At once confrontational and classic, Maddog Mattern is like the lovechild of the Beastie Boys and Don Rickles. The New York-based comic free-associates rapid-fire jokes based on the audience and the environment, all the while dropping Rat Pack slang and names of long-dead sports hall of famers. No two performances are alike.
Before he started headlining New York’s best comedy clubs, touring the country with the One Mic Comedy Tour and the Ronnie Mund Block Party, and appearing on a weekly sports argument show on MSG called “The Bracket,” Maddog was a young comedian trying to get Las Vegas barflies to listen to him. “People there don’t care about what you’re saying,” he says. “They’re too busy pissing away their rent and meth money on video poker.”
While he may have honed his style shouting over slot machines, Maddog is no mere insult comic. In fact, he’s been called a compliment comic. While that’s not entirely true either, he almost always takes the unexpected route to a joke. “Other comics tell me what I do is weird and wrong and not real comedy,” he says. The laughs beg to differ.
Media has always been a big part of Maddog’s life, and none more than the sports almanac his grandfather brought home one day. Young Maddog memorized it. “I had plenty of years of not getting laid and not having any friends,” he explains. When he visited “The Artie Lange Show,” Lange the two had no shortage of sports stories and trivia to riff on.
On television and radio, Maddog’s wit achieves its full potential. Instead of just the fans in front of him, he has the world, the whole absurd celebrity culture to lampoon. The famous can’t hide in the back rows like his more timid fans. Still, there’s just something akin to a punk rock show about seeing Maddog in person. There’s a thrill in unpredictability, a certain joy in feeling a little unsafe. If you think that sounds like it would invite heckling, you’d be wrong.
Going into a performance with Maddog, Shuli Egar recently told an interviewer, “He’s our pit bull. We send Maddog out there and he lets pretty much everybody know there’s only going to be one guy talking, and he’s holding a mic.”