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Matt Okine

Australian comedian, author and actor.

He’s one of Australia’s most beloved performers; a comedian, author and actor, and he’s coming to the Gold Coast for GC Laughs Festival on Sunday March 21st.

We sat down for a chat with Matt about what he’s excited most to do while he’s on the Coast and how one juggles doing all of the epic things he does, while also being a new Dad.

What do you love most about visiting the Gold Coast?
The beach, the sun, the surf, but also the food. I love sitting in Rick Shores on a sunny day, eating a bug roll and looking up along the beach towards the high-rises of Surfers. Followed by a session at one of the local taprooms. There is seriously no better spot in Australia to spend an afternoon eating and drinking.

What can we expect from your GC Laughs Festival show ’Solo Diner’?
Most people only know me from the radio, or TV, so they’re always surprised when they see me do a full-length stand-up show. This is where it all started for me. I guess this year’s show is about the journey from being the solo diner on tour to being the person requesting a high chair and boiling water to heat breast milk in the restaurant. It’s about lying on first dates. Its about crime podcasts and bird seed thieves. It’s about birthing classes and finding a good parking spot when your partner is 10cm dilated. It’s about all those things and more. It’s hard to explain a stand-up show! It’s about everything and nothing at the same time.

You recently wrote and starred in hit TV series, The Other Guy, can you talk to us about the premise of that and how it all came to fruition?
The Other Guy started as a stand-up show that actually won the Director’s Choice Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The stand-up show was based on the breakdown of a relationship that had happened in my life, and we made the TV show into a fictionalised version of what happens in the aftermath of a breakdown. You see my nude butt in it quite a lot though, so if brown peaches ain’t your thing, then stay away.

Is writing a TV show something you’ve always wanted to do?
Absolutely. When I was growing up I was obsessed with Seinfeld. He’s part of the reason I even wanted to become a stand-up. TV is hard work though. On the radio, you can look like crap for your whole shift and nobody knows. But on TV, that pimple or that bald patch is forever.

You also hosted a cooking show… is cooking a passion of yours and what are your favourite dishes to cook?
I think cooking and joke-telling are pretty closely related. It really comes down to creating things that you hope other people will enjoy. Whenever I’m not performing or writing, I’m eating or thinking about food. As we speak, I’m in Adelaide at the food markets, trying to digest a huge pork roll that I just bought. I think I’ve eaten half a kilo of crackling.

Oh you also wrote a novel, talk to us about that…
My novel, Being Black n Chicken & Chips, is about a twelve-year-old boy, trying to start high school while his Mum dies of cancer. It’s based on my very first award-winning stand-up show of the same name, and I wrote the book whilst my partner was pregnant. One of the most incredible things I’ve ever been able to do is dedicate it to my daughter, Sofia. That’s the very first page of the book, but it was the last thing I wrote. All the struggling I went through to create and actually type a story became worthwhile when I realised that it’s ultimately a way for my daughter to connect with the grandmother she’ll never get to meet. I’m really proud of it.

How does one juggle all of the things you do?
Just do it. I know I stole that motto off Nike, but seriously, you just have to do it. There would be times where I would be writing late into the night and waking up at 4am to be on set by sunrise. You just have to block all the negative voices out in your head, and focus on what’s the most important thing in the moment. Stop worrying about the mountain, just worry about where to put your foot next.

If you had to choose one of the above as your greatest passion, which would you choose?
Being a good Dad.

From where do you find inspiration for your work?
Trying to find inspiration is like trying to find a partner. The more desperate you become, the more likely you’ll be going home alone (without a joke/story/etc). I try to just live my life and hope that I bump into inspiration when I’m out shopping, or catching the bus, or drunk in a bar somewhere.

Anything you’re super excited to do on the Gold Coast while you’re here?
Drinking wine and eating bug rolls at Rick Shores. I better wait ‘til the day after my gig though…

Karl ‘The Lyrical’ Smith

He’s the local musician who has been on the scene for quite some time now, delighting people with his unique tunes and upbeat energy. These days though, Karl “The Lyrical” Smith is more than a musician, he’s also a Podcaster and Gamer and on Sunday March 15th he’ll be hosting Pop & Play – a supercharged festival of eSports and music in a celebration of Asian pop culture –  at HOTA (Home of the Arts).

We sat down for a chat with Karl about his career thus far and the transition from Karl Smith to The Lyrical.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve only been a Gold Coast local since 2018 but have fallen deeply in love with it very quickly. I have always had a beautiful relationship with the Coast through my music as well.

What do you love most about living here?
I mean, if having such easy access to some of the world’s greatest beaches isn’t enough of an answer, what about being part of the awesome musical and creative community that just keeps growing here?

Talk to us about your transition from Karl Smith to The Lyrical…
“The Lyrical” has been my “performance name” since before the busking days in Fortitude Valley, as far back as the early 2000’s. Back in our hip-hop crew days, a fellow rapper, Day Know, jokingly dubbed me “The Lyrical Shaman” once… and (most of) it stuck. I’ve been trying to live up to the expectations of the name ever since and I love the challenge.

You grew up in the Solomon Islands, how has your childhood impacted the music you make today?
So much of my original music (and even the covers I choose to play) is still influenced by early years in the islands. And not just the traditional music of the islands, but also, and arguably more so, the dated pop music and Disney songs we were exposed to well after the rest of the world was done with it haha!

What can we expect from your upcoming event at HOTA?
I will actually be hosting POP & PLAY! I’ll be running around and hopefully not making a fool of myself while getting absorbed by the colourful and entertaining events on display and guiding you all along for the ride!

You’re also a podcaster and a gamer, what aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
I have always deeply loved gaming. It has inspired much of my life and has helped me through more than any other medium, be it music to books to movies. Gaming had always been the place I go to, not just to escape, but to rebuild. Next time we meet in person, just look at my arm tattoo and you might understand the journey a touch more…

From where do you find inspiration?
See above! Haha! But, as cliché as it is, everywhere. I’ll be reading a random book and come across a beautiful quote and run to my desk to turn the concept into a song. You just never know. I try to stay open to being inspired by anything.

What else is in the works for 2020?
I have several tours around Australia with my music as “The Lyrical” and looking to record more music. In the gaming world, I will be heading over to Comicon in San Diego in July for a sneaky personal peek to finally see and report back what that is all about. Callan (my Game Train Podcast co-host) and I also have a LOT more planned for our Twitch streaming and podcasting adventures in 2020 so watch this space!

What advice do you have for someone looking to create a career in the performance arts?
I am definitely not old or wise enough to give advice to anyone except to say that if I could, I would 100% do it all again. The seven years of busking, the slow burn with venues and the friendships and connections through both music and video game worlds. They have moulded me into a performer and person I am proud of. So I guess, do that?

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Coffee spot:
Jac + Eileen’s (Palm Beach) There is legit: No. Better. Coffee.
Cafe for breakfast: So many great spots around but I always just end up back at Jac & Eileen’s… they have books and everything!!
Restaurant for dinner: Burgster (Palm Beach)
How does your weekend usually look? I’m usually anywhere between Airlie Beach and Yamba doing a live show. And if not, I’m streaming on Twitch at home playing video games with a network of other legends and having a blast!

A belly full of laughs is heading to HOTA this March

GC Laughs Festival - Tommy Little (image supplied)
GC Laughs Festival - Tommy Little (image supplied)

2020 may be well and truly behind us, but that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to a dose of fun and laughter right about now. So, whilst we still can’t escape overseas, and you’ve nearly exhausted all suitable binge-worthy series – why not experience a night of live comedy with some of the country’s best comedians?

The annual GC Laughs Festival is on its way back to Home of the Arts (HOTA) at Bundall this month between Saturday 13th and Sunday 21st of March and promises a hilarious line-up of homegrown heroes and comedic talent, set to have audiences falling out of their seats – even though they’ve paid for them.

GC Laughs Festival Director Josh Armstrong said Gold Coasters are well overdue for a laugh this March as the comedy festival returns for a third year, set to be bigger, better and funnier than ever before. “We’re hosting five huge nights of real, raw and straight up riotous comedy, with talent from far and wide landing on the Gold Coast,” he said.

“The line-up we’re showcasing is truly sensational and following over 8,000 comedy fans joining us at HOTA in 2019, we can’t wait to see the local community embrace comedy once again.” 

GC Laughs Festival welcomes to the Gold Coast Australian comedy legends Joel Creasey, Tommy Little, Fiona O’Loughlin, and Gen Fricker who will take to the stage alongside some of the best local and international acts.

GC Laughs Festival - Joel Creasey (image supplied)
GC Laughs Festival - Joel Creasey (image supplied)

With global sold-out performances, a headline act at Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Edinburgh Fringe, and many TV appearances such as Ten’s ‘I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here’ and Nine’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’, Fiona O’Loughlin returns for another year with her new act set to be a showstopper.

On the same evening as Joel Creasey, you can catch Neel Kolhatkar, Craig Quartermaine, Sam Taunton, Women Like Us, Dan Rath, Hot Department, and Tommy Little.

And trust us when it comes to comedy with no limits, Tommy Little takes no prisoners; ready to give the Gold Coast a glimpse into his real-life antics, foolish and funny as hell, for a hot night of comedy.

The GC Laughs Gala kicks off the festival on Saturday 13th March for the biggest night of comedy on the Gold Coast, hosted by Australian cultural and big-time comedy icon, Heath Franklin Chopper.

Rounding out the festival on Sunday 21st March is South Africa’s hilarious Dusty Rich who will be bringing his twice sold-out insanity manifestation ‘The Dusty Rich Comedy Circus’ – a weird and wild show, set to take the audience on an insane ride to close the GC Laughs Festival 2021.

Tickets are on sale now so don’t miss out – because that wouldn’t be very funny!

Where: HOTA (Home of the Arts), Bundall

Words by Alex Mitcheson

GC Laughs Festival - Gen Fricker (image supplied)
GC Laughs Festival - Gen Fricker (image supplied)

Caitlin Verrall

She’s the local lass about to take the fashion world by storm and we are pretty thrilled about it.

We sat down for a chat with Caitlin Verrall about her label The Weft and the release of her stunning second collection, Outliers.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
It would be close to 12 years now. I moved to the Gold Coast to study design in my early 20s and now it’s home. I worked in London for a couple of years in between but you can’t beat our lifestyle.

What do you love most about living here?
I love the laid-back and friendly nature of Gold Coasters, and the enterprising nature behind many of us who choose to live here for the lifestyle balance. I also love the access we have to endless beaches and camping spots as you head south, and that Brisbane is only up the road.

Tell us about your fashion label The Weft?
The Weft was born out of a need for beautiful, unassuming clothing. I love subtle, enduring and well-crafted pieces, so everything is designed with this in mind. I work mainly with a monotone palette and use all natural fabrics. The designs are clean and minimal, so pieces can be worn on their own or as a compliment. We just released our second collection, Outliers, which offers everything from the classic Smith ‘90s Dress to the statement Ithica Wrap Dress. It’s a beautiful range of timeless, laid-back silhouettes, with matching separates emerging for the first time.

How did it come about?
I spent more than 10 years working for global brands which produced large ranges of clothing several times throughout the year. While it was great exposure, my heart was in creating pieces that transcend seasonal cycles and become personal favourites.

I had designs bouncing around in my head and sketchpad and was excited (and also a little nervous) to finally release my first range, Essential Eccentric. A small collection of carefully curated designs, it really set the tone for The Weft with a great response from across Australia and even some orders from overseas.

What does the brand name mean?
In weaving, the weft is passed over and under the warp to turn thread or yarn into woven fabric. I once heard San Francisco described as a place with an ‘eccentric weft’ – a destination for dreamers and misfits and for those who like to sit at the edge of the continent and look even further west. This phrasing really resonated with me with something special woven into each piece from The Weft.

From where do you draw inspiration?
All around me. It changes daily. I’m a visual person – beautiful photographs inspire me. Ceramics are really inspiring me at the moment (and you can probably tell if you follow The Weft on Instagram). Generally, people doing something unique or new is always inspiring. It pushes you to do the same, to do better.

What’s your favourite piece in the current collection?
The Smith Cigarette Pant would have to be my favourite from Outliers. I’m very much a comfort dresser, so these pants are perfect. They’re tailored and cut from a soft, fluid linen blend. They can be worn with some slides and a tank and also dressed up with a pair of heels. Versatility in a garment is key for me. The Smith Pant and Shirt have been popular in this collection.

Any advice for someone wanting to start their own fashion label?
It feels strange offering advice, but I can say the market is busy and you have to establish trust. I think it is important to have authenticity and a clear purpose. And quality pieces that are thoughtfully designed.

What’s in the works for 2020 for you?
Outliers is our focus at the moment, but we are also planning a new collection for release later this year.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Cafe for breakfast:
Paddock Bakery is still my favourite breakfast jaunt.
Coffee spot: BSKT is within walking distance from home, but I’ll happily grab a coffee from anywhere – especially if I tag along for a morning surf check with my partner.
Restaurant for dinner: I love restaurants with share plates or tapas – Light Years is a new favourite.
How does your weekend usually look? It’s a little different these days with a 5-month-old. We’re up early to make a coffee and head over the road for an ocean swim and some sun. We often drive south to Kingscliff for lunch or a picnic at Talle Creek with friends. We love a weekend away too – we just got back from camping near Brooms Head.

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