PUEBLO, Colo. – Prior to heading to Australia for this month’s PBR Australia Cup Series events, entertainer Matt Merritt and announcer Matt West shared with PBR.com how it’s been working the Australia PBR events for the past couple of seasons.
Since working their first PBR event together five years ago in North Carolina, Merritt and West have developed a strong relationship inside the arena, as well as an even greater friendship away from it.
Merritt and West will be working this coming weekend’s Tamworth Invitational on Saturday in Tamworth, Australia.
JF: This will be the fourth time you guys will be working together in Australia. How excited are you to be returning once again?
Merritt: “There are a lot of reasons why I like going over there. It was an honor the first time and then I got over there and they treat you like a king. They try to show you everything about the way they do things and their culture. They are always excited to talk to somebody from some other place like America. Everybody I ran into is nothing but nice.”
WEST: “It’s the people over there. It is the fans and the people that we get to work with that keep you going back. If it weren’t for the people, it would just be another bull riding. Life is just so different over there. It is hard to put into words even.”
JF: How much has the sport grown compared to years past?
WEST: “The sport is definitely growing. Every time we go over there, I feel like there is more people showing up for the events. It is cool. You can almost see over there what happens here 15-16 years ago. It is like the foundation has been laid and now you start to see it growing in popularity and seeing more people becoming not only more aware, but more knowledgeable about it.”
MERRITT: “We get to go to Townsville. The event is 16 years old and last year it was sold out by Wednesday. They have been to keep growing something over there for so many years. Hopefully, it can continue to grow. These events are some of the coolest ever and it has helped me with what I do, too.”
JF: You can tell the Australian fan base is continuing to embrace the sport of professional bull riding, has it been hard trying to keep the Australian fans entertained and engaged?
MERRITT: “The first time I went over there and the very first night for half of that performance it was a little strange. I was so worried there would be phrases and things that I would say that they wouldn’t get. I was just worried I was going to be confusing the audience with my style of comedy. Matt called me over and said, ‘Hey man, just do your thing.’ That second half went real good and from then on it went real well everywhere I have been over there. I try to do a lot of stuff that is honest comedy. Honesty always makes people laugh. I talk about the differences in America versus them, and I make fun of us for having people like Miley Cyrus coming out of our country.
WEST: Believe it or not there is a little bit of a language barrier even though we both speak English. I just remember the first time I went over there, I would start talking and they would be like, ‘What are you talking about.’ But you adjust and it’s great.”
JF: How much does it help working alongside each other for so many years, whether it is in Australia or in the United States?
MERRITT: “He calms me down when I need to be calmed down, and I will pep him up a little bit whenever he needs it. He is the cool, any information you need guy, and I am the one that takes it out to left field, but somehow he is able to go out into left field with me.”
WEST: “Man, for us, we know what each other is thinking. We spend so much time together outside of the arena that we have a pretty good grasp on what the other person is thinking. The thing about it is we both watch everything behind the scenes, so we know. Matt pays so much attention to the chutes and the production that he knows when I will need help and when he needs to jump in and fill time. We just kind of feed off each other. We really do.”
JF: It also doesn’t hurt being over there with one of your best friends, right?
MERRITT: “We spend a lot of time together in the states. Behind the scenes, Matt is really just a Teddy Bear. He, Richard Jones and I went to a Mariners game before a Touring Pro Division event up in Lynden, Washington. We flew into Seattle and went to a Mariners game to kill some time, and we walk into the stadium and there is this young couple in their 20s trying to get a picture of themselves with them field in the background before the game. He immediately runs up to them and says let me take that picture for you. He is that guy everywhere we go, doing what he can for others.”
WEST: “We clicked right away. Our personalities kind of drew us together outside of the arena. We spend so much time together throughout the year that we’re really close outside of the arena. We talk several times a week and almost every day. When we get over there it is like, ‘Hey we are with one of our best friends halfway across the world. We don’t take it for granted and we really don’t.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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