Johannesburg - After the overwhelming success of his show 40 last year, stand-up comedian John Vlismas is once again venturing into one-man shows.
In two weeks time Vlismas will embark on an exploration of the fiery depths of the world coming to an end in his new show Revelations – which also includes a roasting of President Jacob Zuma.
The Saturday Star caught up with Vlismas this week to chat about his new one-man show.
What is your one-man show Revelations all about and what can your fans look forward to?
Revelations is a show in three parts. Firstly there’s some stand-up comedy – it’s new material, and all about the many ends of the world that humanity has designed for itself and why: Mayans, tsunamis, black people, asteroids, God and the Devil… all have been accused of some kind of Armageddon, and so far service delivery has been appalling.
The second part will be something really challenging for me. I’ve decided to attack all my own sacred cows for a change, just to show that there are no hard feelings towards my favourite target (other people), and that all is fair in laughter as well as war.
The third part is a roast. I’ve done two Comedy Central Roasts and two CCA Grillings, and I feel it’s time someone roasted the president. So I’m doing one on my own at the end of my show.
In order to make sure that the show really does attack my own soft spots, I’ve partnered with Christopher Steenkamp to help me write. He’s talented but I also asked him because I know he’ll keep the integrity intact; he’s kind of the Chris the Baptist of local comedy.
Your show 40 was an overwhelming success last year. What is the key to succeeding in the comedy industry in South Africa and remaining fresh?
I think there are a few ways to stay fresh. My thing is always to write new material, but also to find ways to bring in new technology and spend time and energy on design and imaging. There will be live music, graphics and multimedia – I believe all these disciplines are merging on world stages and my own taste for gadgetry, music and visual art make for a really interesting mix. I hope the audience agrees.
Do you think South Africans, especially our politicians, make it easy for you to come up with material?
A leading question, Milady, but yes, politicians – not just ours, as a global species – are a humid, unclean surface to the bacteria of comedy.
A live band will open up for you. Why did you decide on including one?
I’ve done it before. I had Afrikaans metal men, Kobus, open my last TV special. This time the band playing is a new project by top tattoo artist Busta Bolton and Martin Schofield (Rocka) – they’re called The Spinebenders and play the kind of music you’d expect to waft out of the Bayou, if the Bayou were just west of Benoni.
As a comedian, just how difficult is it to please a South African crowd?
SA crowds, and I say this as someone who has played from Melbourne to Berlin, are the gutsiest, most honest and no-nonsense crowds in the world. We are a dysfunctional family, but we take it on the chin, and we have depth.
I understand that your show Revelations will be somewhat different to your shows in the past. In what ways will it be different?
You’ll have to come and see. I never reveal all until the moment the lights go down and we all get naked.