“We’re keen observers.”
The notion is a stark contrast to the guy yacking on stage. However, it’s plausible that it’s from the “look and listen” that Collins gathers his material, which has helped earn him a reputation for being highly original.
The modest and, indeed, shy 30-year-old actor-cum-comedian said his personal life was his greatest source of inspiration.
“About 99% of my show is from my personal life... I may exaggerate a little, but it’s my personal truth and I think audiences relate.”
His latest performance and his second one-man stand-up comedy show, Son of Carol, is scheduled for the Garden Court Hotel (Marine Parade) on September 29 and 30.
“It is a homage to my relationship with my mother,” he said.
“When we would visit relatives' houses, she would warn, 'Don’t touch', lest I break anything - a phrase familiar among my generation.
"But beyond that, she also taught me all the values that adulthood is testing - there’s a tension there worth exploring.
“The show is a kind of coming-of-age. I worked on it for over a year and essentially encapsulated life lessons from my childhood to adulthood.”
While on the comedy scene, he is often taken for being coloured, but Collins was born in Durban and lived between Sydenham, Wentworth and Overport.
He went to school at Fairvale Secondary. “I don’t like the boxes people try to put me in. I never really experienced apartheid first-hand, but I still find myself dealing with it,” he said.
“There was a time when everyone was doing (Jacob) Zuma jokes. But now there’s so much uncertainty, it doesn’t feel right. People are looking to comedy for relief.”
“I went to Joburg to help accelerate my career. I was sleeping on the floor in a Melville apartment when Trevor Noah called and asked me to open his shows for him.”
He describes Noah as a big brother figure.
“When I met Trevor, he was about to blow up. I spent three months on the road with him, so it’s difficult not to become friends. But he is shy like many other comedians and you’ll find that we don’t let people into the circle very easily.”
Collins was the warm-up act for Noah’s recent South African tour. In the past he, has opened for Marc Lottering and Eugene Khoza as well, but now it’s his star that is on the rise.
Our interview came days after he had returned from New York, having met some of his comedy idols, among them Chris Rock.
Collins has been working hard. He played to the biggest comedy audiences in South Africa with appearances at The Heavyweight Comedy Jam and Blacks Only comedy shows.
He earned a well-deserved nomination for “breakthrough act of the year” at the inaugural Comics Choice Awards.
He most recently participated in the biggest comedy festival in the world, the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, where he also performed at a live recording of LOL (Laugh Out Loud), produced by world-famous comedian Kevin Hart.
And his talents are not reserved for the stage, having been involved in the small screen in his capacity as an actor on e.tv’s soap, Rhythm City, and writer and performer on Laugh Out Loud and Late Night News with Loyiso Gola.
If his debut one-man show, called That Bushman’s Crazy! - based on growing up in Durban - is anything to go by, Son of Carol is not to be missed.