TRACEY-Lee Oliver has a lot on the go in entertainment. She’s an amazing singer and a two-time Naledi Awards nominee for her role as Deena Jones in the South African production of the Broadway musical, Dream Girls.
You may remember her as the supporting actress opposite David Kau and Joey Rasdien in the action comedy, Blitzpatrollie, and she stars in the popular TopTV reality series Sugarushed.
But the reason we wanted to speak to Oliver is because of her growing popularity in stand-up comedy. She will be among a host of comedians who are touring the country with the Kings and Queens of Comedy Show and brings with her a fresh take on the musical style of comedy.
In an interview with Tonight the Joburg-based, proudly Cape Town “farm girl” told us a bit about where it all began.
“In the beginning there were the Goliaths…” – just joking – what she actually said was:
“I met Jason Goliath (popular comedian and one half of the Goliath and Goliath comedy franchise) at a gig we did together. He saw me perform and came up with this awesome idea to come up with funny lyrics for parodies to popular songs. Later, when I met with him and Donovan Goliath (no relation to Jason), we got to talking and I told them that I also do singer impersonations. So I had to do some for them, which was very intimidating, but they laughed and that was how it all began,” she explained.
Oliver said that since childhood she has sung and performed her impersonations in front of the mirror: “It just came naturally to me. I also love to make people laugh and now I’m doing comedy.”
But taking that plunge into comedy wasn’t as easy as it sounds, said Oliver, as she recalled her first stand-up gig at the popular AWEdnesday Comedy Jam in Joburg.
“After Jason and Donovan discovered I could do impressions they booked me for AWEdnesday… my stomach turned immediately. I thought I was going to crash and burn in front of that crowd.”
But crash and burn she did not. We caught part of Oliver’s set from that night on YouTube. Judging by the audience who were rolling with laughter we believe she was a hit.
“I’m a singer. I’ve been singing live and professionally for nine years. With singing you rehearse, you know the songs. And then along came stand-up comedy. That moment when you are basically naked on stage and exposed. But I got a standing ovation and it was so much fun,” she laughs.
Having now also had a crack at acting and comedy, Oliver said she is hard pressed to state a favourite.
“It’s difficult for me to separate the three because they all relate to performing and I love performing, especially live – having that immediate response from some- one watching me there and then.”
The Kings and Queens of Comedy marks Oliver’s first major stand-up tour: “I really owe Jason and Donovan. They’ve given me such a massive break. The type of comedy I do is a formula we figured works. I’m blessed to know a lot of comedians personally and it’s a bit intimidating as a newbie in the industry to be touring with guys who’ve been doing this for 15 or 20 years, such masters of their craft. I would just be happy to be with them, even if I wasn’t performing… even if I was like a runner or something,” she laughed.
Some of the big names Oliver will be rolling with on this tour include Marc Lottering, Riaad Moosa, Darren Simpson, Darren Maule, Anele Mdoda, Celeste Ntuli, Mark Banks, Trevor Gumbi, Tshepo Mogale, Muthu Murugan, Kurt Schoonrad, Stuart Taylor, Ndumiso Lindi, Mel Jones, Rob van Vuuren, Donovan Goliath, Simmi Areff, Chester Missing and Conrad Koch, Jason Goliath, Deep Fried Man and many more.
The show starts in Cape Town on Saturday at The Grand Arena, GrandWest, is in Durban on February 14 at The ICC; Port Elizabeth on May 24 at The ICC and in Joburg on May 30 and 31 at the Centre Court at Emperors Palace.
“This show will also mark my first professional comedy show in Cape Town since leaving there nine years ago. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone from my home town, Grabouw, so they must please get into their cars and come over the mountain and see the show,” Oliver laughed.
• Tickets for Kings and Queens of Comedy start from R160 at Computicket.