HIS name seems to be popping up on a host of comedy line-ups around town, and it’s for a good reason too.
Dusty Rich is taking the Durban comedy scene by storm with a host of successes under his belt – including performing at the popular Nando’s International Comedy Festival and opening for Trevor Noah during his That’s Racist tour.
But what does Dusty consider the highlights of his career this year? “There has been some success that can be perceived as large career-boosting events… I think for me though the brightest highlight has to be a shift in my own mind, a kind of internal realisation or epiphany regarding my perceptions of stand-up, the industry and my own ability.
“This is obviously attributed to all the lessons I’ve picked up from these successes. I also regard every little or large gig, when that laughter and a connection strikes up between me and the audience, as a success – and everyone is a highlight. Success in general is a by-product for me as long as it leads to more audiences, larger and more frequent, then I’m cool,” he explained.
We asked whether, when he won the Comedy Showdown and earned his spot on the international Nando’s Fest stage, he thought he had a shot at a win?
“Cue the usual cliché… ‘It’s not about winning’… Before you are about to go up there to talk about the insane musings that run around your mind like a couple of wet cats, you may have a flash that this is for some sort of prize thing, but the minute you’re in front of a percent-age of humanity, all eager and rapt in anticipation as to what this other human is going to tell them, whether it be about prolific life-altering tales from this prophetic fool, or simply how he goes to the loo, all disguised as humour, a competition is the least of your worries.
“A comedy competition in general is really a silly situation, (as) humour is so subjective, and we as a species have such varied tastes and preferences and our opinions of those alternatives are just as varied. It comes down to the best connec-tions with the most people and my sense of humour. But to answer your question, did I think I had a chance of winning? F*** Yes!”
And his best moment of that experience?
“A few great moments… meeting one of my favourite comedians in Mitch Fatel, who I first caught wind of in the 90s when I was just a small girl, not yet besmirched by the dastardly real world, then that same idolised comedian uses a “call back gag” (look it up) using one of my jokes in his headline slot, which made me wee a little.
“Performing with these ‘Americans’ which seems like a daunting task because we put these foreigners on such glittery pedestals, then discovering I could throw punch lines just as hard as these heavyweights. The international comedians doing all their media and interviews – our comedians don’t really warrant that shiny pedestal to make it on to those media interviews to talk about ourselves like we’re buttering bread with money… “ he digresses in irritation before adding: “…They would be mentioning my name in a positive light and the information would filter back to me through various other sources, which is always a cool occurrence.
“Performing to Durban, varied audiences, folks that might not always make it out to the little restaurants and pub side shows we call a (comedy) club circuit. Despite stalking about like a little weird guy backstage among people I have seen on colour television, it was cool to be considered among their pedigree.
“The aftermath congratulations and admiration was lovely too, I am a sucker for attention.”
So then what was his first thought when he was approached to be Trevor Noah’s opening act? “I’ll check my diary… and Trevor who? … Obviously after I stopped sobbing like I had just won an academy award and I came from a third world country I was super grateful. Terrified, arrogance and denial were other feelings that slapped my psyche leading up to the event.
“Could I pull this off, some wrong side of the tracks, skinny white tattooed megalomaniac who grew up in Amanzimtoti, could I do this?
“I think we all do that from time to time, doubt ourselves because of pre-existing conditions, but if a small little village Mvezo in the Eastern Cape can birth a man who changed the whole damn world, I could tell a few people some insanities about myself in front of one of South Africa’s biggest entertainers. You should all do that, if you’re having trouble reaching goals and such, stop being so lazy and ditch the ‘poor me’ attitude, light a metaphorical fire up under your ass and go do great things.
“We have enough waste-of-space zombies walking the earth. Your twitter timelines and Facebook walls won’t miss you, they’ll talk about you. Go now, stop reading this, it’s really just self-absorbed poo, don’t worry about me, go do something; I’ll meet you at the top. Go!”
And so I left the room, ended the interview and went on to become Miss Universe – “…and I’d like to thank Dusty for telling me to just go!” – just joking… back to the ever-expressive Mr Rich…
“I learnt a lot (opening for Noah). Thirteen performances every single show sold out, over 19 000 people saw and heard me show my insanity. Pietermaritzburg in the city hall in front of the southern hemisphere’s biggest organ (well second biggest, get it?) was very cool, it was a riotous, great crowd. Hanging with Trevor and hearing the adventures and stories he’s gotten up to and getting up to, taking notes the whole time and figuring ways to top it,” he said jokingly… or was he?
Dusty describes himself as a type of comedian that doesn’t have a ‘type’: “I am ‘unique’, so unique I definitely lean towards the side of peculiar. I have always kept an eye on the unique factor, I despise mundaneness and repetition in subject matter. I persevere to give folks a glimpse into my mind... it’s a message to the world to accept your eccentricities, your weirdness or your flaws, own who you are and don’t apologise to the conformists.
“Be different. There are enough hipsters and followers. If they follow you, so be it, but be at the front, for goodness sake. As much as we are all the same, we are all different. Instead of shoving your boring, over-played conformist ideas in other people’s faces, laugh at the differences, celebrate the unique and deny the judgment. I like to throw rocks at society’s assumed and accepted norms, I’m a rebel without a cause but I definitely have a message, it’s tainted with a few naughty words but it’s delicious, provocative and awkward.”
So where can you see the one and only Dusty in the near future?
“Lots of plans, going inter-national; well, scrounging a ticket, sleeping on some floors, begging for spots at comedy clubs in another country further than Namibia; touring South Africa with lots and lots more comedy.
“I am in a movie coming out in January, shot in Durban. I play a weedy drug dealer, type-cast, and it’s called Curry & Vice.
“I want to try some radio, I talk a lot… My mother relayed a story to me recently about how, when asked as kids what they wanted to be when they grew up, my four siblings all replied with specific career options: I simply and adamantly replied… rich and famous.
“That’s what I’ll do in 2012, that seems fun …I’ll buy you all happiness.”