Keeping a cocked eyebrow on the nation’s affairs

Keeping a cocked eyebrow on the nation’s affairs

PETER TROMP spoke to Master satirist PIETER DIRK-UYS about his new show ‘Adapt or Fly’, running at the Baxter Theatre from June 11 to 30, Tannie Evita’s latest doings (specifically her joining the ANC), who would win in a koeksister bake-off between himself and the Tannie, and of course the “Spear” debacle.

Tell us about ‘Adapt or Fly’. What can audiences look forward to with the show?
I use my cracked mirror of satire to reflect our cracked democratic society, wracked with anger, frustration, drama, problems and yet also huge relief that some areas are working relatively well. A careful balance of 49% anger and 51% entertainment. Now more than ever we need to laugh at our fear

‘Adapt Or Fly’ comes 30 years after ‘Adapt or Dye’. As a keen eyed satirist, how do you feel things have changed during that time? Are we really better off today than in the past?
Everything has changed so much that sometimes it looks the same. Apartheid will never come back under the same name, but bad politics reinvents itself and can imprison us again with fear. Bucket toilets, no schoolbooks, government corruption, squeamishness about cartooned penises all ring bells of recognition. We were there once?

It seems that all across the world governments and ruling elites have found ways to circumvent democracy. Are you concerned that history’s cyclical nature might mean a new age of authoritarian leadership is on the horizon?
SA does not follow a blueprint of democracy: it is the blueprint – and so one does not look at other countries for examples. I have a feeling that as we move towards a more confident democracy, the world will be sliding back into rightwing fascism and soon will have sanctions against us – because we are not like them!

Do you still believe in the ability of the arts to transcend the stupidity that permeates our national political and media discourses?
Art has always shown a way round the manure heap of politics. There are so many different ways to attract attention of the public and the politicians. Obvious ways, subtle ways, offensive ways – all good, if done with style – and comedy is still the greatest weapon of mass distraction

The “Spear” debacle is still fresh in people’s memories. Do you feel that the ruling party has perhaps lost their sense of humour, or was their outrage justified?
Let us not forget the nightmares that resurfaced in the memories of millions of our people when they remembered how they were treated during apartheid. I think the spear was just a portal to that darkness. A mountain out of a molehill? The joke is only the glasses were Zuma’s. The coat was Lenin’s, the apparatus came from on the internet.

As someone close to Evita Bezuidenhout, can you divulge any secrets behind her reasoning for joining the ruling party? Will she address this issue in the show?
Evita wants to be in the kraal smiling out and not outside frowning in. I think the ANC deserve her, as the National Party deserved her. Let Tannie alert us to where all the bodies are buried and how much the comrades have moved off to Swiss banks. She’s got experience of those things.

You have famously made Darling your home town. How are things going at your base of operations, Evita se Perron? And how do you feel about being the ambassador for an entire town?
Evita Se Perron is 16 years old. It is a work in progress and I am thrilled that we are on the international route. (Robben Island in the a.m., Darling in the p.m.) Each weekend we have shows and the world is flocking to see, laugh, eat and drink. Tannie is the star of the nonsense, especially with her ‘Evita Bezuidenhout Boulevard’ easily found on the GPS.
Are there any questions from pesky journalists that you have grown tired of answering over the years? (Fingers crossed I haven’t asked one of them.)
During apartheid they asked, “Are you gay?” My answer still is: yes, I am a homosexual on Monday and Wednesday. On Tuesday and Thursday I am heterosexual. On Friday I am bisexual. On Saturday I do it myself and on Sunday I rest.

I have it on pretty good authority that you make a mean koeksister. Who would win in a koeksister bake-off: you, or Tannie Evita?
I am hopeless in the kitchen. I don’t even know where it is. I must follow the cat. So Tannie will win.

How do you like to relax and be entertained when you’re not performing for others?
Love my animals. Watch plants grow. Enjoy a Bette Davis movie. Write a book. Read a book. Repack bookshelves.

What is up next for you?
A new cookbook for Tannie, ‘Evita’s Bossie Sikelela’, out from Umuzi in August. A new play ‘The Merry Wives Of Zuma’ out in November in Johannesburg and Cape Town in April 2013.

* Book now at Computicket.