“Two Minutes With” is Weber Shandwick Seattle’s employee spotlight series that provides professional and personal insight into our rockstar team. Today, we’re highlighting copywriter Mike Mathieu. Enjoy!
What were you up to before joining Weber Shandwick as a writer?
Lots of different stuff in the performing arts, the most successful of which is a sketch comedy duo called The Cody Rivers Show. My best friend from college and I started the show as an obscure midnight gig at a tiny theater in Bellingham, WA, and eventually we traveled to comedy festivals and toured small theaters pretty much from coast to coast. We’ve made 17 unique “volumes” of work, each one about an hour long — a total of about 200 individual skits. For a few years we did the show full-time, but now we have other jobs (obviously) and work together when time allows.
That’s awesome! Do something funny right now.
It doesn’t work like that.
Fine. Be that way. I asked Google about you and read that you received a Genius Award in 2009. True?
Yes, from The Stranger [a weekly paper in Seattle]. We’re really proud of that. I can’t say for sure why we won it, but I know our goal has always been to be different than anything we’ve ever seen. Instead of riffing on the news or celebrities and stuff like that, we write our material by asking, “What is something cool or unusual we could do on stage?” We found that starting at a place of unfamiliarity and wonderment is a great way for us — and the audience — to discover things that are funny.
Very cool. Say something genius.
Again, it doesn’t work like that.
How does your experience in comedy translate to the writing you do now, at Weber?
Comedy is all about the audience — what do they want? What do they respond to? How do you challenge them and reward them at the same time? These questions are front and center with everything I do, so I feel I can adapt really well to the various audiences we try to reach with our work here.
Would you say your creative process is the same for everything you write?
I’m always looking for the story, even when I’m writing about things like leek soup or virtual desktops. Narrative is intoxicating. And really it’s a matter of opening the door for the reader. You can’t make anyone laugh or learn something — you can only make it possible for them to react. So my goal and challenge as a writer is to create that possibility, by stoking their curiosity and earning their trust. If I do that, then they’ll be open to laughing and learning and reacting however they see fit.
May I say it?