Wage Against the Machine: A spirited story of one man’s journey in the workplace

Carol Saffer

Southbank resident Matt Harvey’s first paid job was as a pie boy at the MCG when he was 16 years old.

He described it as a loose system of employment.

“It was like, this is the time you show up for work, if you are there you get paid cash on the day, and you wander [the terraces] and get paid on commission – more pies sold [means] more money in your hand,” he said.

His biography now states he is a comedian, writer, storyteller, and journalist from Melbourne who has toured shows across Australia and New Zealand.

Along the way from pie boy to comedian, his employment history is the nitty-gritty of his latest show, Wage Against the Machine, described as “a fast-paced hour of stand-up and storytelling set in the surprisingly angry world of customer service.”

Coming to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) in March, the show is about minimum wage and maximum grief, where the customer is always wrong.

When asked if there was a degree of bitterness in the show’s theme, Mr Harvey questioned was there a huge difference between satire and bitterness?

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“It’s hard not to be a bit bitter when I think back across the various workplaces I have worked and my experience with Robodebt.”

“I try to cover the bitterness with a sweet treat of jokes.”

He was once accused that a show’s notes were just rants.

“They begin as rants, but you sprinkle the jokes in between, and it becomes storytelling, satire and comedy,” he said.

Tackling issues like poverty-level jobs, class struggles and corporate versus human rights, this MICF premiere season is a darkly comic and appropriate observation about the day-to-day struggles of the working class.

“I take the audience on this journey with a story; they have to go up and down with me,” he said.

“I start at a place of construction by writing [what is] to take on stage and then build on it on stage.”

This aspect of his work creates a tailored style of satire that unfolds reality saying the quiet parts out loud and sharing the ridiculous with people.

The show’s finale is the tale of when he saved the lives of 18 people, which he won’t divulge or even give a hint about, so get along to Heroes Bar and hear for yourself.

Wage Against the Machine runs from Thursday, March 31 to Saturday, April 23 at Heroes Bar, 188 Bourke St, Melbourne.

For tickets, call 9245 3788 or online at comedyfestival.com.au/2022/shows/wage-against-the-machine

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