fool for hire.
A British-born, Brooklyn-based creature of the night, Matt Roper is an acclaimed performer and a staple of NYC's downtown variety scene. His diverse career has led him from the muddy fields of the Glastonbury Festival to the damp back-rooms of the Edinburgh Fringe, and from the cafés of Central Europe to Lincoln Center and beyond.
Under the guise of his alter-ego Wilfredo—a grotesque, deluded but loveable charmer—he has thrilled, adored and terrified audiences around the world. Instantly recognizable with his high-waisted trousers, tight shirt and a singing voice to die for, this powerhouse comedy creation has brought him international renown.
Showcasing a songbook of original song and twisted covers, Wilfredo first gained a cult following on the British music festival circuit, becoming the breakthrough hit of the Port Eliot Festival, sharing the stage with Jarvis Cocker. He has since toured to Australia, Iceland, Canada, Argentina, Italy, and the Czech Republic. In Cape Town he played to over 30,000 theatre-goers for the month-long annual comedy festival, and received the honour to perform for Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu in a gala performance for his Legacy Foundation.
At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Roper has appeared in Theatre Uncut's radical playlet Indulge, became a hit in the legendary set-swapping show Joke Thieves, and garnered critical praise in Routines—a look at stand-up comedy from both sides of the curtain. As Wilfredo, he has staged three feature length solo shows, polarizing critics and delighting festival audiences. He is also a proud recipient of a Malcolm Hardee Award.
As a solo performer his creations have their roots in the Commedia dell'arte form and in the lineage of the music hall, variety and circus traditions. The lineage is an authentic one—he is the son of the well known British variety comedian George Roper and the great-grandnephew of brothers Johnnie Cullen (Cullen and Carthy) and George Sanford (Sanford and Lyons), two early 20th century stars of the Music Hall stage.
Roper first came to the attention of New Yorkers with his performance as Chico Marx, eldest of the Marx Brothers, in a revival of the Broadway show I'll Say She Is, which played to sell-out houses and smash reviews at the Connelly Theater. His performance as lead comic in Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz's radical panto Jack & The Beanstalk—the first major pantomime to be presented in New York City for over a century—drew similar acclaim. Both productions received the critic's pick in the pages of The New York Times.
During the 2020 pandemic, Roper co-founded and hosted The Down Low Variety Show for a series of renegade performances in secret outdoor locations from Central Park to the East River Amphitheater—presenting a fast-paced palette of performance artists, jugglers, magicians, poets, opera singers and puppeteers.
Recently, he contributed his voice to the recording of Giraffes on Horseback Salad, a soundtrack album to accompany the release of a graphic novel based on an un-produced screenplay, written by Salvador Dalí for the Marx Brothers. Composed and produced by jazz multi-instrumentalist Quin Arbeitman, it features a score and spoken word vignettes from an ensemble of musicians and vocalists from across the globe.
Roper is a regular collaborator with the performance collective Visceral Abstractions, whose surrealist circus spectacular Sex Ed sold out the celebrated Brooklyn nightclub the House of Yes for two limited seasons. He is also known for his work with the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, the Secret Variety Society, and for his late night appearances at the infamous Slipper Room in Manhattan's Lower East Side.