These are hard times, and when things get really dark, we at Vulture like to double down on the things that are still capable of bringing us happiness. That’s why we’re running this recurring column, which serves as half-celebration and half-brainstorm for someone we’re consistently delighted to see show up on our screens: beloved British performer of stage and screen, Matt Berry. He’s best known for shows like Toast of London, The IT Crowd, and What We Do in the Shadows, but we’re confident that a performance by Matt Berry would spruce up all sorts of film and TV stories, big and small.
So a few times a month, we’ll be using this space to propose new, occasionally out-of-the-box opportunities or roles for Mr. Berry. We are confident that should he ever find this column, he will find it both confusing and mortifying.
Times have been tough in the Matt Berryverse. On January 21, season two of Year of the Rabbit, a show co-written by and starring Berry himself and one of our hidden gems of 2020, was canceled by Channel 4 due to funding issues at the network. Earlier today, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association denied the entire cast of What We Do in the Shadows even one Golden Globe nomination in what I can only describe as an act of tyrannical malice. These setbacks add a panicked urgency to a problem that has long been brewing in the traditional media landscape: Its infrastructure can no longer provide us with all the Matt Berry content we need. We, the people, are sick of waiting around for rooms of executives to decide whether the artists we love are worth airing. This is why it’s time for Berry to take matters into his own sturdy, pinky-ring-wearing hands. It is time for Matt Berry to become a Twitch streamer.
Think about it for a minute: a Matt Berry Twitch channel. It sounds so wrong but feels so right, like pizza bagels or buying stock in GameStop — two things that are already very popular with the average Twitch audience. Now, I don’t actually have any evidence that this man has ever so much as held a PlayStation controller. I’m not entirely confident he’d even know what one was if he saw it. But that’s fine! Gaming isn’t actually a requirement for Twitch stardom. The other day I logged on and saw a channel that was just a woman in her underwear pulling various items out of shopping bags, and five thousand people were watching it.
Now, consider that Berry is a man with an enormous built-in online audience just waiting for the opportunity to see his stream. He has almost 300,000 Twitter followers on an account he hasn’t even really used in almost a year. In addition to active fan communities on Instagram and Reddit, there is also a Facebook group called the Matt Berry Appreciation Society. I was honored to be accepted into this group after filling out the in-depth questionnaire required for each of their 19,000 dedicated Berry fans. The group trades photos, memes, quotes, and thoughts on his body of work; basically anything the man has ever done is of interest to these Berry enthusiastic fans. One user recently shared a BBC documentary from the 1970s about a phallic musical instrument called the Kaleidophon. It had nothing to do with Berry beyond being something his fans thought he might like. “Too much, I do hope Matt is aware of this,” one fan commented. “This looks like an instrument that Matt would definitely use and probably has,” wrote another. People fucking love Matt Berry.
In interviews, Berry is often quiet and reserved, which is not at all the kind of persona you’d expect to host a livestream. But his apparent disinterest in being a celebrity is a big part of his enigmatic appeal. The few interviews he’s done from home during the pandemic have given a rare glimpse at the stream that could be: Berry in his camera-ready wood-paneled home studio, wearing rosy aviator sunglasses and drinking from a tankard. It’s a whole-ass vibe that’s perfect for Twitch. I’ve mocked up an example here:
This man was made to be the internet’s daddy. All he needs is a better camera, an ethernet cable, a capture card, and a tech-savvy assistant for him to point at and say, “You there, fix my stream!” so he can focus solely on the content.
And make no mistake, Berry is a content machine, and Twitch is a content firehose. Sure, he could read the phonebook and we’d eat it up like the Matt Berry simps we are, but as we all know, he’s capable of far more. Here he is in his home studio in June 2020 singing a song about coronavirus. This would be the best thing on Twitch any day of the week that AOC isn’t streaming.
But — and I hope you’re sitting down for this — Berry also paints. He has a degree in it. But he’s kept his work mostly private, so the only Berry painting I’ve ever actually seen is the cover of his album Music for Insomniacs. Can you imagine a Bob Ross–style show, but make it Matt Berry doing surrealism? Doesn’t the mere thought of it make you almost insane? He could wear a beret. A Matt beret.
There’s also great guest potential. Over the past year, Berry has been doing virtual bits with Bob Mortimer and Anthony Atamanuik, so why not a chat show with Susan Wokoma, Natasia Demetriou, Richard Ayoade, Noel Fielding, Josh Homme, or Rich Fulcher? Only a complete sicko wouldn’t love this. Forget the Golden Globes, this could be the first Twitch stream to win an Emmy. No, an Oscar. No, a Presidential Medal of Freedom from one of the good presidents.
As Karl Marx once said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Right now, what we need is more Matt Berry than we are getting, and of all the people in the world, Berry is the man most able to give it to us. It’s time for him to side-step all these networks and awards shows that don’t know how to appreciate him and just do it live.
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