PETER TROMP spoke to DAVID KAU about his new show ‘Here To Make You Laugh’, the comedian’s first ever solo show in Cape Town, which will show at the Artscape Theatre on March 7 and 8, as well as the journey he has travelled in the comedy industry and his forays into acting.
I read a quote of yours where you said, “I’d never had experience in stand-up comedy. The first comedy show I ever saw was the first one I was in.” Yet you are still are. What do you attribute your ongoing success to?
It’s simple, really. The more you do it, the better you’re going to become. You have to be really s–t at something to keep getting worse at it. It’s just like any other job, where you improve with time. Of course you have to keep working at it. I write a lot. I change my material quite often, so it’s easy for me to keep going. I’m not afraid of the same audience seeing me again in a few months, because during that time my material will have changed already. The only time I will repeat a joke is when I’ve managed to improve on it substantially. A lot of comedians are lazy, that’s why they won’t be able to sustain a TV show, for instance.
You sound a bit like a workaholic. Would that be an accurate statement?
I think I might be a bit of a workaholic, but I was enjoying what I was doing before I started making money from it. When I was growing up I enjoyed making people laugh; it wasn’t a job at all for me then. It’s never felt like a job, really. It’s never been like, “Eish, here we go again”. It’s more like I can’t wait to get in front of an audience again.
Can you still remember your first time on stage?
Of course I do. I was performing to six people in a 200 seater upstairs at the Smirnoff Comedy Festival. They were letting people in for free from the main show.
Tell us about the new show ‘Here To Make You Laugh’. What can Capetonians look forward to with the show?
I haven’t performed in Cape Town in any major capacity since ‘Blacks Only’, my ensemble show, in 2010 and I haven’t done a solo show here yet, so I can almost include everything I’ve done in the past three or so years since the last time. You could consider it a best of me of the last three years or so, but once I’m on stage, anything can change. I’m always writing, as I’ve said, so whatever comes up in the next week might make it into the show. Lindiwe Mazibuko could become a sixth wife, so you have to stay on top of developments like that. I used to have a lot of Oscar Pistorius stuff in my show before the murder, but now I might take that out, because it might be an uncomfortable topic. Also, I have two kids now. My life has changed a lot and that’s reflected in my show.
How would you describe your brand of comedy?
I’ve never tried to describe it. It is what it is. I try and have as many people understand what I’m trying to express, and I guess my first audience in my head is South African. I don’t perform for any one group.
Are there any particular comedians, both locally and internationally, that you look up to?
I’ve always admired Riaad Moose, Kagiso Lediga; guys like that. They’ve got these gags that almost make me wish that I had come up with them. You can tell Riaad is a fully qualified doctor, because his comedy is so clinical; there’s nothing you can add, or do differently.
I’m also enjoying some of the new comics coming through, and I even try and put some of them in my shows. I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and it got a bit boring at one stage, so it’s exciting to see new comics. They definitely keep you on your toes and almost force you to keep things fresh.
Where do you draw the line in comedy?
I’ve never joked about rape. Also, when I make fun of you, I want you to laugh. I want you to be right there in the room and laugh as well.
You finished a Speech And Drama degree at UCT. How seriously were you contemplating acting as a career path?
It was always my plan to become an actor. The comedy thing only really came together during my third year. To graduate you have to write your own shows, and whatever I wrote turned out funny. Sam Hendrickse, the organiser of the Smirnoff Comedy Festival, attended my final year play and he approached me to be part of the Festival afterwards. Before you knew it I was up there, and I still am.
Have you ever contemplated trying to make a go of it as an actor?
Nah. Acting is not more attractive than what I’m doing at the moment. With stand-up, it’s easy to become used to it. You earn more and you get an immediate reaction from the audience. I didn’t stop liking acting, but stand-up is where I feel comfortable. Even with the acting I’ve done, I improvise. I hate rehearsals and makeup. You have to be someone I really admire for me to feel comfortable with you directing me. But yah, once upon a time the idea was to graduate varsity and maybe become an actor on ‘Generations’.
Do you have any acting projects in the pipeline?
I’m starring in ‘Blitspatrollie’, which was written and produced by Kagiso Lediga and stars Joey Rasdien and Chris Forrest. It will be coming out in May and it should be the biggest film in SA this year, otherwise I don’t get paid.
* Tickets are R120 and R150 and are available from Computicket.