Turning 40 on his side

2009-09-25 13:07

Marc Lottering might have come on the scene first, but is often considered the poor cousin of stand-up comedy in South Africa. With the likes of Trevor Noah, David Kau and Eugene Khoza firmly placed on the comedic map, one would be inclined to forget the man with the larger-than-life hair.

Lottering, however, is a resounding success, not just here but in countries across the world, something comedians in South Africa are still struggling to achieve.

He turned 40 in December but made noise about it only now. Instead of freaking out about the big 4-0 he is rather melancholic and accepting of his age. Lottering says: “I wish I could say that I don’t feel any different (from my previous birthdays) but that would be a big fat lie. I feel wiser, for example, I think ahead these days and I no longer party like there’s no tomorrow.”

Speaking of parties, if you’ve attended a Lottering show you will know it’s a big bash. There’s music, costume changes, snacks, drinks, dancing and laughing. Lots of laughing.

The Cape Town-based comedian has just completed his show The Naughty Forties at the Market Theatre. The main agenda of the show is, of course, as the title suggests about him turning 40. The show is based on the issues he has been facing since his birthday last December and includes body issues, the dating scene and his big hair. Attending the show made me realise just how massively appealing the comedian really is and it only cements my theory that he is no poor relation. All colours and creeds attended and somehow Lottering managed to get everyone in hysterics.

He opened his show with his veteran alter-ego Aunty Merle much to the crowds’ roaring enthusiasm. Lottering describes one of his best-loved characters as “a 53-year-old Cape Malay woman who has been 53 for three years”.

Lottering says: “I’ve realised that 40 sounds a heck of a lot older than 30. Especially when you say it in company. Although I don’t mind saying I’m 40 though because I think I look a lot younger than many 20-year-old tik addicts.” It is exactly this dry, straight-to-the-point humour that has made him a success.

Lottering began his career in Cape Town and attributes his successful brand of comedy to his colourful childhood: “My upbringing in the Cape Flats most certainly had a huge impact upon my comedy, particularly during my first four years as a comedian. I mean much of my material back then was centred on being ­coloured.”

Now Lottering’s comedy spans the world and includes jokes about ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, US president Barack Obama, and the expats living abroad.

“My comedy’s changed now, I am more influenced by my experience as a South African.”

Lottering was 28 when he scripted his first show, After the Beep, in 1997. It was a time when stand-up comedy was taking off – he is one of the founding fathers of modern comedy in South Africa. He went on to produce and script several shows including The Fourth Wise Man, From The Cape Flats With Love and Three Wise Men, which have all sold well on DVD.

Lottering admits that he’s always had a penchant for seeing the funny side of life: “I’ve always preferred to see the hilarious sides of situations and it’s precisely that side of life that has brought me to where I am.”

While Lottering has always been proud of his heritage and Cape Coloured roots, his ingenious comedy transcends race, colour and generation proving that there are no longer differences in how audiences in different parts of the world receive him.

“The differences are no longer glaring. I do believe it’s because the writing has changed over the years.” He now writes for a broader audience: “I would like to think that audiences around the world respond to my material in the same way.” Lottering does however admit to favouring his Cape Town audiences: “I cannot resist throwing in a few distinctly Cape Town phrases in the Mother City.”

The comedian is already working on his next project with fellow funnyman Riaad Moosa and Nik Rabinowitz – the sequel to Three Wise Men, which is directed by David Kramer. The show will be on at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town from November 18.

Through Lottering’s outstanding comedic career, which includes 14 one-man stand-up shows, he admits that it’s difficult to pinpoint a favourite moment. He treats each show and every audience equally, it would seem. “There’s no single moment that stands out for me. I’m continually blown away by the sound of thunderous applause when it happens. And I constantly pray that will happen more often than not.”

Already a shining comedy star here and with a burgeoning career internationally there’s really no need to worry about that.

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