Having made his footprints in comedy in just five years, Robby Collins’ hunger for more has propelled him into the acting arena. This time, he plays a badass guy called Rocky in e.tv’s Rhythm City. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with him to get the lowdown on his career plans…
ROBBY Collins’ lanky frame is as distinct as his comedy. In his five years in stand-up, he has tickled the funnybone at a myriad of comedy shows (The Heavy Weight Comedy Jam, Blacks Only Kings, Queens of Comedy and Comedy Central Live at Parkers), bagged a movie role in Curry and Vice and written for Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola and eKasi Stories.
Aside from nominations at the Comics Choice Awards for two years, he performed his one-hander That Bushman’s Crazy at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
Talented he most certainly is.
And he has this inherent hunger to latch on to as many things in the entertainment industry as he can.
He says, “I have done TV a while back. I did an episode of Scandal. I went on as a comedian. I have also done a lot of sketches on Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola. Being on TV was always something I wanted to do. I have always been interested in different mediums of entertainment,” he continues.
Since fate favoured him when he tried out for a stand-up comedy competition in his home town of Durban in 2008, Collins says he hasn’t looked back.
The comedian-actor adds, “When Robin Williams passed away, I was devastated. He was one of the people I looked up to as he did stand-up and dramatic roles as well.”
Back to where he draws his inspiration from, he notes, “It comes from experience and observation. The weird thing is, when people laugh at your jokes, it is an acknowledgement of what you say.
“So when I’m going through something personal, I write about it. And there might be 20 people that are also experiencing it.”
On the acting front – now that the bug has evidently bitten – he is taking his craft seriously and is with an agency.
Of his audition, he says, “I auditioned in the beginning of June. The guy who I’m opposite in the soap is called Big Man. He is an actor from Durban too so when he saw my name on the list, he hung around and waited for me to audition with him.”
Now he has an interesting role – he plays a thug, but a loyal one at that, especially to those close to him.
Shedding more light on Rocky, he says, “He is very streetsmart. He is friendly but, at the same time, he could break your arm. It is very tricky; you never know what could piss him off. Most of the time, he has his guard up. There is a soft side but it is only with people he trusts.”
As someone who taps into personal experience, Tonight asked him how he got into character.
He laughs, “I have been around those kind of boys. In fact, I have a cousin who is pretty much exactly like Rocky. He is one of those that you don’t invite to the family braai. I’m still afraid of him.”
Although he has got his head around the fact that with stand-up you can immediately gauge a reaction, TV takes a little longer.
Collins says, “You just hoping what you’re doing is the right thing.”
Rocky arrives to help Big Man with a situation. Of course, it snowballs into something else.
He hints, “He comes to help a friend but at the same time, he causes a lot of havoc with the other people like David Genaro, who doesn’t scare him.”
That smacks of a build-up to another showdown as Genaro is feared with good reason.
On working with Jamie Bartlett (Genaro), he notes, “He is so focused. He knows his character so well. He taught me all these little things like bending my legs (because I’m so tall) so the light falls on me.”
Viewers will get to see Rocky for a few episodes and, should everything go well, the character will return.
• Robby Collins debuts on e.tv’s Rhythm City on Monday September 1. The soap airs on weekdays at 6.30pm.