From cab driver to comedian

2016-08-23 06:00
Eugene Mathews, right, seems to be going crazy as Jesse Willenberg from the Freedom Riders Motorcycle Club prepares to drive him to their clubhouse for Thursday night’s performance in Kensington. PHOTO: gary van dyk

Eugene Mathews, right, seems to be going crazy as Jesse Willenberg from the Freedom Riders Motorcycle Club prepares to drive him to their clubhouse for Thursday night’s performance in Kensington. PHOTO: gary van dyk

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It’s a short trip from being a cab driver to delivering moments of mirth as a comedian.

On Thursday 25 August local comedy man Eugene Mathews will be hosting an event at the Freedom Riders Motorcycle Club’s clubhouse in Kensington and it’s going to be a riot of fun.

“I am part of a comedy collective called Project Comedy Live,” he says.

“We are hosting this event here in Kensington so that people can experience some great comedy on their doorstep.

“I will be joined by Ambrose Uren, Justin-Ray Stoffels and Lunga Tshuka and we will be tackling growing up in our suburbs in Cape Town and the madness that is living in South Africa.”

Mathews, 33, has been doing stand-up comedy since 2010 and loves making people laugh, but it all started in a taxi.

“Back in 2010 I found myself being a cab driver, seriously unhappy with my life,” he says.

“I figured out pretty quickly that my tips were larger if I made my passengers laugh, so I worked at telling them funny stories about work and life.

“One passenger always encouraged me to give stand-up comedy a try and I thought he was insane; there’s no way I could do what the Marc Lotterings and Stuart Taylors of the world do.

“One day I dropped the passenger in Long Street and he invited me to accompany him to see the show that was happening at the then Zula Sound Bar.

“I parked the cab and went to go see a live stand-up comedy show for the first time and I was an instant fan.”

Fate then had more in store for him.

“A few weeks later I was having a conversation with radio personality Fiona Fury and moaning about my life as a cab driver. She loved this idea of me doing comedy so much that she promised to take me to Jou Ma Se Comedy Club, when it was still running at The River Club in Observatory, to watch the show and meet a few people.

“We went a few weeks later and I was absolutely blown away by the show – so much so that I decided to actually give it a try.

“Fiona introduced me to Kurt Schoonraad and Des McKie. Des referred me to the late Rustum August who gave me my first chance to perform at the very same Zula Sound Bar where I first watched a live stand-up comedy show, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

It’s nearly six years later and Mathews still performs stand-up regularly around the city.

“My favourite topic currently is what it was like for me to grow up in Kensington, a place where everyone seems to know everyone.”

He adds that the Freedom Riders clubhouse is the perfect venue for them and that this could be the start of regular performances in the area.

“We need more laughter in our communities and I want Kensington and Factreton – even Maitland – to learn to laugh at life.”

The show will starat at 20:00, at the clubhouse at Unit 10a, Finpark, in12th Avenue.

Tickets are R30 and available at the door.

A happy hour will take place after the show with DJ Ty in action for those who want to party.

V For more information contact Jesse on 072 394 5181 or email

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