Merrill native Matt Torkelson bringing LA comedy to his hometown
Merrill native and Los Angeles comedian Matthew Torkelson is coming back to town with four other hilarious LA comedians to make you laugh this Friday night at Les & Jim’s Lincoln Lanes.
Torkelson will be joined by Harper-Rose Drummond (Big Fire Festival), Aaron Bright (A Night Out Festival, Comedy Social), Eddie Perino (Fresh Off The Boat, Tim Timmerman Hope of America) and Sierra Katow (Last Comic Standing, Carson Daly). Doors open at 7 p.m. and the laughs start at 8 p.m.
A 2006 Merrill High School graduate, Torkelson went on to college and worked locally for several years, all the while saving up for a move to Los Angeles. Known locally as a musician, Matt told friends and family he was headed to LA to pursue a career in music; somehow that sounded more legit than the truth – he wanted to be a comedian. He made the move to the West Coast in 2014.
Matt started by watching other standup comics practice their craft at open mic nights in comedy clubs, bars, restaurants – even a laundromat. It wasn’t until October 2015 that he first got on stage to perform at an open mic night.
While driving Uber 40 hours a week, Matt continues to hit several open mics a week with a few paying gigs sprinkled in. He takes his show on the road to northern California, San Diego and other West Coast cities.
“Making money in just standup alone, that’s tough,” Matt says.
Through trial and error, Matt has developed his own style of standup comedy.
“I’m definitely a storyteller,” he says. “There’s no set theme, just whatever’s funny. The difficult part is to meld it together for a longer set.”
He makes it back to Wisconsin on occasion. Matt opened for Charlie Behrens (of Manitowoc Minute fame) at the Grand Theater in Wausau and has hosted at the Skyline Comedy Cafe in Appleton and the former Cuckoo’s Nest in Wausau.
When he pitched the idea of doing a show in Merrill to his comedian friends in LA, all four were immediately onboard. He promises a great show from the talented group of comedians.
“These are people I’ve seen go up so many times and they’re just consistently funny in such impressive ways,” Matt says. “It should be a lot of fun.”
Matt is also nervously looking forward to performing in front of a hometown crowd.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” he says. “I can say I’ve never been more nervous for a show because, ideally for comedy shows, you don’t really know that many people. I’m sure I will look out in the crowd and recognize well over half the people.”
It was also easy for Matt to convince Les & Jim’s co-owner Mark Bares to take a chance on the comics from LA.
“It’s going to go well,” Matt says, “and I would love to make it a yearly thing.”
Friday night’s show will be set up showcase style, with each comic getting 20-25 minutes to present their best stuff.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for almost six months,” Matt said. “We’re here to have fun and make people laugh.”
Matt has been hanging out in Merrill this week, spending some time with his dad. After the show at Les & Jim’s, he’ll do some shows with Katow in Minneapolis before heading back to California.
Matt’s ultimate career goal is to reach a point where he can give up his day job.
“To pay my bills with comedy, that would be a win,” he said.
Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 the day of the show. Get more info and tickets at www.MerrillEvents.org.