A Gap Year with Gap Yah?
Last year comedian Matt Lacey’s alter ego, the ridiculously annoying but hilariously funny ‘Orlando’, became an Internet sensation. His ‘Gap Yah’ parody went viral within weeks and to date has more than 4 million hits on You Tube. Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation caught up with Matt to talk gap years, Gap Yah and what’s next for Orlando.
Where did the idea for Orlando come from Matt?
I was at uni in Oxford, I was in a queue waiting to go into a club and there was a gaggle of Jack Wills clad toffs behind me.
One of them screams ‘Tarquin has chundered!’ I found it very funny and everything spiraled from there.
You did a gap year yourself, how much did this inspire the sketch?
I visited so many different places during my own gap year, I went to Peru with friends from school, I went to Ireland and worked in a Chinese takeaway, I went to Tanzania on my own and when I climbed Kilimanjaro I made a load of new friends. I tried to include as many of these experiences as possible in the parody, everything was relevant in some way!
Do you think the character of Orlando has helped to break some of the misconceptions associated with gap year takers?
Definitely. While I was using comedy to take the piss out of the stereotypical ‘Gap Yah’ travellers, the rest of the world, young adults from all different backgrounds were going off travelling. The overwhelming response was ‘we’re not all like this!’ which I was of course delighted by!
Has anyone ever suggested that Gap Yah might put young people off gap year travels?
Yes. Some ridiculous travel company put out a press release a little while ago blaming Orlando, Gap Yah and essentially me for the drop in the number of people taking gap years and travelling in general. My simple response to this is that university tuition fees have tripled and for lots of people it costs over £6k per year to study. Young people simply can’t afford a gap year anymore!
Do you recommend taking a gap year?
Absolutely. Travelling as a young adult is a great idea. You get to see the world and the people you meet along the way give you a more contextualised viewpoint on life. It’s an unmissable opportunity to grow as a person, which you’ll never have again once you enter the world of work! That said, I know that many people are replacing the gap year with shorter travels and I do believe that it’s possible to pack all those gap year experiences into a smaller trip. You don’t have to be bankrolled by your parents either. My time in the Chinese takeaway in Ireland taught me that! Working to earn money to travel can be just as rewarding.
What did you learn or achieve during your own gap year that has helped you in life?
French. Learning a language is really liberating and useful. Ultimately my gap year gave me the knowledge, experience and inspiration to write a comedy sketch that went viral, which then got me a book deal. Result. Also, having taken a break from education to travel gave me a more mature outlook on life when I eventually got to university. Because I’d taken that break I was in a position to take advantage of all the opportunities that came my way, I wasn’t still finding my feet as a young adult.
At CRF we encourage gap year travellers to research their journey and their destination before they go. How much research did you do?
I’m the kind of traveller that will read the Lonely Planet cover to cover before I go anywhere. I’m really into history so I love to know everything cultural about countries before I get there. I can’t tell you how much this adds to the overall experience when you arrive. And of course, research means you’ll know about any potential dangers or trouble hot spots in advance so you can plan around them.
Did you find yourself in any hairy situations during your gap year?
No not really, probably because I’d done my research. I was pick-pocketed but I also know that this could happen in London. It’s how you react and learn from things like this that matter. Trouble when travelling is always the exception rather than the rule.
Where will you travel next Matt?
I’m planning the classic (possibly cliché) American road trip in a Cadillac with some friends in May next year. God knows that will inspire!
And what’s next for Orlando?
I’m working towards some shows at the Edinburgh festival next summer and developing new characters for my stand-up shows. I’m also promoting my book ‘The Gap Yah Plannah’ (available on Amazon!)
Big thanks to Matt Lacey and Rich Lett at www.takingthepiste.com