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Q&A: Matt Besser, Part One

Hogs fans could use a laugh or two following the debacle in Lexington. As part of our ongoing effort to speed the healing process, we thought it would be a good time to publish part one of our recent interview with the world's funniest Hog fan, Matt Besser.

The Little Rock native and proud Razorback fan is a founding member of the improvisational comedy group the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). From 1998 to 2000, UCB, which by then included current Saturday Night Live star Amy Poehler, had a critically acclaimed sketch show on Comedy Central. Besser also was a co-creator of the MTV prank show "Stung" and a co-creator and star of "Crossballs," a parody of cable news programs that ran on Comedy Central in 2004. His other works include the truly hilarious prank-call album "May I Help You (Dumbass)?" and roles in "Junebug," "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," "The Bernie Mac Show," "Fraiser," "Spin City" and more. (For detailed overviews of his career, visit here and here.)

We had a blast talking with Matt, and very much appreciate his taking the time to visit with us. And now, read on for his thoughts on the wit and wisdom of Lou Holtz, why calling the Hogs is either like yoga or Mass, and much more:

Photo from the Arkansas Times

Tell us how your Razorback fandom began. Was there a particular player or season that started you off as a fan?

I’d say I got into the basketball and football teams at the same time. I’m 41, so I was around for The Triplets, and Sidney Moncrief was probably my first hero. I still have his Sports Illustrated cover hanging in my garage. That was a great team. And the Ron Calcagni Razorbacks football team, that whole era.

The Orange Bowl over Oklahoma?

The Orange Bowl is probably my favorite game of all time, or at least top two.

That was a particularly good year for the Hogs. You picked a good time to become a fan.

Lou Holtz, I was also a huge fan of. He was really funny. I think that’s a big part of why I was attracted to the Razorbacks: I thought Lou Holtz was really funny. He is really funny. Too bad he’s a born-again, or whatever.

I had his "Holtz' Quotes." He had something called "The Kitchen Quarterback," and I bought that book.

You had a recent stand-up show called "Woo Pig Sooie." Tell us how you came to name it that.

The whole show is about religion, and how I don’t like it, pretty much. If I had anything like that in the title, no one would have come and seen the show. I thought I’d fool people into making them think it was about sports or making them think that’s just a funny name, "Woo Pig Sooie." I think most people don’t even know what "woo pig sooie" is, if they’re not sports fan or they’re not from Arkansas.

I did make them call the Hogs at the end of my show. My basic point was that the Razorbacks are kind of my religion or my obsession. I pray to — I pray to Petrino at this point.

There’s something about the Razorbacks that’s unique to Arkansas — I don’t know how many states have just one team that the entire state coalesces around. We don’t have a pro team, so everybody’s into the Razorbacks. Everybody’s watching the Razorbacks on Saturday.

Are you able to keep with the team pretty well out in Los Angeles? Do you listen to them over the Internet or watch them over the Internet?

I did. There’s nothing more pathetic than listening to a football game over the Internet, but I’ve done that. Luckily, the sports packages on satellite TV have improved that in recent years, where I can see a lot of the games. Although I see that certain games now are pay-per-view from Arkansas. I would hate to have had to pay for that Louisiana-Monroe game. [editor's note: this interview took place shortly after the ULM game.]

When you asked people to call the Hogs at the end of your show, what was the reaction like? Confusion?

Confusion. I would focus on people who weren’t energetic enough and make them do it over again. But I think for a lot of people, it’s like yoga. They feel a sense of joy and relief from calling the Hogs. There’s really not much difference between calling the Hogs and doing Catholic mass.

(stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of our interview with Matt, coming soon)