Matt Receives the Joey Riley Comedian of the Year Award for 2013

Posted by Matt Gumm on September 20, 2013 Blog | | One comment

matt and joey2013 has been a whirl-wind of a year for our town (Branson) and for me personally. I’ve experienced a couple of great achievements, but also suffered a big loss.

Earlier this week the Branson Show Award winners were announced and I was truly humbled to learn that I had won ‘Comedian of the Year’ for 2013. This year however, they have re-named the award after my buddy Joey Riley. As I was excited to hear of the win, it also reminded me what a great loss we all recently experienced.

Joey Riley went home to be with Jesus on July 19. Joey was my cast-mate at Clay Cooper’s Country Express, and an entertainer I truly respected. It was amazing to see the entire Branson community and beyond come together to not just mourn the loss, but really celebrate his life. He brought joy to so many people and it was incredible to see people lift him up in honor.

So, here’s where I am. Here’s where the honesty comes in. Joey and I both being entertainers and comedians in the same show, could be hard at times. Joey ALWAYS got laughs, big laughs. People loved him. He was a GREAT entertainer.

There were nights I wondered, “did I get as many laughs as Joey? Am I doing something wrong?” Isn’t it our human nature to compare ourselves and be self-conscious with those who may have an edge up on us? Looking back, in hind-sight, I hate that I worried about those things. I wish instead that I had congratulated him more, that I had cheered him on, every night on the sidelines.

Don’t get me wrong, Joey and I were buddies, had a great relationship, never any hard feelings. We both had incredible respect for the others talents. But we were both fleshly men, and most likely being the cool dude he was, he never wondered, “did I get as many laughs as Matt?” He was so solid in who he was as an entertainer, I hope to be like him when I grow up.

All this being said, in my mind, the timing of this award is God-appointed. It’s allowed me to reflect on this past year, the really great things that have happened, and all that Joey has taught me through his life and death. Joey should have won this award this year, but instead the award has been named after him, in his honor, and was given to me.

God is teaching me and growing me up day by day. So, here’s where I am now, I’m looking back at my time with Joey, watching him, admiring him, looking up to him, and hoping to be more like him. I want to be solid in my confidence as an entertainer, the first one to congratulate others in their achievements, just like Joey did.

We miss Joey dearly at Clay Cooper’s Country Express. He was such a great part of our show. I still hope I get as many laughs as he always did and it’s with great honor to win HIS award.

Thank you Lord for the gift of comedy and laughter. Thank you that I GET to make people laugh for a living. And thank you that one day, by your grace, I may have an impact on another young comedian punk like Joey did on me. I hope this post makes you smile Joey.

Miss you buddy.

1 Comment

  • Clay Cooper said on Sep 26, 2013 4:48 am

    Matt, Well said my friend! I think it’s normal and human nature to watch another entertainer that does what you yourself does and wonder, “Am I that good?” We all do that. It’s what drives us and makes us better at whatever it is we do! Joey was my lifelong friend and one awesome entertainer for sure. He was just a natural and could raise an eyebrow or have a little sideways grin that made people smile. I miss him everyday. Matt, you are the first person to win The Joey Riley award! What an honer. And well deserved my friend. You are a great talent and I am lucky to call you my pal and even more lucky to have you perform in my show for the last eight years. I look forward to working with you for many years to come.

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