Can a man in a speedo really change the world ? In Union Square, New York, a weird bearded guy in underpants has decided to give it a try, yelling messages of love at passing New Yorkers, offering hugs and absurd jokes at every corner.
A few weeks ago, the face of this man went around the web thanks to a video entitled « Word of wisdom from an unexpected citizen » and the whole world got to experience what is was like to randomly come across Matthew Silver, the wacky preacher of what he calls, the « Silly Revolution ». Over the years, Matthew Silver has become some kind of a New York icon, thanks to his performances in the street. Driven by an unstoppable silly force and hilarious shows, Matthew Silver delivers love messages daily… however the cost.
The TRYANGLE has the pleasure to introduce the « Great Performer » to its french readers.
A video of one your performances recently went viral on YouTube, sometimes without credits or giving any explanations of who you are. I went over people’s reactions to it, and I could sum it up as such : “This guy is almost certainly crazy but he’s damn right”. How do you feel about that ?
I don’t care that people think I’m crazy. The positive message is what went viral. Many people appreciate that. That’s what I care about. I’m here on this planet to create wacky love, I’m glad that I’ve achieved some level of success. People laugh yet they are deeply profound.
How did it all started ?
I was 25, I wanted to be a performer with a career. It was very difficult to get stage time so I started performing in the street. Now I’m very focused in just making people laugh. By doing it over and over I feel gifted. By sharing my talent I feel connected to the world. I don’t care if people are laughing at me or with me, I’m a clown. I was also blocked by my judgement at the time, I felt stupid often thinking that people would ridicule me . I was having an existential crisis and I need to break down my barriers as well. I wanted to teach myself fearlessness.
How do you prepare for your performances ? Is it the same for the street performances and for the ones on stage?
I just do it. It’s an on and off switch. Go into character, then go out of character. All my performance is in the moment and spontaneous. I flow when it works and flow when it doesn’t work. The biggest thing I’m focused on is making people laugh or waking them up a little bit.
How do people react ? Is it a social experiment for you ? You explain that, sometimes you stare at people who don’t laugh at the performance… Do you challenge them over ? Until they do ? Have you performed in other cities than NYC ? ( though you have become over the years an iconic figure for locals).
Sometimes people are weirded out, sometimes it makes them laugh, sometimes they don’t care, and other times they hate it and they state their opinion while I’m performing. Its not a social experiment for me. To me its fufilling my spiritual purpose. It’s why I’m here on this planet. I do stare at people and most of the time that makes them laugh, because they don’t expect that. A lot of times that’s all it takes is by looking at someone in the eyes with a silly face. No I haven’t performed in other cities yet, but I plan on going on a tour someday.
Matthew Silver – The Great Performer : The Back of the Busk
What is the purpose of your performances ? For instance, why do you walk to people with squeezing plastic animal like your chicken or your rat ?
My purpose is to make people laugh, because I believe laughter will bring in more love and peace into the world. It’s my job to make as many people as I can on the planet as long as i’m alive. I walk to people with squeezing toys because its silly. An adult acting silly teaches people that its ok to be silly.
You say people need to be silly, I quote : “We need a silly revolution […] there should be a weird guy on every street”. Could a silly revolution really happen and how ?
A silly revolution is quite possible. I know many people dread their normal 9-5pm life. There needs to be something that wakes up the system. Too many people do the same thing. I also know that I’m not the only silly guy in the world. This is what it takes, people are scared but they need to stop and give themselves the freedom to act silly. One of my big lessons is that Judging people keeps you in cage, because if you don’t allow others to be free, you don’t allow yourself to be free.
Source of the photo is the blog NYC Grid
In a documentary about you, you speak about how improvisation helped you out of an inner struggle with self-criticism. Is silliness a revolution for yourself, as an individual ?
Yes its a revolution for me, its taught me how to be more myself. For many years I felt blocked until I kept performing in the street over and over. I finally have a good feeling of who I am. You don’t know that until you experience the world in your unique style and vision. I’m not as shy as use to be 10 years ago. I started this when I was 25.
Do you have any models who’ve inspired your work ?
Yes Andy Kaufman, Jack Smith, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Alexandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch.
What is your best / worst street experience ?
My best experience street performing is when someone interacts with me unexpectingly or when someone laughs so hard they start crying. My worst experience was when this Tall man kept harrassing me to stop street performing in a speedo or I’ll kill you, there are children out here, eventually the guy got arrested for sexual harrasment of a woman. He tested me and gave me experience whether I like it or not. There was an article about it in the gotham city blog.
Do you have a message for our weird readers in France ?
Yes, if you want to be free in life and feel the love that is strong in your heart, Stop judging people. People are a reflection of you. and if you judge someone for being vulnerable by expressing their heart out. Your blocking yourself from expressing your heart and your not going to be happy. In short FART OUT YOUR HEART B-kawk!
How do you build a Love Portal ?
The love portal is symbol for when the entire world laughs at nothing at the sametime, which will boost the awareness of love and peace. A collective, metaphysical experience. B-kawk!