Matty Blake, fresh out of Salem state with a degree in criminal justice, lived in Boston and worked with high-risk children in the mid-1990s.
Always someone who made family and friends laugh with jokes and impersonations, Blake found himself on stage one night after his brother signed him up for an open mic night at a comedy club. . The crude but resolute performer left the audience begging for more.
“I won it, and it kind of was the start of it all,” said the affable and easy-going Blake, 49, last week as he walked the family’s dog Rocky. a Shih Tzu-Bichon mix, in his adopted hometown of Barrington, Rhode Island.
The start of an unexpected career that led Blake to become a stand-up comedian and then an actor, who appeared in nationwide commercials (ispot.tv/ad/tspm/spectrum-internet-the-right-connection), big budget movies (“Mystic River”) and a variety of popular TV series.
He is currently the energetic, enthusiastic and curious host of two accompanying shows to the hugely popular “The Curse of Oak Island” reality TV series on the History Channel.
Zoned on basketball
While Blake, whose legal last name is Bleakney, has been a familiar face on the History Channel for the past six years, ironically enough, he hasn’t excelled in history or, for that matter, in any subject matter then. that he was about to graduate from Nashoba. Regional in 1990.
“I just wasn’t a good student,” the former Stow resident said frankly. “Today I think I would be put in drama school, or just something. They were like, “This kid is smart enough, but he can’t concentrate. I would sit there and dream about anything.
Blake was zoned when it came to basketball, however. Lacking in size and speed, he made up for it with a lot of determination and effort to work his way up to become a two-year varsity starter who served as chiefs captain then as a senior.
Then he traveled to Salem State with the goal of becoming a police officer.
Blake’s passion for basketball led him to try and make the Vikings, one of the best Division 3 programs in the country, as a replacement. He didn’t make the cup, but got a promise.
Coach Jim Todd, a Fitchburg State graduate who would go on to coach the NBA, told Blake, who was now 6-foot-3 after a substantial growth spurt over the summer between high school and college, that he liked what he saw of the hardworking, high-energy guard.
And if Blake could get stronger and faster, Todd would save him a spot on the squad in his sophomore year. The potential player has done his part and the coach has kept his word.
Blake went on to become a three-year-old college player who started out and captained the Vikings as a senior. He was on three MASCAC Championship teams and two NCAA Division 3 tournament teams, one of which qualified for the Sweet 16.
“His the best athletic achievement of my career, ”said Blake, who bounced, defended, passed and set screens but left the scoring to the others.
“I was definitely late for flowering. It was just perfect timing for me. I was a way, way better player in college than I ever was in high school. It’s not even close.
A guy “standing”
Blake won the aforementioned open mic competition less than a year after graduating from Salem State in 1994 and decided to take the plunge as a professional comedian. He did stand up five nights a week and improv theater with ImprovBoston, learning as he went because he had no stage experience.
While the pay was meager – although better than the state pay earned by working with high-risk children – the education was invaluable, if not without pitfalls.
“It was sort of my college education in acting,” Blake said. “I was learning as I was doing it. Over the past three or four years, I’ve done nothing but perform, fail, and learn.
Blake then made a major breakthrough by qualifying for the northeastern regional final of the Comedy Central stand-up competition “Laugh Riots” in New York City in the early 2000s.
Although Blake was second, one agent in the audience was impressed enough to sign him. He has since been represented by Buchwald, a full-service bi-coastal talent agency.
The experience led to moving from Boston to New York to really get into the performance.
“I was the definition of a working actor,” Blake said. “I did it all. I did tons of commercials on national networks, I did tons of voiceovers – it was kind of my daily job, doing voiceovers for commercial and TV shows. .
“I played roles in movies, I played roles in television – all roles, roles all day long. I never had the big recurring role that made me a star, but I supported my family as an actor for 15 years.
Blake and his wife Colleen, from southeastern Massachusetts, will celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary in May. They have a son, Max, a sophomore at Barrington High and an avid singer and golfer.
Blake has appeared in “Orange is the New Black,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “30 Rock” on television and “Mystic River” – sharing the screen for a brief scene with Kevin Bacon – in the movies.
Interestingly enough, the future cop played the role of a police officer in all of them.
“So there is something in the universe that finds you,” said Blake.
With “The Curse of Oak Island” at the top of the ratings as the # 1 reality TV series on cable since its debut in 2014, it was only natural that there was a fallout.
After all, the only thing better than a show that follows treasure and artifact hunters on an island in the vast Mahone Bay off the coast of Nova Scotia is two.
Blake landed the role of host of “The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down” – the producer was looking for someone with an adventurous spirit and an interest in the mysteries of the world – and made his debut on the series, which has a paranormal appearance. , in 2015.
Last year, Blake added accommodation features to “Beyond Oak Island,” which examines treasure hunts and mysteries around the world.
In addition to spending a lot of time in Canada, where he has become very recognizable, Blake has traveled to Michigan, Texas and Utah for episodes. Europe was on the route before the pandemic brought it to an end.
The “Oak Island” franchise has been a boon to the islanders, creating all kinds of cottage industries. It also had a huge impact on Blake, who sees himself as a liaison between the series and the fans.
“I mean, it changed my life in all measurable ways, personally and professionally,” Blake said. “So I love everything about it. But if I had to say one thing, it would be the relationships I have forged with the cast and crew. Working with them is a bit like being on a sports team.
“It’s a perfect analogy because everyone has their role and you have a lot of pressure to get things done. Everyone is really professional, good at their job and against the clock. We do it one way or another and that’s the same feeling you get in sport when you win a game, it’s like, “Yeah, we did.” “
—Contact Rich Garven at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RichGarvenTG.