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BRITISH-born, Cape Town-based comedian, Martin Evans (pictured), is a man who lives in the moment when it comes to his brand of stand-up comedy.
The multi-award winning comic has just returned from an extensive tour overseas and will be performing a host of gigs in Durban this week.
Tonight caught up with Evans to find out more about his comedy and what he’ll be bringing to the table while he’s here.
“I never have a set. I never know what I’m going to speak about. It’s all in the moment,” Evans begins as he explains his style of stand-up comedy.
“There are no rules to what I will try and what I won’t try. There are different ways to not be so steadfast that you can’t introduce a different dynamic or ideas (to your set). My favourite comedians are the people who just talk and tell stories. The ones who go with pure jokes, written form, punch lines… that’s not my thing.
“My comedy is all in the moment. It works for me. I’m not saying it’s the only way; it’s just that I don’t have the memory capacity or the concentration span to sit and write everything down. A lot of my material is repeated, but a lot of my ideas are pretty much made up on the spot,” he said.
Evans said that when he gets on stage, he likes to improvise with an audience.
“I’m pretty much almost going like John Edwards’ style at people,” he chuckled.
“I can assess from somebody if they’re a certain type, were they bullied at school, are conservative… you don’t know people until you meet them.”
Having travelled broadly with comedy in the US, the UK and Europe, I asked Evans what this had revealed to him regarding comedy audiences.
“One of the reasons for travelling so much is that the more you see things the more you have an understanding of the world around you… When you move around the world, and, for example, you’ve heard about people who may be the best for whatever reason and other countries that are the best for a certain reason, and when you get there you see the faults and the cracks and the problems they have too; or equally you and go and see the real beauty of things. So it does inspire me. It makes me happy to travel and see different countries and learn more about people.”
Commenting on comedy audiences, Evans believes that South African audiences have developed a lot over the years. “South Africa has a very unique audience dynamic. One that I haven’t been overly proud of for a while… For a long time South African audiences, I thought, would have laughed at the most child-like, non important comedy ever…but they’ve got better. Our comedians have got a lot better and our audiences have had the opportunity to certainly improve. And if I compare them to six or seven years ago, they were not at all comedy literate.
“Now they’ve been on YouTube and got the DVDs and heard of all the comics from around the world whom they hadn’t necessarily seen. They have exposed themselves to this industry and our audiences are now an attraction to international performers because we’re getting heaps of comedy,” he said.
For Evans comedy in South Africa has also come a long way: “I have loved comedy since I was a kid. I always wanted to be involved with humour, but there was never an identifiable path. The only way I really knew I would get into comedy one day, is when I got so sick and tired of being in a corporate environment, I just couldn’t do it.
“It wasn’t a question of doing comedy, but a question of not doing corporate. So the comedy kind of fell in and around it in some sort of strange way.
“Nowadays for people trying to get into the industry I think there are more definable paths to get into stand up comedy.
“Twenty or 30 years ago when someone like say Joe Parks or Mel Miller, in the South African context, were going around the country doing their thing, it was literally them and a microphone and a PA (system) in the back of a car, doing their thing. It wasn’t something where you could say there was an existing industry.
“It’s a strange world, but it’s an easy one to get into now,” he said.
Evans comes to the Durban stage after an absence of about a year-and-a-half. This week you can catch him at:
• Mozambik Comedy Night (Gateway) on today with Carvin Goldstone and Masood Boomgaard. Show starts 8.30pm, entry is R50. Info/bookings: 031 836 1574 or e-mail gateway @mozambik.co.za.
• Mozambik Comedy Night (at Ballito) tomorrow with Neil Green and Boomgaard. Show starts 8.30pm, entry is R50. Info/bookings: call 032 946 0979 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
• New York Comedy Club (101 Innes Road, Morningside) on Thursday with Carvin Goldstone, Liam E Johns and Jem Atkins. Entrance is R40. Info/bookings: 031 312 9605.
• Late Night Comedy at the Catalina – Whose Line? improv comedy show on Friday with Goldstone, Atkins and Arno Else. 10pm to 11.30pm at the Catalina Theatre (Wilson’s Wharf). R80 (show only), R140 (includes dinner at John Dory’s or Spur beforehand). For more info, call 031 837 5999.
• You can keep up to date with Martin Evans’ gigs on Twitter: handle @hellpants.