Max, de heldige hond by Hugo Matthysen
'Mad the Heldige Hond', Humo #3784, 12 March 2013. 

Hugo Matthysen is a Belgian writer, columnist, singer-songwriter and comedic actor. A versatile artist, he has been active in many different media. He was a scriptwriter for children's series like 'Carlos & Co' (1987-1988), 'Dag Sinterklaas' (1993) and 'Kulderzipken' (1995-1996). Together with Bart Peeters and Marcel Vanthilt, he wrote, starred and performed in the cult teenage TV shows 'PVBA Elektron' (1983-1984) and 'Villa Tempo' (1984-1987). His absurd and silly comedy found its way in several musical comedy projects, including Hugo Matthysen en de Bomen, de Clement Peerens Explosition and Hormonia. Matthysen often collaborates with Bart Peeters, with whom he made the improvisational comedy radio show 'Het Leugenpaleis' (1988-2000) and its TV spin-off 'Het Peulengaleis' (1999-2002). Both achieved cult status. He is additionally a weekly columnist for Humo. In the same magazine he occasionally wrote and drew gag comics like 'Boerken Kevin' (1989-1994) and 'Max, de Heldige Hond' (2013). Matthysen sometimes signs his work with his initials 'hm'. 

'Max, de Heldige Hond', Humo #3779, 5 February 2013. 

Early life and career
Hugo Matthysen was born in 1956 in Ekeren, in the province Antwerp. He has always been a bibliophile and ranks Daan Zonderland, Drs. P, Herman Brusselmans, René Descartes, Willem Elsschot and Edgar Allan Poe among his favorite authors. His favorite comic artist is Marc Sleen ('The Adventures of Nero'), of whom he admires the zaniness and odd characters. In fact, when journalist Joris Vergeyle asked Matthysen in 2019 to name the five books that changed his life, Matthysen cited the 'Nero' debut album 'Het Geheim van Matsuoka' as his fifth choice. 

Matthysen studied philosophy at the University of Antwerp and in Leuven (Louvain). In 1978 he and fellow students Jan Leyers (son of cartoonist Hugo Leyers) and Bart Peeters established the cover band Beri Beri. They often performed during balls. Matthysen and Peeters remained lifelong friends and creative spirits. Through Peeters' media career as TV presenter from the early 1980s on, Matthysen was able to make himself noticed as actor, comedy writer and musician. 

As a humorist, Matthysen's comedy often follows stream-of-consciousness silly ideas. His characters tend to be pseudo-intellectuals, poets, philosophers or fictionalized versions of celebrities. They usually come up with surreal theories. Many speak in Antwerp dialect, which adds to their ludicrousness. In his columns, Matthysen's characters often find themselves in increasingly absurd situations. Since Matthysen holds a degree in philosophy and often expresses contrarian, snobbish opinions in interviews, audiences have sometimes wondered whether he's being ironic, or unaware that he sometimes comes across as one of his comedy characters. Interviewed by Jan van Holderbeke for the website of public media channel VRT (1 October 2017), Matthysen said he once was invited by a psychologist to meet him at a mental institution. He had analyzed Matthysen's work and felt the zaniness shared an interesting similarity to the mindset of people who suffer from psychosis. Matthysen added that much of his narrative style features characters who are either paranoid or start to doubt their own vision of reality. While this is indeed comparable to psychosis, he evokes these mental disturbances self-consciously. 

Television and radio career
In the early 1980s Bart Peeters hosted the humorous educational teenage TV shows 'Elektron' (1983-1984) and 'Villa Tempo' (1984-1987) on the public TV channel BRT. Both gained a cult status, especially because of the sketch intermezzos, written by Matthysen. In the most well-known segment, he, Peeters and Marcel Vanthilt played a triplet called 'De Hermannen' ("The Hermans"). They all shared the same first name, but looked like German schlager singer Heino, complete with sunglasses and blonde wigs. The show also spawned a spin-off band, The Yéh-Yéhs.

Later that decade, Matthysen and Peeters were given their own comedy radio show, 'Het Leugenpaleis' (1988-1998), broadcast on Studio Brussel. They basically acted silly, while interviewing fictional characters played by themselves. Matthysen took the role of pop expert Clement Peerens, housewife Magda van Damme, doctor De Reiger, the gnome with lots of pubic hair Jefke De Lathouwer and the mounted deer head Kim De Hert. Since much of the show was improvised, they often couldn't hold their laughter. This unprofessional atmosphere polarized listeners, including the radio channel's executives who wanted to cancel the show. But at the same time, it gained a cult audience and was therefore allowed to stay. The most memorable broadcasts of 'Het Leugenpaleis' have been compiled on the CD's, 'Het Leugenpaleis', (1993), 'Het Ergste Uit Het Leugenpaleis' (2005) and 'Het Lachendste Uit Het Leugenpaleis' (2006). The latter two records have an album cover designed by Jeroom.

In 1995 Peeters and Matthysen made a first attempt to give 'Het Leugenpaleis' a TV spin-off, 'De (V)liegende Doos', broadcast as a big budget spectacle show on commercial channel VTM. The program unfortunately didn't reach the right audience and was mostly enjoyed by people who were already fans of the original radio show. Four years later, a more small-scaled spin-off came about, 'Het Peulengaleis' (1999-2005), broadcast on the public TV channel Canvas. The title was a nonsensical anagram of the original radio show's title. Following the same improvisational style, many sketches were done in one take, without cutting out the actors' giggling. Apart from visualizing recurring characters from 'Het Leugenpaleis', 'Het Peulengaleis' also introduced new silly personalities. Matthysen, for instance, played keyboardist Eugène, falsetto-voiced "woman" Yvette, a nameless stereotypical gay man who wants to buy hammers and saws in the hardware store 'Gamma' and Petrik, who searches for his contact lenses in Germany. In 2020, Matthysen and Peeters returned to the radio waves with another improvisational comedy show starring more or less the same characters as 'Het Leugenpaleis', but with a different title, 'De Itegemse Coronakroniek', airing on Radio 1. Matthysen also scripted other comedy shows for adults, where he didn't appear in front of the camera. Broadcast on Canvas, he made the New Year's Eve party spoof, 'Nefast voor de Feestvreugde' (2000-2002) and the talk show parody 'Anneliezen' (2010). 

Matthysen additionally scripted various children's shows. Stylistically, they followed more straightforward narratives, but still with wacky characters. He also wrote and composed the theme music, instrumental intermezzos and incidental songs. His first project was the puppet show 'Carlos & Co' (1987-1988), co-written by Karel Vereertbrugghen and Paul Pourveur. In 1992 he wrote 'Dag Sinterklaas' (1992-1993), a show where Bart Peeters stays over at the castle of holiday character Sinterklaas (played by Jan Decleir) and asks him questions. Matthysen's interpretation of Sinterklaas was so appreciated that he also helped to script the annual arrival of Sinterklaas in the harbour of Antwerp. In The Netherlands, this had been a tradition for decades, broadcast on public television, but in Flanders this concept only came about in the wake of 'Dag Sinterklaas'. The stories of 'Dag Sinterklaas' have also been adapted into children's books, with illustrations by Jan Bosschaert, while Matthysen additionally penned down scripts for three Sinterklaas movies, 'Ay Ramon!' (2015), 'Sinterklaas en de Wakkere Nachten' (2018) and 'Sinterklaas en Koning Kabberdas' (2021). Reruns of 'Dag Sinterklaas' were broadcast annually until 2018, when the original footage was slightly updated for modern-day viewers. New footage was also shot, but still according to Matthysen's scripts. Matthysen's final children's show was the absurd science fiction series 'Zingaburia' (2011-2014), broadcast on Ketnet. 

Left: 'Sabrina' (1990) musical single by Hugo Matthysen, featuring his artwork on the cover. Right: 1993 album compilation of 'Het Leugenpaleis', depicting Matthysen and Bart Peeters on the cover. 

Musical career
Matthysen is a prolific songwriter and composer. He wrote music for several radio and TV series he was attached too, but also had his own musical projects. He was the lead singer, lyricist and guitarist of the comedy band, Hugo Matthysen en De Bomen ("Hugo Matthysen and The Trees"). Jean Blaute performed keyboards, Evert Verhees and Marc Kruithof played bass, while Walter Mets and Stoy Stoffelen performed drums. In 1990 Hugo Matthysen en De Bomen scored a minor hit with 'Blankenberge' (1990). The group also performed songs in the absurd sketch shows 'Johnnywood' (1988) and 'Lava' (1989-1990), written by and starring Kamagurka and Herr Seele. Matthysen additionally illustrated the cover of his single 'Sabrina' (1990) and his album 'Red Onze Planeet' (1991). He also wrote songs for the girls' band parody Hormonia and helped out his colleagues of the band De Nieuwe Snaar with additional funny lyrics. 

Matthysen's most succesful and longest-running band was The Clement Peerens Explosition. In his comedy radio show 'Het Leugenpaleis' (1988-1998), he had created a macho character, Clement Peerens, who talked in Antwerp slang. Peerens fancied himself a "rock expert" and this eventually resulted in his own band, The Clement Peerens Explosition, often shortened to CPEX. Inspired by Spinal Tap, CPEX parodies hard rock bands. Matthysen played Peerens, while bass player Robert Mosuse and drummer Bart Peeters both played similar macho musicians. In 2008 Peeters was replaced by Aram van Ballaert, due to Peeters' tinnitus problems. Although CPEX was intended as a joke, they were a popular live act. Their heavy sound was actually perfect to headbang to. They scored several hits, such as 'Dikke Lu' (1994), 'Foorwijf' (1994), 'Vinde Gij Mijn Gat Niet Te Dik In Deze Rok?' (1998) and 'Geft Da Kaske Na Is Hier!' (2008). The band's final album, 'Olraait!' (2020), had a cover designed by Jeroom. In 2022, the Clement Peerens Explosition disbanded. 

Books, plays and columns
Matthysen has published several books and wrote a few plays, some directly based on his TV shows. He is a columnist for Humo since the 1980s. He mostly writes absurd short stories. Among his recurring characters are romantic poet Joe Roxy, the brave knight Ivanhoe and contrarian physician Dr. De Zeulder. Matthysen has also written occasional gags for Humo's satirical news column 'Het Gat van de Wereld', made by Jeroom. Matthysen read some of his personal columns during broadcasts of the educational radio show 'De Groote Magazijnen' (1988-1989) on Radio 2. In 2007 he wrote a contribution to 'Er Was Geenszins' (Oogachtend, 2007), an absurd fairy tale book aimed at an adult audience, for which Kim Duchateau provided illustrations. 

'Boerken Kevin'. Translation: "When the farmer washes the fields, his brain has been tarnished." - "He who feeds his child gasoline, shouldn't smoke when it belches." - "If a cow goes to Rome, it quickly finds barb wire on its path." 

Boerke Kevin
Lesser known is that Matthysen has also drawn comic strips on a couple of occasions. In the late 1980s he produced weekly musical contributions to Herr Seele and Kamagurka's absurd TV sketch show 'Lava' (1989-1990). The show inspired several comic books and the fourth volume (1990) featured cartoons by Matthysen. In 1989 and 1994 Matthysen made a series of one-panel gag cartoons about 'Boerken Kevin', published in Humo. Kevin is a farmer who enjoys spouting absurd proverbs, typically set to rhyme. The name 'Kevin' is a running gag in Matthysen's work. Several other characters share the same name. 

Het Alfabet der Liefde
In 1997 the magazine Humo featured 'Het Alfabet der Liefde', a series of 26 short humorous poems about women, arranged alphabetically according to their first name. The poems were illustrated by Tom Schamp and written by "poet Joe Roxy from Limburg". Everybody familiar with Matthysen's radio show 'Het Leugenpaleis' instantly knew that he had written this series, since Roxy was a character from this show. 

Max, de Heldige Hond
Between 29 January and 16 April 2013, Matthysen drew a short-lived absurd gag comic, 'Max, de Heldige Hond' (2013) for the magazine Humo. The gags revolve around the heroic adventures of a blue dog who constantly likes to take a shit. The mutt always comes across some bizarre problem to which he finds the perfect solution. The feature was printed on the penultimate page of each issue.

Max de Heldige Hond by Hugo Matthysen
'Max, De Heldige Hond', Humo #3780. 12 January 2013. 

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