Rhys Mathewson: ’23 is the age when the arrogance of youth wears thin’
Rhys Mathewson

Rhys Matthewson is having a crisis of stand-up identity, which seems to have been caused by putting together a salad.

Rhys Mathewson

I’m 23 years old. So far, the only highlights of ‘the big two-three’ have been the following:

1) I have started eating pumpkin, and…

2) I’ve stop worrying about whether I’m a good kisser or not.

Which means I have now become a person my 16 year old self would want to high-five and my eight year old self would be brutally ashamed of. I started doing stand-up when I was 15 years old (less jokes, more over-enthusiasm) meaning my youth has always been somewhat wrapped up in my stand-up. Now that I’m older, am I any wiser and what does that mean for my jokes?

I think that stand-up comedy, when it boils down to it, is one person (or a sketch group – that’s fine too) believing their thoughts are of such a high quality that everyone else should pay to hear them. It’s hard to feel comfortable with the idea of charging people to hear about a great roast pumpkin and couscous salad I made last week. I wouldn’t have had a problem with it four years ago. I would have dived head first into the story of “It says put lemon in, but I might not put lemon in.” Close call – the lemon ended up being what tied the salad together! I would have thought I was
really saying something”. Twenty-three is the age when the arrogance of youth wears thin.

‘A wise man knows – that he knows nothing.’ If this is the first step on the path to wisdom, wisdom is terrifying. A large part of me wishes for a return to the comfort of the mint and basil that was nestled between chunks of feta and pumpkin.

I’m talking about an inevitable process – the confidence of youth dying and beginning to be replaced by the self-assurance of adulthood. Boundless confidence is unsustainable once you’ve seen enough of the world. All we can do when we come up against these boundaries is learn from them. We learn how to deal with heartbreak. We learn that cherry tomatoes bring a certain brightness that is required in a salad that consists mainly of couscous and pumpkin. We learn that we can substitute baby plum tomatoes for the cherry tomatoes – while the flavour is uncompromised, the presentation does take a hit.

Twenty-three feels like another step in the very long process of slowly getting less wrong about things. All I can do is use that foundation of not-wrongness to find the new boundaries. Maybe next time, I’ll put some courgette in to roast with the pumpkin. Who knows what the future will hold?

I am merely a 23 year old comedian. I can make no promise to be right, only to keep going until I’m less and less wrong. Sometimes it feels like a very weird place to be, until I remind myself it’s important not to take it all too seriously – because all evidence points to the fact that I probably still haven’t got a clue. After all, it’s just jokes.

Let me tell you about a salad I made last week.

Rhys Mathewson ‘Hombre Lobo’ – Until Aug 25, Pleasance Courtyard, more info 

Going to the Edinburgh Festival?

• Unsure what to see? Read all The Scotsman reviews
• Don’t miss a thing. Sign up to our daily email newsletter
• Join the conversation with #WOWFEST and follow it live