Matt Roper (centre) in London, 2015
|Born||20 May 1977 (age 41)|
Alter egos, Stand up, Satire
|Notable works and roles||Wilfredo I'll Say She Is: The Lost Marx Brothers Musical|
Matt Roper is a British comedian, writer and musician.
Roper made his comedy debut in London during the late-1990s and is noted for his early work in sketch comedy at the Jermyn Street Theatre and in the satirical sketch show Newsrevue at the Canal Café Theatre.
He first gained prominence with his creation of Wilfredo, a grotesque satire of a Mediterranean romantic singer. The character is notoriously ill-mannered; frequently salivating onstage, drinking and smoking his way throughout songs, while berating his musicians and audience members with insults and expletives. The character has divided critics, leading them to proclaim him as "strangely endearing", "utterly charming and uplifting", "unlikeable", "inappropriate" and "a genius creation".
With Wilfredo and his band, Roper has toured the British summer festival circuit, counting the Glastonbury Festival among his successes on several occasions. In July 2010 Wilfredo was the surprise hit of the Port Eliot Festival, appearing onstage with Jarvis Cocker. Roper has presented the character at the Café de Paris, the Tobacco Factory in Bristol, Brighton Komedia and at London's Leicester Square Theatre. He has toured the character to festivals worldwide, giving performances in Australia, Argentina, the Philippines, the United States, South Africa, and across Europe.
In June 2011, Wilfredo appeared in the first series of Rufus Hound's What's So Funny? for BBC Radio 7 (now BBC Radio 4 Extra), recorded the Christmas Day edition of The Comedy Club Interviews for the same channel later that year in addition to making an appearance on Arthur Smith's Pissed Up Chat Show at the E4 Udderbelly at the Southbank Centre.
With comedian Pippa Evans under the guise of Loretta Maine, Roper co-wrote and recorded the song 'Happy Goddamn Christmas', released on 1 December 2012, peaking at No. 6 on the iTunes UK Comedy Charts. An accompanying video was released via BBC Three featuring cameos by Arthur Smith, Imran Yusuf, Ruth Bratt and Thom Tuck. Also with Evans, he co-wrote and recorded the single 'Peace All Over The World (At Christmas Time)', released 8 December 2014 and reportedly banned by BBC Radio 2 who were "worried that sensitive listeners would be offended".
Roper played both God and the Devil, in Terry Newman's political satire Lucifer: My Part in the New Labour Project (And How I Invented Coalition Government) in London and for the Brighton Festival in May 2011.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Roper has presented three feature length solo shows, Wilfredo: Erecto! (2011), The Wonderful World of Wilfredo (2012) and Wilfredo: Deconstructed (2014). Drawing positive comment and reviews in the press, Wilfredo was described by the Guardian newspaper as "weird, intimate and wonderful" and by Time Out as "an extraordinary creation who cuts a hacking, spluttering, beer dribbling figure upon the stage". The comedy industry website Chortle observed the character as "cantankerous, often lecherous and almost certainly consumptive, coughing and burping his way through the set, at one point hacking up phlegm like a horse chewing a toffee."
At the 2012 Edinburgh Festival, Roper appeared opposite Phil Nichol in a one-off performance at the Traverse Theatre for Theatre Uncut's season of radical playlets, playing an advertising executive representing a global corporation in Indulge by the Icelandic playwright Andri Snaer Magnuson.
In 2015, Roper accepted the Malcolm Hardee Award for Cunning Stunt of the Year, awarded to a group or individual annually for performing elaborate publicity stunts to promote their festival appearance. He had gained access to a social media account belonging to Kate Copstick, head comedy critic of the influential Scotsman newspaper, writing a glowing review of his own talents under her name.
New York Theatre
On 14 April 2016 it was announced that Roper was to play Chico Marx, eldest of the Marx Brothers, in I'll Say She Is: The Lost Marx Brothers Musical, opening on 28 May 2016 Off-Broadway at the Connelly Theater in New York City. The show closed on July 2, 2016 to critical acclaim in the New York press, winning Critic's Pick in the New York Times. The journalist Adam Gopnik, profiling the show in The New Yorker, writes "Matt Roper, enlisted to play Chico, had to learn how to reproduce a fiendishly singular accent—not an Italian accent but a New York Italian-émigré accent as rendered in caricature by an émigré New York Jew—as well as how to play “trick” piano, in the distinctive Chico style, with the left hand lolling and the right hand shooting the keys and kittening... he captures the strange, unearned belligerence of Chico."
On December 6, 2017 Roper opened Off-Broadway in the comic/clown role of the first large-scale pantomime to be presented in New York for over a century, at the Playhouse Theater of the Henry Street Settlement. Adapted from the fairy tale of the same title by the British actor-musician Mat Fraser and directed by the performance artist Julie Atlas Muz, Jack and the Beanstalk also starred Dirty Martini and a cast of downtown performers. Awarded the NYT Critic's Pick, the production closed on Dec 23, 2017.
In November 2014, Roper was among 44 comedians to sign an open letter to Dapper Laughs published nationally in the UK's Independent newspaper, protesting "encouraging rape culture and normalising sexism" in an ITV2 series, which was subsequently cancelled. He is a member of the Save Soho movement, a collective of artists who oppose the ongoing closure and demolition of music venues and independent businesses within the London neighbourhood, adding his signature to a letter to Boris Johnson in 2014. Roper is a long-time supporter of the British Labour Party and many of its causes. He is a supporter of the British-based NGO Burma Campaign UK.
He is a son of the late British comedian George Roper.
The American writer Trav S.D., author of No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, describes the generational differences between father and son:
Matt Roper is a chameleon-like comic actor. He is a completely different character every time I ever see him perform. I first met him because he played Chico Marx in a revival of I’ll Say She Is (and amusingly, it was a while before I ever heard his real voice)... In Androboros he played a callous British aristocrat. In Jack and the Beanstalk he was a wide-eyed, accessible little boy. By contrast, George Roper’s only persona was himself. He didn’t act or play roles, apart from brief moments in his jokes when he would do a character. The common denominator of course is show business. People in show business are more like other people in show business than they are like people outside of it, no matter what their act. One can be a lion tamer and the other a tuba player — it’s still a life of constant travel, living from gig to gig, craving attention, and pleasing roomfuls of strangers. I say it is a noble calling. May there be generations of funny Ropers for all eternity.
- Happy Goddamn Christmas - Loretta Maine feat. Matt Roper (single, 2012)
- The Wonderful World of Wilfredo - Wilfredo (album, 2014)
- Peace All Over the World (At Christmas Time) - Wilfredo feat. the Great Carmella (single, 2014)
- Wilfredo Unchained: Live in California - Wilfredo (album, 2015)
-  Comedycv.co.uk Entry for Matt Roper – Retrieved 15 February 2011
- Camden New Journal – retrieved 21-07-10
- Wilfredo: Erecto! Review – Edinburgh Festival Fringe Chortle.com, retrieved 30-08-12
- ED2011 Wilfredo: Erecto! Review – Three Weeks, Three Weeks, retrieved 08-01-12
- The List – Bizarre and creepy cruise ship act The List – Wilfredo: Erecto!, ret. 30-08-12
- Broadwaybaby.com BroadwayBaby.com: Review: The Wonderful World Of Wilfredo – Retrieved 30 August 2012
- Glastonbury Festival 2010
- Off The Wagon – Balkan beats and gypsy music
- NME.com Glastonbury Line-up 2010
- Matt Roper and Jackie Juno a double bill at the Totnes Festival, PRSD, retrieved 15-09-10
-  Inside Buenos Aires 10–17 March 2014
-  Feeling Funny In Buenos Aires? You’re not alone. | What's Up Gringo? Magazine
-  'Cape Town Funny Festival: Line-up' Expressoshow.com 11 June 2013
-  Showtime Tenerife: Wilfredo, Kai Humphries, Daniel Simonsen, Jessica Fostekew - Sept 20 2014
- Corriere del Mezzogiorno Wilfredo, il Rock visto da Granada
- ConnectMagazine.it Wilfredo, Un Uomo e La Sua Musica. A Nardò il fenomeno lounge dell'Inghilterra
-  Alex Frackleton, Wilfredo (UK) Open Air Metamorphisis. Hradec Králové, Czech Rep. Fri 27 June 2014
-  'KarliBebenRückschau' Karli Beben - Feinkost Blog Sept 2014
-  'Unique Character Act To Perform in Budapest' Daily Hungary 21 June 2014
-  'Character Performer in Bratislava on Thursday' Slovakia Daily 21 June 2014
- BBC – BBC Radio 4 Extra Programmes What's So Funny? Episode 12, Series 1. Broadcast Fri 24 June 2011 – Retrieved 27 June 2011
- BBC – BBC Radio 4 Extra Programmes The Comedy Club Interviews. Broadcast Sunday 25 December 2011 – Retrieved 1 January 2012
-  Musicchart.info 'Happy Goddamn Christmas'
-  BBC Three Comedy: Happy Goddamn Christmas
- London Evening Standard | Wilfredo and Carmella’s BBC blackout Published: 15 December 2014
- Brighton Fringe Interview: Matt Roper, The New Current, retrieved 26-05-11
- The John Fleming Blog 15 September 2014
- The Guardian Guardian.co.uk – Edinburgh Festival 2011, Isy Suttie: My Edinburgh 02-09-11
- Soundcloud Ben Walters reviews Wilfredo: Erecto for Time Out, retrieved 02-09-11
- Chortle Chortle.co.uk Edinburgh Fringe 2011 – Wilfredo: Erecto! review, retrieved 02-09-11
- British Theatre Guide British Theatre Guide – Retrieved 20 February 2013
- Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "Malcolm Hardee winners announced : News 2015 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "Tags: 2015". Beyond The Joke. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- Lost 1924 Marx Brothers Musical I'LL SAY SHE IS to Make Off-Broadway Debut BroadwayWorld.com Published: April 24, 2016
- "How a Lost Marx Brothers Musical Found Its Way Back Onstage". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- "Review: 'Jack and the Beanstalk' Is a Holiday Treat Worth Savoring". Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- "UK comedy performer Matt Roper aka 'Wilfredo' in criminal court in New York". John Fleming's blog - SO IT GOES. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- The Independent | Dapper Laughs: Jenny Eclair and Isy Suttie among 44 comedians to sign open letter against 'entirely sexist' ITV star Published: November 2014
- Pocklington, Rebecca. "Dapper Laughs: 44 comedians sign open letter against controversial comic after sick rape joke sparks outrage". mirror. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- Save Soho | Letter To Boris Johnson Published: Dec 2014
- Burma Campaign UK Celebrate Aung San Suu Kyi's 65th birthday – Retrieved 6 August 2010
- Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "Comic arrested for dozing on the subway : News 2015 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-02-08.