The American comedian, actor, writer, podcaster, and TV host Matt Rogers. Since 2016, he and Bowen Yang have co-hosted the popular culture podcast Las Culturistas, through which he has gained widespread recognition. Rogers was born to Richard and Katrina Rogers on Long Island, and he spent his childhood there.
Rogers was crowned prom king during his senior year at Islip High School. He then continued his education at New York University, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing after finishing high school.
While in college, Rogers joined the improv troupe Hammerkatz and began classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade in 2009. Rogers and Yang’s initial encounter occurred during their time at NYU.
Is He a Homosexual?
He definitely identifies as a member of the gay community.
Matt Rogers: ‘A Lot of People Have an Antiquated, Whitewashed Image of What a Gay Person Is’
Matt Rogers spent several family vacations to Fire Island when he was a kid. They leaned heavily toward heterosexuality. The comedian and actor, who grew up close on Long Island, always thought of the area as a generic beach destination suitable for family vacations. ‘Ya know what I mean, JWoww from Jersey Shore was a bartender there,’ he says to me.
Rogers, though, was aware that this was only half of the story. He was familiar with Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, two enclaves within the resort that had been a gay mecca for decades. For as long as I can remember, they’ve made me nervous and scared,” Rogers admits. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to suggest to somebody, “Hey, why don’t we go there for a day?”
Ultimately, at the age of 19, Rogers came out while he was a student at New York University. Here, too, he connected with a future partner and SNL cast member Bowen Yang. They have a podcast together called Las Culturistas, where they talk about their lives and careers, both of which have been on the rise recently, and the highs and lows of pop culture.
Rogers has been in Shrill, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, and Search Party, among others, and she provides the voice for the wonderfully titled character of Twink in Netflix’s LGBTQ+ animated series Q-Force. Rogers is a force to be reckoned with on-screen, and she brings positive energy to every part, no matter how little.
During a very interesting time, I speak with him through Zoom at his Los Angeles residence. Rogers, too, seemed to be agitated. As of the show’s US premiere, he is co-starring with Jennifer Lewis and Molly Shannon in the Vanessa Bayer Showtime comedy I Love That for You.
In addition, he’ll be revisiting Fire Island, though not the same areas he knew and loved as a kid. The comedian isn’t going back to his early adulthood when he first experienced the LGBT subculture. Rogers describes it as both exciting and “a really anxiety-inducing place to be.”
A highly anticipated LGBT rom-com is making an effort to replicate that exact feeling. Fire Island uses Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen as an unexpected literary influence to achieve this goal.
Comic Joel Kim Booster wrote and stars in this piece that imagines a world in which Regency England is a homosexual vacation and the Bennet sisters are a group of five male buddies.
Noah, the fiery leader known as Booster, is committed to providing an unforgettable summer experience for his special family (aka the headstrong Elizabeth Bennet). Howie (Yang), who represents Jane Bennet, is a hopeless romantic and an outcast.
Rogers plays the part of Luke, a stand-in for the bratty Lydia, which was written for him by Booster. “A lot of our followers were like, ‘Oh, of course, Matt’s Lydia, he is the only Lydia,'” he recalls, rolling his eyes dramatically. Since it’s not exactly fun. She’s a bit of a guzzler now.”
During a vacation at a seaside resort, Yang and Booster came up with the concept for Fire Island while Booster read Pride and Prejudice (“Kudos to him that he packed a book,” jokes Rogers). There were certain similarities that Booster initially described in an article for Penguin.
He noted that while Austen was depicting the lives of five middle-class sisters in Regency England, “she was also writing about my experience as a gay guy in the 21st century.”
The pilot episode of Booster was commissioned as a series for the short-form video platform Quibi but was scrapped when Quibi went bankrupt half a year later. Hulu picked it up, so it’s one of the few shows from Quibi’s weird repertoire that will go on after the company shut down. Peacefully, but I think we avoided a tremendous disaster there,” Rogers adds.
The idea was expanded to a feature-length film, where it could better demonstrate the potential of a gay rom-com. There are subtle dialogues about gentrification and prejudice among the LGBT community through sex jokes, Grindr hook-ups, and partying (in one scene, Rogers’s Luke violently vomits in a vase).
“In our community, money isn’t the only kind of currency,” Noah says in the film’s opening minutes. We’d judge people’s worth based on superficial characteristics like their race, masculinity, or even their abs. Even though he’s physically fit, he still feels like no one notices him since he’s an Asian man.
It’s a “clear caste system that comes with having a lot of money, having a terrific body, and being white,” as Rogers puts it. It’s impossible to avoid in a confined space like Fire Island. There, it’s easy to see how Austen was influencing this. The urge to improve one’s social standing and the need to feel wanted are universal desires.
‘Something that is equally ageless is being colonized in terms of your aspirations and being told your entire life: this is what you should want and this is what you should value,’ he continues.
This film needed to incorporate these subtle aspects of LGBT culture. Rogers says, “There are still a lot of people out there who think ‘gay person,’ and they picture a very certain image in their head, and it’s an archaic, whitewashed vision of what a homosexual person is.” “Our community is not at all homogeneous; rather, it is large and diversified in many ways.”
Making this video with a predominantly LGBTQ+ cast and the crew was deeply moving for everyone involved. Because of Yang’s and Rogers’ respective relocations to the West Coast, their in-person time together has diminished. The two still manage to record Las Culturistas every week, although virtually (or readers, as their subscribers are called).
The show, known by its nickname, “Las Cultch,” has its own lingo built right in. For example, statements like “movie magic are HUGE in Hollywood” and “there should be no straight art” have become widely accepted as “laws of culture” and are routinely repeated by everyone.
Last month, in honor of their 300th episode, the duo dropped a three-part, six-hour special ranking the 300 most significant songs from “the vast world songbook.” It’s only fair that Demi Lovato’s “Cool for the Summer” is the most popular song this summer.
Despite its lighthearted tone and Real Housewives-style gossip, Las Culturistas is a touching and heartfelt film. The podcast’s inception may be traced back to 2016, a time before the election of Donald Trump and the onset of global pandemics.
Listeners “have been with me through breakups, they’ve been with me through career disappointments,” he says. Those people have seen Bowen get Saturday Night Live and become internationally renowned alongside him. and they’ve been there for us at every turning point in our friendship.
The recording has become more “touch and go” as the two’s schedules fill up. Rogers guarantees that the finale of the show will be a “really annoying” occasion if it ever happens. It’s like, “You know when some celebs say they’re pregnant, and then it feels like they’ve been pregnant for a million years?” he asks. We’ll wrap up the program in the same way.
At the end of each Las Culturistas episode comes a piece called “I Don’t Think So, Honey,” in which the hosts’ rant for a full minute about whatever aspect of popular culture that has been getting under their skin. You can compare it to Just A Minute, but this one has way more attitude.
With only a few minutes left, I turn to Rogers and ask him who he thinks Luke would be in Fire Island’s “I Don’t Think So Honey.” His expression lights up with a smile. ‘Oh my god, that is so funny,’ he exclaims.
“Because Noah receives all the attention, I imagine his version of ‘I Don’t Think So, Honey’ would be ‘I Don’t Think So, Honey, Noah.'” I suppose Luke’s desire to be “the wanted one” has clouded his judgment. So, timeless, though obviously, Austen didn’t have to deal with Tinder. Fortunately, she is one of the lucky ones.