PETER TROMP had a little chitchat with funny man MARK BANKS, who is back in Cape Town with his latest show ‘Banksrupt!’, showing at the Baxter Theatre from Wednesday July 31 until Saturday August 10.
When did it first become apparent to you that you could make people laugh, and how soon after that did you realise you could actually turn your talent into a career?
I say this modestly, but i think from birth. I can never remember a moment in my life where I wasn’t doing something “stupid”. If you can do that and get paid for it… I keep meaning to try and find a job, but I need new glasses to read the classifieds.
As someone who has been in any untold number of ensemble comedy shows and one man productions over the years, what stands out as some of your favourites?
That would have to be the Royal Albert Hall with Bafunny Bafunny two years ago. You can’t top that really.
Tell us about ‘Banksrupt’. What can we Capetonians look forward to with the show?
I will be looking at current issues. Patricia; Helen; beached whales; the weather – all items that are making the news in a good or bad way. Tourism; car guards; restaurants; drivers; diver… the lot.
What’s special about performing in our neck of the woods?
Cape Town audiences love comedy. I think Cape Town gets more comedy than any other city in the world through its theatres. I started here, grew up here and will probably be scattered here. So the city and the people are very near and dear to me. We are the people!
What are some of your favourite haunts when you find yourself in Cape Town?
Maharajah Indian Curry Temple (corner Kloof Nek and Woodside Road, Tamboerskloof), San Marco ice-cream (at the V&A Waterfront), Mouille Point Putt-Putt, the Gardens Centre and World of Birds lost property counter.
Have you had a gatsby in your life and if so, what do you make of this particular (and peculiar) Capetonian delicacy?
I’ve had many Gatsbys in my life. It is a Cape Town original. Nowhere else in the world does it have the same taste if it isn’t made in Lower Main Road. I think it’s got something to do with early morning Table Bay fog and car exhaust fumes.
What is Mark Banks like to hang out with when he’s not in “performance mode”?
Truly very boring. A lot of people who don’t know what I do think I work in the Koeberg Nuclear power plant publicity department for special events.
Is there ever a time to be serious for a comedian?
I think when on stage, or when evacuating from a low flying helicopter in a force eight storm over Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.
What do you contemplate whenever you’re alone at night, illuminated by candlelight, no doubt?
The Meaning of Laugh.
Any pet peeves?
People who drive slowly in the fast lane. People who show you things on their phones. Dentists with very hairy noses. People who tell you how to braai at a braai. Stupid tourists. Estate agents that stalk you on the phone. People who don’t return calls. Paying for plastic carrier bags. Meteorites. Pencil sharpeners we had in school with the wind handle. Blue Stilton cheese. Soggy sandwiches. People who say “when I was your age.” Enamel paint. Fountains that don’t work. Cat burglars. Very fat pug dogs. These are just a few. I hope to enlarge in our next interview.
What makes you laugh on a daily basis? What is your ever-reliable, go-to laugh?
People. People’s names. Estate agent ads in newspapers.
Who are your comedy heroes?
Buffoons in power. Tommy Cooper (the British prop comedian and magician).
How universal do you think South African comedy is?
Completely universal. People in Vancouver will know what Lower Main Road Gatsby special means. Don’t forget, most South Africans live in the world and they have taken their “humour” with them. I heard Wynberg being screamed in Istanbul by a mini-bus taxi driver once.
Complete the following: Favourite movie; book; music album; song; midnight snack; holiday destination; lunch spot.
Movie: ‘Marathon Man’ with Dustin Hoffman.
Book: 101 uses for a lost Dutch Tourist.
Music album: Songs for amputation, or music to have it off by.
Song – On the ‘Sunny Side of the Street’ by The Benny Goodman Sextet.
Midnight snack: Avocado pear and Marmite toast with soft boiled egg while waiting for the chops to grill.
Holiday destination: New York City.
Lunch spot: Rhodes Memorial Restaurant under new management of Jessica and Bernard.
* Catch ‘Banksrupt!’ from Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8.30pm.
Tickets are R100 through Computicket.