Matthew Ellis aka Jellybean Martinez – 'I have a very dark brain'
- Brian Donaldson
- 24 May 2017
Character comedian on how to handle hecklers, pre-show rituals and comedy heroes
We spoke to Matthew Ellis, the man behind the mayhem of Latino character act Jellybean Martinez, to find out why he sidestepped one-man-and-a-mic stand-up, and why being a magician at Disneyland can still lead to alternative comedy greatness...
Can you tell us about the moment when you thought: 'stand-up is for me'?
I bought a Richard Pryor VHS from a bargain bin in Tesco's and I knew from then that I wanted to speak verbal diarrhoea to people.
Do you have any pre-show rituals you can tell us about?
Jeez, it was worse when I first started. I had to get dressed EXACTLY the same way or, in my head, it would be a bad gig. Now I just stop being a weirdo and before I go on, I put my hands up in the air and say 'I'll handle this!'
How do you handle hecklers?
I've never been a gifted joke writer so my best skill in comedy has been improv and my quick adlibbing. So if anyone even thinks of heckling me, I'll tear them a new one and make them feel like shit. I blame the bullies when I was younger for fuelling the anger.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to 'offensive comedy'?
I love offensive comedy; I have a very dark brain. I just don't like it when new comedians to the scene do 'sick' jokes just to spark a reaction, like making a Madeleine McCann joke ten years on.
What's the one thing (good or bad) you remember about your very first stand-up gig?
The good thing was realising how bad my material was and that I should maybe try a different avenue of comedy. That's why I tried character comedy even though I'm making Jellybean less of a character and more me these days.
What's the best piece of advice you've received from another comedian so far?
'MCL!' ('Make Cunts Laugh!')
Which comedian's memoir would you recommend to someone?
Steve Martin's Born Standing Up. It's lovely to hear Steve's stories of learning magic at Disneyland to creating his wonderful and unique style and then selling out stadiums and becoming one of the most influential alternative comedians of all time.
You're curating your own 'legends of comedy' lineup: who are the bill's top three acts?
Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin. Three different styles of comedy: improv, stand-up and crazy props. All masters of their trade.
Jellybean Martinez is at The Stand, Edinburgh, Thu 1, Sat 10 Jun (kids show), Sun 9 Jul; The Stand, Glasgow, Sun 2 Jul (kids show).