Zany comedy crew in own league

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SOME exciting news dropped late last week when it was announced that three highly rated Durban artists; Aaron McIlroy, Ben Voss and John van de Ruit are teaming up to tour a comedy sketch show dubbed The Rise of the Insanity League.

While McIlroy (Dof, The Golfer, The Loser, and @work) and Voss (best known for his alter ego, Beauty Ramapelepele) have been active on the theatre front for several years, the new show marks Van de Ruit’s return to the stage after a decade-long absence.

Van de Ruit, who acted with Voss (in his theatre days) in the Green and Black Mamba sketch shows, is better-known for his Spud series of books-turned-movies.

A press release said the trio has teamed up to deliver a sketch comedy show which “pokes, provokes and tickles” in all the right places.

Tonight caught up with The Rise of the Insanity League’s London-based director, Greig Coetzee, to find out how he became involved in the show and to get a hint at what’s to be expected from the trio. And if this crazy interview is anything to go by, I fear for our stomach muscles once this show hits the road!

Coetzee explained his involvement in the show: “I have been in hiding for a few years, trying to evade Aaron McIlroy since I made a joke in public about his sporran being ginger – apparently Irishmen don’t like it when you mistakenly think they’re Scottish.

“I’ve been disguised all this time as President Zuma’s seventh wife. However, Aaron finally found me hiding in the new R50 000 000 shower room at Nkandla. Now the deal is I have to direct The Insanity League, or be turned into an Irish stew,” Coetzee joked.

Asked if he’d worked with any of the three artists before, he said: “I wasn’t aware that any of the three are artists. As far as I know, Ben Voss is famous for having better legs and a bigger cup-size than Anthony Stonier; Aaron McIlroy is just Irish (not Scottish) and John van de Ruit is the most successful potato farmer in South African history…” he laughed, before offering a more realistic answer:

“I’ve worked with Ben and John before on Green Mamba and a play I wrote called Seeing Red. We were going to do another show called Amber Does Durban and then publish all three scripts as the Traffic Light Trilogy, but then I told the sporran joke and the rest is history…” he said.

Coetzee was willing to provide a bit of insight into how this league was formed and what the audience is headed for: “Luckily, I wasn’t involved in the original planning, so, when we are all arrested, I can turn state witness against the others on the grounds that it wasn’t my idea.

“But from what I have heard, they are already trying to put the blame on too much coffee. That’s a bit like Lance Armstrong putting the blame on his syringe.

“With regards to the actual sketches, I refuse to give too much away at this stage on the grounds that it may incriminate me. But let me describe two of the less controversial items: Ben and John will be doing an all-Indian version of Isidingo that has been renamed Isipingo.

“The grand finale of the show will be a naked, solo experimental dance piece by Aaron titled See… it’s Blonde, not Ginger,” he said (and I know it sounds like a joke, but I actually think he was being serious!)

Commenting on the success of comedy as a genre and the imminent success of The Insanity League, Coetzee said: “Comedy is easier to sell, simple as that. Many people think that serious theatre is like taking medicine – it’s good for you, but you won’t enjoy it. They are wrong (most of the time).

“However, I believe that work of high quality will always find an audience whether it is serious or funny. Sometimes it takes a while, but excellence will sell itself.

“Which is why Rise of The Insanity League will be a raging success: it has first-rate comedy, better legs than Anthony Stonier, top-quality Irish spuds and absolutely no Scotsmen… did I say that right, Aaron? Please don’t hit me again.”

Explaining more about The Insanity League’s promise to “poke, provoke and tickle” in their show, Coetzee said: “A very important part of any democratic society is the right to make a big noise about the things that make us angry, scared, worried, or even just mildly irritated.

“The big noise The Insanity League is choosing to make is laughter. Long, loud laughter directed at corrupt politicians, blinkered racists, drug-taking sportsmen or even really dangerous people like Justin Bieber…

“If we learn to laugh at these things maybe we will also learn how to stop putting up with them and change our society for the better.”

The Insanity League start touring their show in March, kicking off in Port Elizabeth’s Boardwalk Casino from March 5 to 9.

They then move to East London at the Guild Theatre, from March 12 to 16. Durban’s next at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, from March 26 to April 28. Then they will perform at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown from June 27 to July 7, moving on to Joburg’s Montecasino from July 17 to August 11; then to Cape Town at Theatre on the Bay from August 14 until September 1. Next is the Hilton Arts Festival from September 13 to 15 and finally wrapping up in Pretoria (details to be announced at a later date).

• Tickets for The Rise of The Insanity League will be on sale at Computicket, except for the East London run where they’re available at the theatre. Nationwide block bookings of 10 or more and group bookings can be made through Ailsa Windsor on 083 250 2690.

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