Aaron McIlroy

Actor and comedian, Aaron McIlroy, whips out his blackboard and chalk for his new show, Comedy Masterclass. Latoya Newman reports

Aaron McIlroy is set to premier his new show, Comedy Masterclass, at UKZN’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban from next week.

A press release said he will delve into the science that underpins the world’s oldest coping mechanism, a sense of humour, in this show which is co-written by himself and Patrick Kenny (and directed by Kenny).

In an interview with Tonight, McIlroy said the idea for the show was sparked while he watched a TED talk (influential videos by expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity).

“Humourist, writer and trickster, Emily Levine, spoke on ‘science and the human condition’. I don’t remember everything she said, but it sparked an interest in me to tackle humour from a more intellectual, in-depth approach and to analyse all its intricacies. I never thought I would actually write a show on it, but the more research I did, the more material I found and felt that it is definitely something everyone can relate to and, to be honest, something we all need to know.

“Because in this day and age when there is so much ‘stuff’ going on – the old adage that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ rings true. Everyone loves to laugh and enjoy a good mental workout at the same time. My objective is to bring philosophy to life so that people can laugh at the major and mundane in our existence because nothing is just a joke! ‘I’m just joking!’ is an oxymoron and can be the most cutting thing someone can say. Comedy has the ability to be destructive and uplifting in equal measure.”

On director Kenny, McIlroy said: “Patrick is a fine actor and a long-time friend. He was a stand-up comedian and member of Durban Poison with John Vlismas and the late Sean Griggs. He was also part of Comedy Games – improvisation comedy that rocked Durban in the ’90s, and the writer of The Friday Comedy Show on SAFM and Pat Ponders on the East Coast Radio Breakfast Show. Most recently he has turned his focus to writing and directing work for the National Breast Feeding Campaign which is funded by the Bill Gates Foundation.

“We are similar in that we are both ADHD and can share each other’s medication if one of us runs out,” he jokes, adding: “Patrick is also an intellectual with a wicked sense of humour and he has a masters degree in useless information so I thought he would be the perfect person to challenge and partner with me on this roller-coaster ride deep into the human psyche on our archeological quest to uncover the comedic Holy Grail, aka the funny bone!”

Commenting on what he loves most about comedy, McIlroy said: “I remember when I was a drama student at ’varsity, walking into a tutorial class to perform my Hamlet monologue, and all the lecturers started laughing before I even opened my mouth. I was frustrated because I wanted to be taken ‘seriously’ as the part required me to be earnest and sincere, but it didn’t take long for me to acknowledge where my true gifting was so I just went for it and surrendered to my calling to be a comedic actor.”

His inspirations include John Cleese, Eddie Murphy, Billy Connolly, Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell and the absurdity of Steven Wright. “Most of them are not afraid to let it all hang out. They are reality on steroids and the voices that people need and want to hear so they can laugh at themselves and the world we live in. All of them are boundary breakers in the comedic genre and have the ability to make us rethink and question our reality and belief systems.”

Comedy Masterclass: May 19 to June 5. R120 to R145 at Computicket. Block bookings: Ailsa Windsor on 083 250 2690 or e-mail [email protected]