As they often say, “you can take the world in a good suit.” For Matt Eberhart, a.k.a. Rundle Mall’s favourite Banana Man, entertainment can come in all forms — even while dressed up as a giant walking Cavendish banana.
Hey Paolo: What’s the story behind the Banana Man?
I was working as a civilian manager in a Japanese-American military base until Dec 2017. With enough money saved up to sustain me for a year of travel, I went around the globe to busk in my yellow jumpsuit with a small amp and a concert ukulele. During a Halloween party back in 2018, I bought a banana costume for a party which I have then since used as my usual get up for all my future street shows. The Banana Man first arrived in Adelaide in 2019.
Hey Paolo: Where have you performed so far?
Before the Banana Man came about, I have already performed in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Seoul, Korea, Israel, Germany, Poland, Ireland, USA, and Australia. As the Banana Man, majority of my performances have been done in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Albury-Wodonga, Brisbane Cairns, Perth, and Adelaide) and the USA (Las Vegas, LA, San Diego, Honolulu, Austin, San Antonio, Jacksonville, FL, Saint Louis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Washington DC, and New York City).
Hey Paolo: What are the most memorable stories you’ve had as a performer?
During the beginning of Adelaide Fringe 2020, a mentally ill man broke and pounded my ukulele on the ground and I injured my head while busking in Rundle Mall. This was the worst I have been attacked. But the upside was, a lot of people in Adelaide came out to support me. I cannot be grateful enough how Adelaide still encouraged me to keep performing after this incident.
Street performances can be dangerous: I have been punched in the nuts while in Hawaii, I have been robbed back in Sydney, and I have been thrown a bottle of alcoholic drink to my face while performing at Hindley Street.
The most positive memories I have are hearing the stories of people who remember seeing me in a completely different city or country.
While busking in Hawaii, I was performing the song “Fire on the Horizion” by the band Stick Figure when the actual creator of the song walked past by. It was awesome to meet him in person.
Hey Paolo: Who is the Banana Man when he is not wearing his costume?
When the Banana Man is not performing, I do a lot of traveling. I feel most free when I am on the road bringing with me all of my worldly possessions. I was born in Germany and was raised in Japan by American parents. I am conversationally fluent in Japanese and I love to socialise with friends at a bar or in a club. I have a strong desire learn something new from people of different races, backgrounds, and creeds.
Hey Paolo: What are your upcoming gigs?
For Adelaide Fringe, I have two different shows.
“Around the World with Mozart the Banana Man” aims to educate and inspire children four to 10 year olds about four different countries: Indonesia, India, China, and Ethiopia. My partner, Rich Jay, and I created this show to inform and entertain Australian kids about geography, population, language, and culture with music and dancing as a medium.
“Musical Improv: The Immature Amateurs Troupe,” on the other hand, is a group of five artists and one multi-instrumentalist who will perform an improvised musical based on audience suggestions. No show will ever be the same; any audience member can suggest a song title and we will perform it.
To catch the Banana Man’s show, visit:
“Around the World with Mozart the Banana Man”: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/around-the-world-with-mozart-the-banana-man-af2021
“Musical Improv: The Immature Amateurs Troupe”: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/musical-improv-the-immature-amateurs-af2021