Saturday 15 August 2009

Comic timing

A few weeks ago I went to see Dr. Riaad Moosa on stage at the Civic Theatre in Braamfontein. The place was packed (in fact, I was told he was sold out the day the ticket selling opened, which was 3 weeks before the event). I have followed Riaad on his journey since meeting him over 7 years ago. I was amazed at his growth and his grace. The audience loved it and I think a real South African star is in the making. Perhaps our first international comedy star - I really think he could play to an international audience and they would love him!

I have invested a lot of time learning about comedians and about comedy in general. John Vlismas taught me a lot, and so have people like Riaad. I learnt that comedians are the best sales people; they got to close a deal every 15 seconds!

But here is the thing that always fascinated me the most (and something the audience is not conscious of); a comedian needs to listen just as much as they speak. They need to be listening to their audience, changing direction without anyone noticing - it is all part of the magic. If one story isn't working then they need to carefully and skillfully change direction before anyone realizes what has happened - talk about grace under pressure.

One last thing about comedy. Comedians are not naturally funny. No one is naturally funny. Yes, comedians must have a sharp sense of humour, but it is all about practice and discipline. Just like a great runner is not naturally an athlete - yes, they must be born with a talent and a passion for running, but winning the race is all about practice and discipline.

And with that, I am getting back to work.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker