Master of mirth in solo gig

It’s always a pleasure to speak to a comedian who takes their craft seriously. While some people may be easily blinded by the cheques the corporates cut and yes, even twoupies (what else can you call groupies on Twitter?), there are still people who work on churning out the best gags, whether using just a microphone or with the help of a musical instrument.

Daniel Friedman, better known as Deep Fried Man, is one such comedian. His first one-man show, Deep Fried Man is Deeply Fried, kicks off next week and will definitely be worth checking out.

We spoke to the man who loves “the idea of doing my own thing in a theatre. Club gigs are great and serve their purpose but there’s nothing better than getting laughs in a theatre where everyone came there just to see you”.

You started comedy professionally two years ago; what was the bigger picture?

I started doing comedy because my gran said try it, but I didn’t expect it to take off. Then I kept doing it and realised there’s something in it and that I could get better and make a career out of it. So I began to put pressure on myself to do things like this one-man show because I felt I got into the game so late and I’m making up for lost time. I want to be one of South Africa’s top comedians and I’m not naïve enough or arrogant enough to think that I’m there yet.

In the past, having a one-man show used to be a big deal, almost like a rite of passage; is it still like that today?

People’s perspectives are different, so different guys are motivated by different things. There are young guys I know who don’t have the perspective that a one-man show is a necessary thing to do. They may be more drawn to putting effort into getting into advertising, corporate gigs or endorsements. See, a one-man show is not the route to fame and fortune. I see it as working on my craft.

A while ago, I spoke to Tats Nkonzo who said when he started his career, people couldn’t see that he’s funny beyond the guitar…

The funny thing is that people always compare Tats and I, but anyone who’s ever heard both of us can see how different we are. Just because we are both standing there with a guitar.

And The Brothers Streep too…

Yes, even with The Brothers Streep. But, they’ve got songs. What me and Tats do is more stand-up comedy with a guitar. We get the laugh and move on. I always tell Tats that if he wanted to stop comedy he could actually be an R&B superstar. He’s got that smooth thing. He’s funny without being dirty so you could probably invite him to your church’s year-end function. But I like dirty, it’s just what I’m into. The worst thing is when I get called a novelty act. It’s like I’m on a unicycle juggling or I breathe fire – that’s not what I see myself as. I really respect a stand-up comedian who can just be on stage talking and you don’t even see the time going by. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. I want to get to a stage where I can get up without a guitar and still rock it.

What do you want people to come away with at your show?

I want people to have laughed about stuff they wouldn’t normally laugh about. I want to create that expectation of ‘what is he going to do next?’ So expect an hour of laughter and music.