Marc Lottering
Marc Lottering

MARC Lottering is one of the most consistently funny comedians I’ve ever encountered — in performance and in person. It’s almost impossible to conduct an interview with the quick-witted, wild-haired one without collapsing in a jelly-like mess of giggles, as he tosses in witty remarks about the show, popular culture and so on. In fact, it’s like a mini-comedy performance for an audience of one.

I remember a particular interview I had with Lottering and Shaleen Surtie-Richards at the News Café at the Joburg Theatre a few years ago, before a pantomime they were both starring in. At several stages it became physically impossible to write down what they were saying, as their banter escalated into rapid-fire ripostes, each more outrageous and raucous than the last, leaving me eventually surrendering to helpless convulsions of laughter.

Subsequent interviews have been equally entertaining affairs, although when Lottering gets down to brass tacks and discusses serious subjects, it’s clear he’s no fool — a court jester with a brain. And he radiates this instant likeability plus a natural ability to connect with a cross-section of audiences, in his live one-man comedy shows, too.

At one stage, however, Lottering’s act started losing its lustre when the focus increasingly shifted to the characters he had created, à la Pieter-Dirk Uys, such as Auntie Merle, Galatia Geduldt, Smiley the taxi guy and others. Alas, sometimes we just yearned to see plain old Marc.

No comedian, regardless of his following, can afford to become complacent, especially in South Africa, where there are bright young funny things knocking on the door all the time.

A couple of years ago, he confided that he was, in fact, all too aware of the danger of getting trapped in a comfort zone and becoming a caricature of himself: "I’ve started listening to myself more and am realising how much kak I speak — how the cheap entertainment stuff rolls out of my mouth for no reason." There is, one supposes, such a thing as lazy paint-by-numbers comedy.

The good news is that Lottering’s new one-man show, I Don’t Work on Sundays!, at the upstairs Studio venue at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre in Fourways until October 7, is by no means cheap entertainment. Neither is it nasty.

It is 80 minutes of pure stand-up comedy gold.

It’s refreshing to see him going back to basics and remembering why audiences have always lapped up his comedy ambrosia like a bergie gifted with a papsak.

Lottering is in top form, commanding the unadorned stage with his presence throughout, without even pausing to take a sip of water. Looking trim, healthy and relaxed, he finds the touch points in his multicultural audience with consummate ease.

In English interspersed with the odd splash of Afrikaans, he takes on Joburgers, Capetonians and Durbanites, the Olympics, celebrity baby names and even 50 Shades of Grey. And his R&B interpretation of Silent Night is a show stopper.

It’s not highbrow stuff, neither will it change the world, but it’s very closely and cleverly observed adult comedy fodder and it hits the bull’s-eye every time.

As Lottering once told me, when people fork out money to see a comedy show, "they want to slap their knees and laugh — they’re not there to watch Debora Patta giving someone the Third Degree". There’s no Patta but ample comedy patter in his latest show — this is Lottering unplugged, unfettered and slightly unhinged, and it’s tremendous fun.

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THERE’s even more entertainment to be had in Johannesburg this week, as the city wakes up to spring after its winter hiatus. There is so much happening at the moment, including the Arts Alive International Festival, which is crammed with great theatre, dance, music, poetry, art, literature and even the Fujian Marionette Art Troupe from Quanzhou in China.

It is great to see our venues bulging with entertainment options. Let’s hope the public also supports this profusion of events. What a pity that, with media space for the arts shrinking by the hour, never mind the day, it’s not always easy for people to find out what’s on and when.