My exclusive interview with Matt Parkinson (the Chaser known as ‘Goliath’ in The Chase: Australia ) continues this week.
Of course, Matt wasn’t always a Chaser; for many years beforehand, he was a successful and beloved comedian, actor, writer and radio presenter. And the first really public airing of his quiz credentials was when he played – and won – Sale of the Century, back in 1992. Matt and I discussed his triumph there in detail in last week’s post. Now, the story continues…
SH: I remember watching your shows at the time, and I have looked for them on YouTube but they are not around anywhere that I was able to find… how was your run? Did you win comfortably each night? Were there any close moments?
MP: I think I had one. I know that I was winning comfortably early, because back in the format that I had there was the board at the end of the game, like a sandwich board with prizes on it and you picked a number off the board and whatever you had you could take home that night. So on my second night, I picked the car. So I could have gone home second night with like $7000 from the Cash Card, and a Volkswagen, funnily enough. Which was different from the showcase car, which was a Nissan at the time. But my practical concern was “if I do that I am going to go home now, I would be sitting in my room and I would be bored again. Whereas if I stay I might…” So I know that the first two shows must have been pretty cruisy because I was in that frame of mind of “Yeah, I could go further! This is easy!” But I do remember late on the first day having a bit of a narrow squeak and going “ooh, that’s pretty close”. So I’m gonna say probably my third show was a bit closer and then my fourth show must have been another convincing win because I didn’t equivocate about whether or not I was going to come back or not.
SH: Beforehand did you have an over-reaching strategy of “if things get to a certain point I will bail out” or “I’m just going to go for broke”?
MP: No, my strategy the whole time was that I would just keep going until someone beats me. I know the sort of person I am. Otherwise years later I would be watching Sale, going “I could have beaten you, I should have just stayed on”. I just didn’t want to have that, so I thought I’ll go until someone beats me and then I will know that I went as far as I could possibly go.
SH: In what ways did the win change your life immediately?
MP: Immediately? People had a different opinion of me. Up till then, people just assumed because I was a comedian I wouldn’t know very much, and my opinion about things wouldn’t matter. So it was easier to get gigs for a start, after it had been on air. And even people who knew me, (even though you are not supposed to tell people about the win), once they knew that I had won – and that was a fairly select group – they all started treating me like…. People start asking you questions that you possibly couldn’t know the answer to. Trivia questions, fact questions –
SH: “You know everything – what’s this?!”
MP: Yeah, exactly. Things you really want to go “how the hell would you think I know the answer to this? Oh yeah, that’s right – because you think I know everything”. So it changed my life in that respect. Also people knew I had money. So things like… I don’t think I would have been asked to be on the (Melbourne International) Comedy Festival board, except for the fact that all of a sudden you are smart and you have money.
SH: Why does having money make a difference?
MP: Because back in those days, the structure was different and the people on the board had to be prepared to financially underwrite a financial disaster. Which was only the case for a couple of years, but if the Festival had bottomed out in the early years, people on the board – as directors of a company running it – would be required to cover. That was my understanding, anyway. So there was no room for poor people on the board. It was always perceived as I was rich. But I’m not rich like the other people around that table; they’ve all got share portfolios!
SH: Yeah. Do you still have any of the fabulous prizes?
MP: Oh yes.
SH: Which ones?
MP: We’ve got a really nice dining set, very Australian. It sort of has an Australian farmhouse colonial look. So it’s not terribly fashionable, but it is beautifully made and 23 years later, it doesn’t creak, it doesn’t move, it’s six chairs and a standard size dining room table and I’ve never had to repair it or fix it, there’s no splinters, it’s beautiful. I am very happy with it and I will look at it sometimes and go “Jeez, you’re doing well – 23 years!” What else would I still have? I scored a big fridge at some stage, not in the showcase, but in the gift shop or something and that is the beer fridge at my sister’s and brother-in-law’s shed in Bridgetown, WA.
SH: That’s still going strong?
MP: Yes. It doesn’t look great. That’s why it’s the beer fridge now.
SH: Wear and tear.
MP: But gee it’s probably the best beer fridge going around because it is a big one. A beer and bait fridge, I think.
SH: Ah, beer and bait, very good.
Next week, Matt and I discuss his long running role as a member of ‘The Brains Trust’ on The Einstein Factor, and his latest incarnation as ‘Goliath’ on The Chase: Australia... and how he got there !