Matteo Lane returns to Chicago after making it big in New York. He performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and on Comedy Central.
He can be seen on TV with IFC, MTV and MTV2, and soon on Netflix.
He not only studied storyboard and fashion illustration at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but lived in Italy as an oil painter. Lane is full of surprises and answered some questions before his arrival back home.
Windy City Times: Do you go by Matthew or Matteo?
Matteo Lane: My mother is Italian and Mexican. My dad is Irish. My birth name is Matthew. I was nicknamed Matteo and my family in Italy calls me that.
When I was 18, Facebook came out and I was warned by my Aunt Cindy to not use my regular name because my job might be watching so when I used Matteo. It just stuck forever!
WCT: How many languages do you speak?
ML: I speak five. English, obviously, and I am most fluent in Italian. My Spanish is better than my French, but to American speakers who don't speak anything, I am fluent. I studied German in high school.
WCT: You grew up in Chicago?
ML: Yes. My family is all here.
WCT: Are they coming to your show?
ML: Yesit is going to be annoying. I was told to promote it, but if I just tell my mom, then 58 people will know and all come!
When I did my first show about seven years ago, I was doing three minutes and 32 members of my family came.
Have you ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? That's my life!
WCT: Did you live in Italy?
ML: I did. I used to go back a lot to visit family and friends. I studied there in Umbria for five months. I went twice last summer and I am going back in April. We are from Sicily and Messina.
WCT: You sing opera?
ML: I started singing when I was 15. I got a good vocal coach named Nick Falco, who still teaches there. He taught me breathing exercises and diaphragm control. I was as rebellious as gay kid can get and wanted to sing Broadway. I was real punk rock. We would argue about that.
WCT: Have you seen shows at the Lyric?
ML: The first show I saw there was The Magic Flute when I was 16.
WCT: Why move to New York?
ML: I moved to New York because I was illustrating television commercials and fashion ads. I was a storyboard artist. I was freelancing in Chicago for New York so I could draw from home.
I drew commercials for Lexus and 7 Up.
When a bank asked me to move to New York in 30 days and I had been doing comedy for seven months in Chicago I knew I could make it there!
I found an apartment with a six floor walk up and a bathroom in its kitchen. It was in the Village and I lived like a Polish immigrant from 1950. It was fabulous.
The day I moved I started doing comedy in New York. I would wake up at 6 a.m. and go to work an hour early so I could leave an hour early and go to open mics until at least 2 a.m. I did that every single day for a solid year and a half.
WCT: You are a man of many talents.
ML: Thanks. This is what happens when you are called "faggot" all the time. You have to prove everyone wrong.
WCT: Why be an out comic?
ML: Can you ever imagine me being onstage and saying, "This girlfriend and I are having problems!" I have the gayest voice on the face of the planet. What world could I go up and present myself as straight?
Timing-wise it worked that being out was okay and doing comedy in the straight community was okay. People like the Puterbaugh Sisters in Chicago or Beth Stelling were really supportive of my comedy and allowed me to be myself.
A lot of my training not only came from open mics but from the help of comedians that were way more established than me. They allowed me to showcase at really great shows. Straight comics would watch and see so I would get booked at other shows.
WCT: What hot topics will you be talking about at the Lincoln Lodge?
ML: I will be discussing Lindsay Lohan's Instagram, my love for The Great British Bake Off and how much I hate Ohio.
WCT: Why do you hate Ohio?
ML: I got called "faggot" three times in one day, [and] was stuck eating at The Cheesecake Factory twice in one dayit is just is a terrible place.
WCT: My friend is always trying to get me to visit there.
ML: Why? Because they have a brewery?
WCT: They have a bathhouse.
ML: I am way too neurotic for a bathhouse. One time I went to Steamworks just to get tested on the third floor by Howard Brown. I walked through it and it looked like a Laser Zone for old men in jockstraps.
WCT: What is your favorite Chicago gay bar?
ML: The Taco & Burrito Palace.
WCT: You tweeted that Drag Race is your NFL?
ML: Yes. I think the passion for Philadelphia is gone because they burned it to the ground. I can't imagine having that much passion for something. People are so invested in sports. My version of it I realized is Drag Race. I call all my friends talking about it like it's a sports game.
"Did you see what BenDeLaCreme did?" and "What was Thorgy wearing?" We talk about it like it's statistics, but it's drag queens.
Straight guys watch sports every day and get that catharsis to watch something and relate to it. I have to wait once a year for the Oscars for that. Drag Race keeps me from being six feet under.
WCT: Who is your favorite drag queen on Drag Race?
ML: My best friend, Bob the Drag Queen. I speak to him every single day. We havre our own comic book called Kickass Drag Queen on Instagram. I do all the drawings and Bob does all the writing. It is based off Bob as a superhero.
Vice did a whole article on it. You would think we had cured cancer the way they talked about it!
WCT: If you were going to make a halftime show, who would you pick?
ML: I would say Mariah Carey, but not enough people care and she's not up for it. We got all the divasMadonna, Gaga and Beyonce. I would like Janet Jackson and her redemption. She needs to go back up and show everyone she's great.
WCT: What is your Snapchat series, Ghost Hunt?
ML: I host it and it is basically a lighter version of Catfish. We find two people who ghosted each other and I bring them back together. I make fun of everyone. It is really funny and the highest rated show on Snapchat.
WCT: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
ML: I just shot a Netflix special. I have more Ghost Hunt coming out. I am going to Glasgow Comedy Festival, then going to Spain to see my boyfriend.
Look for Lane at The Lincoln Lodge, 956 W. Newport Ave. on March 2-3 at 8 p.m.; visit TheLincolnLodge.com or call 773-251-1539 .