A Comedian’s Advice

Matt Hovde ’96, director at The Second City, finds success by embracing fear, empathy and the word “yes.”

(Matt Hovde earned his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film production. This article, which was told to Rachel Stowe Master ’91, originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of “TCU Magazine.”)

By the time he was 6, Matt Hovde ’96 knew he wanted to be a comedian. Midway through college, he knew The Second City — the world-renowned comedy club in Chicago — was his dream. He headed to the Windy City after graduation, completed Second City’s yearlong professional training program and set up his own troupe, doing comedy festivals and original shows for about four years before landing an audition with Second City. In 2003, he joined the staff to direct its touring company.

photo of Matt Hovde

Matt Hovde ’96, artistic director at The Second City Training Center and director at The Second City. (Photo courtesy of Matt Hovde)

Now Hovde wears two hats: As a Second City director, he works with actors and designers to create original shows. As artistic director at The Second City Training Center, he manages teachers and curriculum for the always-growing school that teaches the art and principles of improvisation to aspiring comedians, actors, retirees, Parkinson’s patients, business-people, kids, teens and many others. Along the way, Hovde has picked up a few lessons on comedy and life:

Empathy. I think there is great wisdom in seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. While at TCU I think I was pretty self-centered as I figured out who I was and what I stood for, but my work in comedy has really helped me see the value in someone else’s point of view — it adds to my own understanding. It also allows us to find common ground. Much of comedy comes from finding truths that many people can relate to — the angst of a breakup, the frustration of calling your cable company — and then exaggerating the details.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Passion and confidence are much more attractive qualities when tempered by reality and humor.

Read more in “TCU Magazine.”