Zany times three, at Hex

2013-10-08 00:00

IF you missed seeing Aaron McIlroy, John van de Ruit and Ben Voss in The Rise of … The Insanity Leagu e at The Witness Hilton Arts Festival last month, don’t fret.

The three men are bringing their latest comedic experience to The Hexagon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg from October 16 to October 19.

Directed by Greig Coetzee (White Men With Weapons, Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny), The Rise of … The Insanity League is a sketch comedy show that features the talents of McIlroy, Voss and Van de Ruit.

When I caught the show at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban earlier this year, the on-stage antics remined me irresistibly of the Monty Python team. There was even a nod to Terry Gilliam’s eccentric animations on the television screens above the stage.

Individually, McIlroy, Voss and Van de Ruit have produced intelligent, witty and downright hilarious shows, ranging from McIlroy’s DOF, The Golfer and The Loser, through to Voss’s productions starring his BEE alter ego, Beauty Ramapelepele, and the Black Mamba and Green Mamba shows he and Spud author Van de Ruit, are famous for.

In The Rise .... of the Insanity League, the three actors kick off proceedings by sharing a history of the league’s founding and its development from humankind’s creation, through Noah’s flood to the era of the Romans, the Greeks, the battle of Hastings in 1066 where the “battle lines between the sane and insane were drawn”, and the news that the great fire of London was caused by league members when they discarded their cigars out a window.

But, as far as McIlroy, Voss and Van de Ruit are concerned, the true spiritual home of the league is right here in South Africa — and they set out to demonstrate it in a series of sketches delivered at breathtaking speed.

Sketches range from Voss delivering a rap sequence to McIlroy appearing on stage in a wheelie bin and using a scanner to identify “Normans” — mortal enemies of the league — in the audience, and the three men playing a typical man and his left and right brains, and what effect the latter can have on his actions on a night out.

There is also a fabulous skit with Voss playing ancient Insanity League member, Sybil Solomons, who is 116 years old and has cheated death thousands of times.

Wearing pyjamas and pushing a wheeled walker and drip along, she reveals that she only recently gave up sex when her “plumbing collapsed”, and that her key to life is to “embrace your insanity”. Using simple physical comedy and clever timing, this skit is hilarious. Other highlights include the TV chat shows, one of which features a brilliant impersonation of DA leader Helen Zille, by McIlroy. Two others worth mentioning are the invention of the telephone, also featuring McIlroy, in which an inventor — who is being plagued by his wife — wonders if having a phone is actually a good idea, and a skit about the Insanity Police, during which all three men perform a song titled SAPS, to the tune of YMCA, complete with actions. It’s quite simply one of the zaniest shows you’ll see this year. Tickets are R120 (R90 for students and pensioners) at Computicket.


• Ben Voss, who is best known for dressing up in woman’s clothing. Having been schooled at a majority black, co-ed school, it was a logical progression to becoming a black woman — Beauty Ramapelepele.

He has pedigree in sketch comedy too. Together with John van de Ruit, he co-developed Green and Black Mamba, which played to well over 29 people nationwide. However, he’s convinced that true glory lies ahead, having been offered lifetime membership into the Insanity League for single-handedly using a Mr Price Home cheese grater to reduce Shakespeare’s Complete Works to fine print and reassembling it over a period of four gruelling years. Follow him @benvoss73

• John van de Ruit rose to prominence with the satirical Green and Black Mamba sketch theatre shows. Along with co-creator Ben Voss, he developed an eager following in large villages and small towns country wide.

Van de Ruit became better known in smaller cities and larger hamlets after his Spud series proved that there were far more bored, literate people roaming the country than was ever thought possible.

The Spud books have been turned into a film franchise starring Troye Sivan and John Cleese. Van de Ruit wrote the screenplay for the third film, Learning to Fly, which was filmed in Cape Town in June and July, and is expected to be released in 2014.

However, these achievements meant nothing, and it was only when he publicly opened and devoured a tin of tomato and onion mix without using his hands that he was momentously offered lifetime Insanity League membership.

Follow him @johnvanderuit

• Aaron McIlroy has probably been Durban’s most popular comedian over the last 24 hours having made his family laugh at a large Irish gathering yesterday. Apart from playing Spud’s lunatic father in the films, he’s also the man who’s stage shows (Dof, The Golfer, The Loser, @work, Abbamaniacs) are responsible for beheading front rows with manic punch lines since 1463.

However, he is best known for his change in hairstyle. Having been a full ginger, he is now cross-skinhead. In fact, he is a very cross skinhead. Furious. So keep a safe distance.

He too has obtained lifetime Insanity League membership for recording the call of a hadeda and playing it at high volume in a loop while sleeping standing up.

Follow him @aaronmcilroy

• Keep in touch on Facebook at TheInsanit

yLeague or on Twitter @InsanityLeague

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