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Facilitators of Mirth

Mat Ricardo

Biography

Mat Ricardo

Awards & competitions

Mat Ricardo

Appearances & credits

Mat Ricardo

Writing credits

Mat Ricardo

Media & press

Biography

Mat Ricardo is, according to The Scotsman, “undoubtedly one of the greatest variety artists working today.”

His thirty-plus year career has seen him learn his craft as a street performer in London’s famous Covent Garden, before travelling the world’s theatres, cabaret clubs and festivals, advancing and redefining his artform to become one of the most critically acclaimed and successful speciality acts there is.

He is, to quote the London Evening Standard, “breathtaking.”

Mat Ricardo is a TedX Speaker, Magic Circle doyen, Royal Command Performer, the winner of the Herald Angel Award for theatre excellence, British Cabaret Award for Best Speciality Act, Stagetalk Magazine's Show of the Year, and the Arts Award Pick of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

"Immensely skilled and very funny"
– Time Out

 

"Mat Ricardo is amazing"
– HRH Prince Charles

 

"Mat Ricardo is the Derren Brown of juggling"
– LoveFringe

 

A natural comedian who presents huge laughs, serious skills, slapstick, breath taking spectacle, genuine danger, and dexterous elegance  - Mat is a man, very simply, at the top of his game. Except that he created the game. He continues to be one of the most quick-witted, high-skilled, well-travelled and sharply-dressed entertainers in the business.

“World class circus skills that can only be perfected through a lifetime of devotion”

"Mat Ricardo has done more to revive the art of variety than anyone else"
– The Magic Circle Magazine

 

"He has the power to make a roomful of people fall in love with an artform that they may have never considered seeking out before. But he is so much more. Ricardo is second to none"
– Broadway Baby

 

He can be relied on to pull a crowd and then reduce them to hysterics, all while showing them tricks they've never seen before, might still think are impossible, but will never forget. He has written extensively about the artform of street performance, and remains a bona-fide star of this world, being requested across the Globe to invite only International Festivals.

Since helping to spearhead the resurgence of new circus and variety in the late 1980’s, Mat has gone on to headline theatres across Europe, appear at countless international variety and comedy festivals, and on some of the finest cabaret and burlesque stages in the world. He's performed in such iconic venues as the Royal Albert Hall, The Savoy Hotel, and Hollywood's Magic Castle.

He has entertained corporate clients too numerous to mention, including the British Royal Family, and consulted on major Hollywood movies; teaching ‘Superman’ Henry Cavill in Guy Ritchie movie ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’, and tutored Hollywood heavyweight Jude Law on set.

Mat has guest-starred on many British television shows, most notably this year on America’s Got Talent, and ‘Tu Si Que Vales’, in Italy, but is never happier than when he's in front of a live audience, with a glint in his eye and a trick up his sleeve.

"He is charming and impeccably dressed, he has incredible skills and an admirable respect for the craft from which he now makes his living. Mat Ricardo is a Gentleman Juggler. And very witty with it...a funny, impressive, always entertaining show,..If you like your comedy with skills and more than a little genuine risk of amputation, try Mat Ricardo" – ★★★★ The Scotsman 

 

With his first one man show, “Three Balls and a new Suit”, he became the first ever cabaret artist to win the Herald Angel award for excellence in theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His groundbreaking work merges verbal and physical comedy, storytelling, dance, and of course, his trademark spectacular feats of dexterity.

As one of the busiest acts on the European cabaret scene, he's been named Best Speciality Act in the inaugural British Cabaret Awards. His second one man show “Vaudeville Schmuck” played to a sell-out run in London, and received five star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe.

"Utterly gobsmacking …surpassed all expectations and went down an absolute storm" – Mark Tattersall, Dorchester Corn Exchange

 

"Relentless hilarious, jaw-dropping fun…Ricardo’s smooth wit drives the show at full speed. The actual tricks are as stunning for their mastery as for their ingenious conception. You’ll struggle to find a show more tightly packed with cunning humour and spellbinding amusement. It takes more than dexterity to bring this timeless art to the forefront. It takes dazzling showmanship, spot-on comic timing and bucket-loads of style. It takes Mat Ricardo" – ER Magazine

 

His critically acclaimed and award-nominated West End “London Varieties” project mixed legendary names from the world of light-entertainment with some of the hottest young variety and circus acts, and consolidated his position at the forefront of the British variety revival.

"This circus star is a unique and unmissable showman" – EdFest Mag

 

"Probably the best juggler you will ever see" – What’s On Stage

 

"As a dapperly dressed gentleman juggler, his props include cigar boxes, snooker cues, silverware and – in a signature trick – tablecloths. His dexterity is captivating, whether he’s sending coloured bottles spinning like fireworks or manipulating a hat, cane and wine glass in an elegant routine that borders on dance – one of several bits perfectly timed to a musical track." – The Scotsman

 

His hour long show “Showman” premièred at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013, returning due to demand in 2014. It received some of the best reviews of his career, and went on to week-long sell-out London West End run, three date run at the London Mime Festival in 2015, and toured internationally.

In 2017, Mat was asked to give a prestigious TedX talk at Kings College London, an opportunity he relished, and which opened a new door, to Speaker engagements.

Alongside his performing work, he is an ambassador for the mental health non-profit “Mental Ideas” and a co-host of the accompanying radio show. For two years he was a regular columnist for the British comedy website Chortle, writing about subjects as diverse as depression and creativity, gender, internet trolls and originality. He has also contributed pieces for Time Out, The Magic Circular and the Huffington Post, and still maintains his own widely-read blog. An experienced interviewer, Mat has chatted to some of the biggest stars of comedy and entertainment live on stage for the BBC, The National Theatre, and in several West End theatres.

"A minor legend... We left feeling rather richer to have spent an hour basking in his warm and commanding presence"
– Total Theatre

 

"categorically one of the best shows I have ever seen. If you have the opportunity to go and see this show, you should totally, completely 100% go see it. In fact, stop reading this review and go book a ticket now…a show that has you going from the edge of your seat one moment, to roaring with laughter, and then straight back to tension! quite incredible." – Arts Award Voice

 

"real aplomb, terrific humour and genuine skill. This showman deserves your applause." – The Guardian

 

In 2018, Mat supported the living legend Brian Conley, as well as Mentalist Colin Cloud, as a special guest, on tour. He then went on to tour his own brand new show 'Mat Ricardo Vs The World' - reaching venues nationwide. This followed an incredibly successful, completely sold out, run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018. The show added extra performances in a much larger venue to its run, due to such huge demand for seats, and the show received incredible reviews.

The concept of the show was that as the UK’s most successful juggler, and after a 30-year career as the go-to guy for jaw-dropping dexterity, he'd run out of new tricks. So Mat bet everyone in the world that he could learn any trick they could think of, devoting the next year to attempting to learn them well enough to perform in front of a live audience.

This one-man variety show – world-class juggling, magic and illusion, escapology, sleight of hand, knife throwing, stand-up comedy, feats of strength, demonstrations of dexterity, captured audiences attention like no other. Every night Mat would also show a collection of some of the craziest, insane challenges he received. Each night, one would stand out – a tweet challenging him to appear on America's Got Talent - which was the seed of an idea which grew into fruition this Spring. 'Mat Ricardo Vs The World' was Mat's most critically acclaimed show to date, and played to packed rooms;

"Ricardo is a man obsessed with the process of learning new skills and his desire to share this with an audience is an ongoing theme of his Fringe shows.. Mat Ricardo is often described as the best variety act in the business and deservedly so" – ★★★★★Broadway Baby
Read the full review here

 

"A quintessential showman and self-described "vaudeville schmuck", Ricardo's variety act is normally defined by faultless delivery and impeccable preparation; but this time around, he's knocked away those supports, and gives us instead a portrait of raw endeavour." – ★★★★★Fringe Guru
Read the full review here

 

"Undoubtedly one of the greatest variety artists at work today.. a high-concept show a year in the making.. one trick provoked the purest gasp I’ve ever heard at such a show. It makes for another great show from a master of his form" – ★★★★The Scotsman 

Read the full review here

 

The AGT tweet was a small part of Mat's Edinburgh Fringe show, but soon became a reality, when US viewers saw him audition on arguably the worlds largest talent show, America’s Got Talent on NBC, to 11 million viewers across the United States. A certain amount of surprise was registered in the Cabaret world; its long been his frustration that the only viable place on television to see variety artists perform, is in a competitive format. How then, did he find himself in Los Angeles, walking through the ever impressive Universal studio lot, smiling into the blue steel abyss of Simon Cowells gaze, this Spring? 

Artistically, he had a white hot new act to show off; a cool, fun and fairly bulletproof trick that he suspected would work really well on the worlds largest stage. He'd also ofcourse, been challenged to perform on the show in his Fringe show, 12 months earlier, and this is not a man who's afraid of a challenge.

Mat blew away the Producers with his never ending wit, charm and skill. He aced the audition with a knife trick involving the legend that is Terry Crews, and received a well deserved standing ovation. Onto Judges Cuts a short time later, and Mat performed his best known trick – the tablecloth pull, and so much more, competing against an immense number of talented acts, all vying for a few coveted places. Watch here

"What I love about you is you are a Showman.. You're taking a gamble - that gamble paid off" – Howie Mandel

 

In 2019, Mat brought a new iteration of his hit 'Varieties' show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where he hosted a motley cavalcade of the UK’s premier variety acts, including Chortle Best Variety Act 2018 nominated Ada Campe, international sword swallower Snookie Mono and professional nerd Tom Crosbie, as well as a special guest each evening. It was further proof, if needed, that not only can Mat programme and host the best Variety line ups in the country, he can also perform in any space, to any size audience.

“The word ‘legend’ is bandied about a bit too much these days… But if there’s one man on the cabaret circuit who deserves that status, it’s Mat Ricardo. Adored by audiences, worshipped by performers, and with a trophy cabinet to rival Manchester United in the 90s, Mat is a genuine treat who never fails to astound.. If you want to see a strong contender for the most talented man in this festival, ably assisted by a stellar supporting cast, look no further than this extravaganza.” – ★★★★★ Broadway Baby
Read the full review here

 

“Mat Ricardo’s Varieties, a terrific variety night created by the brilliant juggler and showman.” – Scotsman

 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Mat has taken his writing and performing to his YouTube channel, relishing the chance to grow a whole new audience on that platform. In June of 2021, the podcast 'Imagination and Junk' was released. Hosted by Mat and US writer Bill Barol, its a brand new podcast about the hard work of creativity. Listen here

Stay up to date with Mat's latest shows and tours here, and his adventures on our news page

Mat has personal merchandise, available here

 

Awards/Competitions

Contestant - La France A Un Incroyable Talent, 2020

Winner - Toronto International Buskerfest 'People's Choice' Award, 2019

America's Got Talent, NBC - Judges Cuts, 2019

Winner - Ottawa Busker Festival 'People's Choice' Award, 2017

KleinKunst Award winner, Sparkasse Festival 2016

Herald Angel Award winner

Inaugural London Cabaret Award winner: Best Speciality Act

Arts Award Voice Pick of the Fringe Award 2014

Best Speciality Act Award nominee, London Cabaret Awards 2015

Appearances & credits

Festivals:

A tiny selection of the numerous festivals Mat has performed at:

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Street Performers Festival, Canada

Udderbelly Festival, Hong Kong

London International Mime Festival, Southbank Centre

Busan Festival, Korea

Holmfirth Arts Festival

Jesterval Comedy Festival

Birmingham Cabaret Festival

Brighton Fringe Festival

Canterbury Festival

Jyväskylä Festival, Finland

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Adelaide Fringe

Porsgrunn International theatre festival

Augsburg international theatre festival

Yokohama Daidogei festival, Japan.

British Arts festival, Korea

Andersen theatre festival, Italy

Fremantle arts festival, Australia

Christchurch World Buskers festival, New Zealand

Toronto Buskerfest, Canada

Kleinesfest, Hannover, Germany

Belfast festival of Fools

Limburg arts Festival

Television & film:

America's Got Talent - 2019 - NBC

Tu Si Que Vales - 2018 - Italy

Paul Daniels - My Life in Magic. 2017 - Channel 5

Duck Quacks Dont Echo. 2015 - Sky1

The People's Strictly Come Dancing. 2015 - BBC1

Now You See It. 2015 - BBC1

The Jonathan Ross Show. ITV

Unum "Back up plan" national ad campaign

The Alan Titchmarsh Show. ITV

Lets Do Lunch with Gino & Mel. ITV

The Slammer. BBC1

Edinburgh Nights. BBC2

Semi-regular on all series of Cilla Black's Moment Of Truth. ITV

Currently appearing at:

Corporate and private events 

Cabaret - Events and Shows worldwide

Theatre - One man shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and theatres nationwide. Also available as Tour support

Street performance - International Street and Buskers Performers Festivals worldwide

Writing credits

Imagination and Junk' - podcast with writer Bill Barol

YouTube Channel

Hugely successful personal blog

Cabaret Correspondent - Chortle, monthly piece on the Variety industry

Writer and Ambassador for Arts / Mental health website Brainstorm

Pieces for Time Out, The Huffington Post, BoingBoing, The Magic Circular

'Three Balls and a New Suit', Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2011

'Vaudeville Schmuck' Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2011

'Showman' Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2013

'Mat Ricardo Vs The World' Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2018

'Mat Ricardo's Varieties' Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2019

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