FOR SOMEONE with such a distinctive hairstyle and infectious laugh, Marc Lottering (pictured) can make himself surprisingly unobtrusive.

If you are paying attention you will spot him in and around Cape Town, haunting the corners of coffee shops, promenading down Sea Point’s beachfront, pretending to walk the dog. What he is really doing is research, unashamedly eavesdropping on people to hear what makes them tick and use it in his stand-up routines.

“People have interesting opinions on things that you can’t just hear when you put them on a platform, but you hear somebody else’s take on 50 Shades of Grey. You’ll never get that unedited version from that person again, so you pick up on those things.

“If I still think about those things the next day, that’s the kind of stuff I write about,” said Lottering.

Under pressure to name his new show earlier this year, he was ignoring the phone, knowing it was the Baxter Theatre calling.

“Don’t they know I don’t work Sundays?” he exclaimed and the rest is showbiz history.

“I like to let my mind just go crazy and not place limits on myself if there is an opportunity for a funny story. My mind only does that when I’m not working at night, so that usually happens on a Sunday because there’s no pressure,” he explained.

The 44-year-old Capetonian adores Sundays because he knows he doesn’t have to work in the evening – though the Joburg Market Theatre severely crimped his style earlier this year when they put on Sunday performances.

Lottering began his professional stand-up career almost 15 years ago and the first show he did at the Baxter was From the Cape Flats with Love in 2001 and since then he’s been doing all sorts of work and telling all sorts of stories.

“Along the way I realised that it’s moved away from growing up on the Cape Flats to what’s funny for all of us. If you tell a story, even about growing up in Retreat, you kind of learn to make the story funny for everybody. That, I guess, is the funny business.”

While this show does partly rely on headlines of the day Lottering can play with, he doesn’t think the headlines of late are issues he wants to tackle on stage: “I’m of the opinion that people would actually prefer not to talk about Marikana and R80 being a fair or unfair wage for 80 minutes: If you mention those things you’d better be damn sure people will be slapping their knees from laughter by what you saw in it, but at the same time that you haven’t crossed the line.”

I Don’t Work On Sundays features no costume changes or characters such as Aunty Merle or Shmiley, though there is an element of characterisation.

Over 15 years Lottering has worked on pantomimes, in a variety show as a pianist, in staged plays and sung in musicals, but he finds that he keeps returning to stand-up.

“The thing for me is, don’t take it for granted. Sometimes your calling is your calling and you must know who you are. Those are only things you can learn by walking around and bumping your toe.

“People go: ‘So, what are you, what do you do?’ and I safely say to people I’m a comedian. That’s what I do. I still love telling a funny story, I still love hearing people laugh and laughing along. That makes me very, very happy.”

• I Don’t Work On Sundays, the Baxter until Jan 5. Tuesday to Saturday at 8.15pm, New Year’s show: Dec 31, 10pm. R80 to R100 at Computicket. No under-16s.