Two women next to me were doubled over in what looked like pain. My escort was in dire danger of having an asthma attack. Even though laughter is supposed to be good for you, Marc Lottering should probably come with a health warning. By LESLEY STONES.
Lottering’s latest stand-up comedy show, I Don’t Work On Sundays, is packing the diminutive Studio Theatre at Montecasino for a six-week run. Lottering could easily fill the far larger main theatre, but playing in the smaller venue gives the show a wonderful intimacy. It is a privilege to watch him performing – so it seems – just for you.
Lottering is blessed with that ridiculous and distinctive hairstyle that makes you laugh the moment he walks on stage. Beneath it, his face puckers up in intensity when he’s telling his stories, then splits with a huge grin that doubles the impact of the punch line.
Often the gags end with a burst of Afrikaans or lilting Cape Coloured, but even if you don’t understand the exact words, you’re laughing at the nuances and the mannerisms. If you’re multilingual, so much the better: you’re howling at his throwaway quips and fabulous ability to hone in on the minutia of daily life and make it hilarious.
He starts by endearing himself to the Joburg audience by pointing out how very different we are from his native Cape Towners. Here, we may not work on Sundays, but in Cape Town people barely work at all, he says. He tells us he’s in danger of getting an ulcer just from experiencing our traffic, with Joburgers born with their hands on the hooter.
We love hearing about ourselves, of course, and Lottering builds up his jokes and anecdotes with fantastic attention to detail, so we can picture ourselves in the verbal images he spins. He’s affectionate, not abrasive, and delights us by inserting himself firmly into our world. This is clever observational comedy, and a wonderful change from the coarse and abusive comedy spewed out recently on a tour by American jesters.
Unusually for a stand-up act, Lottering doesn’t venture far into the world of politics or social satire. Julius Malema gets a brief mention, and Jacob Zuma’s airplane exploits, but most of the time he draws his laughs from ordinary people doing ordinary things. Reality TV and slobbing on the couch on Sundays, dog whisperers and his positive outlook for South Africa. He’s always shooting off at a tangent, slipping in a couple of other jokes along the way, then snapping right back to the central threat of his patter without missing a beat.
This latest show is full of fresh material told without the aid of props and against a minimalistic black backdrop – in keeping with these austere economic times, he tells us. There are no characters either, with his traditional Auntie Merle taking a break from this show. That suits me fine. I much prefer Lottering when he’s speaking in his own stitch-inducing, stomach-cramping voice.
Lottering is an absolute professional and a brilliant, loveable comedian. Technically he’s already too big to be playing such a cosy venue, but if it works for him, hell, it works perfectly for me.
I Don’t Work On Sundays runs at Montecasino’s Studio Theatre until 7 October. DM
* Review courtesy of www.lesleystones.co.za