melbourne Town Hall, part of the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.