Matt Okine rules out panel shows

In 2015 comedian Matt Okine co-hosted How Not to Behave alongside Gretel Killeen, and has appeared on 7 Days, Best Bits, Dirty Laundry Live and is currently fronting Short Cuts to Glory for ABC -but he’s ruling himself out of hosting panel shows for the time being.

The reason is his new Stan comedy, The Other Guy, which he wrote and stars in, is a perfect fit.

“I think it comes down to the style of TV that I’ve been a part of,” he says.

“I don’t think I’m at a stage of my life right now where hosting a panel show is going to work, or is something that I really want to do. The difference between a show like this, and some of the other things that I have struggled with, is that this has been the dream since Day 1.

“This is the sort of thing I have wanted to do ever since I can remember.

“It probably took over my life too much”

“To be honest it probably took over my life too much, for a while there. For the past year I’d be out having dinner with my girlfriend, staring off into the distance and she’d be asking, ‘Hello, are you even here?’

“In my head I was thinking about what possible plot point can happen towards the end of episode 3!”

In the six part comedy, he plays successful radio host, AJ Amon, who finds himself unexpectedly back in the dating pool for the first time in a decade, after discovering his long-term girlfriend has been having an affair with his best friend.

The series, which co-stars Harriet Dyer, Valene Kane & Christiaan van Vuuren is described as a funny, raw and poignant look at break-ups in the modern age and at the harsh reality of recovering from heartbreak.

Produced by Aquarius Films (Lion, Berlin Syndrome), it is based on Okine’s stand-up show of the same name.

“Aquarius asked me if I would think about turning it into a TV show. I’ve always wanted to do that and I’ve tried a couple of Pilots before. I made one about a group of actors in a call centre called Not Available and a time-travelling duo called The Future Machine,” he continues.

“So to finally get that opportunity, I just jumped straight at it.

“Stan came on board and were super-supportive of the wild ideas we had going. We ended up filming 6 episodes in a month, which was really pushing the limits.”

While the series premise is based on the breakdown of his long-term relationship, Okine was keen to avoid obvious conflicts of cheating partners and betrayals. The Other Guy navigates a more-subtle path forward.

“I was adamant about not shoving this idea of the affair down peoples’ throats. I wanted it to be a little bit ambiguous as to what’s going on. That really stems from wanting to remain true to situations like that,” he insists.

“The thing I am quite proud of is that it isn’t a gag-fest.”

“One of the notes that kept coming back was ‘You need to address what’s happened to AJ.’ There was constantly this idea that we needed to see him walking in on his girlfriend and his friend having sex. But I just hate the idea of shoving that exposition down peoples’ throats.

“In reality it’s often not a situation like that, but it comes down to communication where a secret is finally revealed to a partner over a series of months.

“So I really wanted to put a different spin on it. I wanted it to be more withheld and subtle. The thing I am quite proud of is that it isn’t a gag-fest.”

He also attributes much of the show’s subtleties to director Kacie Anning.

“I had worked with her on Wham Bam Thank-You Ma’am but I had never seen the finished product. But being with her on set and seeing the way she made calculated decisions and was never stressed out, and the way she spoke to actors, I found really reassuring.

“I knew because I was going to be in every scene with her it was one of the most important relationships to have on set.”

The Other Guy is the second local comedy series from Stan, with No Activity already having a US adaptation in the works. Okine is optimistic, SVOD is the right platform for his new project.

“It always felt right with Stan because their want for doing cutting edge things,” he adds.

“Also the idea that it all comes out at once I couldn’t be happier with. It is a TV show but if you watch it at once it’s like a slightly-longer movie.”

The Other Guy premieres on Stan Thursday August 17.

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