It’s a typically busy Wednesday morning at Starbucks in Rosebank when Marc and I meet. One of the waiter’s admires Marc’s lumo green takkies as we make our way to a table, and I notice he’s drawing more than one or two surreptitious glances from a few other customers. He’s casually nonchalant as we sit down and begin our chat.
I ask Marc when he first realised he was funny. He tells me that he never really did! He’s never liked conflict, or people arguing, and turns to humour to diffuse these types of situations when they arise. He prefers to be around relaxed people and he genuinely enjoys making people laugh.
Marc grew up in Retreat, in the Cape Flats. His father was a pastor, and the clear understanding was that when you left school, you went to university to study towards a secure career. His mom actually wanted him to follow his father and become a churchman! So, being the respectful son that he was, Marc went and studied Law! I swear, I nearly fell off my chair when I heard this – but then we got into a discussion about those TV shows that we watched at the time: LA Law, Ally McBeal and the like (actually that whole Monday night vibe … Dynasty, Magnum … big shoulders … but I digress) You know, those shows made the legal profession just so sexy and appealing! But I don’t think that’s quite what our parents had in mind!
So I was trying to fathom how a Law degree turned into becoming one of the top 10, most loved comedians in South Africa. By the time he reached 4th year Law, Marc had achieved his BA degree and was working as an usher at the Baxter Theatre – a Cape Town institution. He was watching iconic actors like Pieter Dirk Uys and was riveted by the unapologetic honesty of the shows he was watching; shows about everyday life that really touched him. Satire was huge at the time, and this thoroughly appealed to him. And here’s where one of those serendipitous life events occurs: round about this time the owner of an advertising agency suggested that Marc should come in for a job interview, which he did. He started the next day, gave up studying towards that Law degree and started to carve a creative niche for himself.
At the ad agency, Marc was doing loads of copywriting. Creativity was encouraged, and he started to find that no matter what he said, people laughed – even when he wasn’t trying to be funny! This was to be his home for 6 years.
By the time his 30th birthday rolled around, Marc was renting an apartment from award-winning author and journalist, Marianne Thamm. Clearly she spotted his potential and encouraged him to share his unique story-telling prowess, seeing his knack for drawing people in and for making them laugh. For his 30th birthday, Marc booked a small venue, an upstairs room at The Coffee Lounge, filled it with some friends, arrived with a ‘doek’ in his pocket, which he promptly put on his head at some stage of his performance, and introduced his audience to ‘Aunty Merle’, a typical Athlone housewife (who became one of his well-known cast of characters, which included Colleen the cashier and Travis the coolest club-hopper that ever lived). His audience lapped it up, roaring with total hilarity. So much so, that the owner of the venue came up to see what all the noise was about.
By the end of that evening, Marc had been booked to appear at the venue for another two weeks. Unsurprisingly, word spread like wildfire, and the place was full every single night. He was thoroughly enjoying what he thought was a brief dabble with stand-up comedy until journalists started showing up, rave reviews started pouring in, and the rest, as they say, is history!
I found Marc completely unaffected by his status – he had no problem being approached by people wanting to chat and take selfies with him, including one who excitedly claimed “I have a friend who always gets to meet famous people, and now I can show her I met someone famous too!”
But if you think that was where the interview ended … well, no!! Did you honestly think I was going to interview a comedian, and just chat about mundane stuff like life, TV and what colour takkies they’re wearing??!!
Here’s the fun stuff …
(In case you’re wondering – GT is me “Glitter & Toast”, I’ll let you guess who ML is!)
GT: You can choose 1 song that will play whenever you enter a room, for the rest of your life – kind of like your theme song. What’s your song?
ML: Barry White – My first, my last, my everything (see – there’s that Ally McBeal influence!) (GT: and might I add, Marc replied to this without any hesitation whatsoever!!)
GT: What would be the title of the story of your life and who would write it?
ML: “Happy” I’d write it myself, or I’d get someone who I really, really trust to write it – like Marianne Thamm!
GT: Who would play you in the movie of your life
ML: I’d love it if Charlize would make the time hey?!!
GT: Which superhero would you be?
ML: More like the anti-hero! I really like Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker – there’s just something about that, you know?
GT: So what is your superpower?
ML: “To make people laugh, no matter how crap things are at home.” (That’s a direct quote from Marc!)
GT: Where would you travel to in a time machine?
ML: Hmmmm, I’ve never actually thought about that. But I’d like to spend a couple of weeks on a space ship! And talking about travel, I love Zanzibar – it’s the ideal holiday destination. You do absolutely nothing. It’s completely laid back; the type of place where you read all of those books you’ve been putting off!
GT: Which 5 people (living or dead) would you like to have with you on your fantasy island?
ML: Whitney Houston – because I know all the words to every single one of her songs – but I wouldn’t sing along with her! (GT – Marc actually has a lovely voice and sings really well.)
Carol Burnett – because she’s so funny and will make everyone laugh
A Buddhist type of person (!!!!) (GT – we couldn’t think of a famous Buddhist type person!)
Chef Reuben Riffel
Oprah Winfrey – with daily pearls of wisdom!
Marc’s latest show #Hashtag Lottering is currently on at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square in Sandton, until 17 September. It’s a hilarious take on how social media has skewered our view on reality. Go and have a laugh and (as Marc says) forget how crap life is for a while!! GO AND SEE IT!
I firmly believe that Nataniël is a national treasure who should be nurtured and cherished like the priceless gem that he is!
After admiring him from afar for so long, I finally went to see him onstage in his previous show After Animals, and I was transported to another realm of Nataniël’s own creation. He is a true genius, and I was so thrilled when the show deservedly received numerous Naledi awards earlier this year, including awards for Best Costume Design, Best Score and Best Lighting.
So I’m pretty elated (actually that’s a bit of an understatement) that his much anticipated new show is opening in Johannesburg in the not too distant future, and that I’m able to bring you all the details right here, after receiving the press release earlier today …
Multitalented stalwart of the South African entertainment industry for over two decades, Nataniël is more than just a producer, director, designer, playwright, public speaker and performer – he is a true icon of stage and screen. Nataniël will return to the Theatre of Marcellus stage at Emperors Palace with a new stage production, MANNEQUIN, from 18 August to 25 September 2016. (There will be a week of previews from 18 August, with the show opening officially on 25 August and runs until 25 September 2016.)
The production tells the story of an author who toys with the idea of writing a book about the life of a reclusive tailor. MANNEQUIN is the story told by his tailor. A tale of surprise, fear, cruelty, humour, truth and fantasy. The show will not only feature original music, but also Nataniël’s surprise versions of a few of the world’s best known songs from the late sixties and the eighties.
Nataniël will share the stage with long-time fellow musicians Charl du Plessis (keyboards), Juan Oosthuizen (guitars), Werner Spies (bass), Hugo Radyn (drums) and favourite singers Nicolaas Swart and Dihan Slabbert. This show, structured around stories told in both English and Afrikaans, is about visual beauty and tailoring, and features an astounding collection of new costumes by the multi award-winning designer, Floris Louw.
MANNEQUINN, set to captivate audiences with its masterful blend of music, storytelling and breathtaking costumes, will be performed from Wednesdays to Saturdays at 20h00, and on Sunday afternoons at 15h00. Tickets start from R160 per person and can be booked through the Emperors Palace Box Office on 011 928 1297/1213, or by visiting www.emperorspalace.com or Computicket. Winners Circle members qualify for discount.
There is an age restriction of No Under 15’s and the show is 90 minutes in duration with no interval.
Emperors Palace is a Peermont resort. Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @emperorspalace.
Look at the awesome talent we have in our beautiful country!
Saturday 27 August at 7:30pm
The Mandela Stage @ Joburg Theatre
The Mzansi Youth Choir will be staging a glittering Annual Gala Concert taking place on The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre on Saturday 27 August at 7:30pm for one night only.
The Mzansi Youth Choir Annual Gala Concert 2016 is a FREE CONCERT which promises to be an exciting assortment of local and international music that will incorporate elements of traditional music, pop and jazz as uniquely performed by The Mzansi Youth Choir.
Mzansi’s exquisite youthful sound, sensational choreography, pulsating energy, buoyancy, vibrancy and devotion to South African music is an experience not to be missed.
This 90-minute concert will include all the favourite renditions they are known to perform with such flair including their popular Hugh Masekela Medley, Circle of Life, Homeless, Pata Pata and African Dream. They will also be performing their newly released single Say Africa for the first time.
Say Africa was made famous by Vusi Mahlasela, its positive lyrics inspired by Africa. The Mzansi Youth Choir likes to portray a true yet overwhelmingly positive story about their country and continent in their recordings. The song was recorded in Johannesburg and mixed in San Fransisco by Grammy Award winning acapella producer, Bill Hare. Bill has worked with top international acapella groups such as The Pentatonix and King Singers.
To download “Say Africa”:
Enjoy this video for a behind the scenes look at Mzansi Youth Choir:
Enjoy Mzansi Youth Choir’s hit “Africa Rise” video here (it gave me chills!):
The choir was established in July 2003 with the aim of affording talented, underprivileged teenagers and young adults (14-24 years) the opportunity to proficiently perform locally and abroad. The choir consists of 45 choristers from Soweto and other areas in and around Johannesburg. The word Mzansi means south in isiZulu and is also the township slang word for South Africa.
This concert is FREE to the public but advanced booking is essential as space is limited.
As to why the concert is FREE to the general public, Ralf Schmitt, Music Director of Mzansi Youth Choir explains; “The Mzansi Youth Choir would like to thank South Africa and more particularly the people of Johannesburg for their incredible support of the choir and there is no better way to do that than by giving them a FREE concert to enjoy. Over the past 13 years we have been able to provide countless young South Africans the opportunity to showcase and develop their talents on local and international stages. This concert also gives those that haven’t had the opportunity to see the choir perform before, to come along and join us and share in the magic”.
The theatre has a no-under-3-years-of-age policy to ensure the comfort of all patrons. The concert is 90 minutes with no interval.
The Mzansi Youth Choir Annual Gala Concert 2016 has been made possible through the generous support of AVBOB.
SUPREME DIVAS – Celebrating Fabulous Women of Song
Can you believe it’s August already?! Finally, that month where we celebrate strong, dynamic, successful, wonderful women! Well, we really should be honouring them all the time, and we do, but in August we really make a song and dance about it and where better to do that than on The Mandela stage at Joburg Theatre, where they’ll be doing it in spectacular fashion with Supreme Divas.
The show will run from Thursday 11 August to Sunday 14 August for four performances only.
Supreme Divas will delight audiences old and young as they celebrate the powerhouse female singers that have become legends through their music over the past few decades.
Homage is paid to “old school” divas including Etta James, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer and many others while younger audiences will relish the celebration of hits from “new school” divas including Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Adele and others. A fitting tribute will also be made to a few of South Africa’s own divas including Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Miriam Makeba and Claire Johnston.
Taking centre stage will be the insanely talented vocalists Tia Herman, Lelo Ramasimong, Tracey-Lee Oliver and Elizca Coetzer, with Born To Perform teenage sensation Marianthe Panas joining them as she makes her professional theatre debut.
Teen sensation Marianthe Panas has represented KwaZulu Natal in The SA Championships of the Performing Arts (twice), competed in The World Championships of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles and Hollywood, winning numerous awards in both championships – and all before she was her current age of 15.
In her hometown of Durban, she has performed at a number of events including The Durban Theatre Awards, Night of 100 Stars, The Durban Chamber of Commerce Gala Dinner, as well as with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra at The KZN Young Performers 2016 event.
In Johannesburg, she caught everyone’s attention with her showtopping performance in Born To Perform’s Gala Concert in July 2015 and again recently when she was one of the vocalists in the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra’s concert A Night With The Stars.
Supreme Divas marks her professional theatre debut.
I was particularly taken with the notion of a 15-year-old performer taking to the stage with such experienced artistes, and instantly wanted to chat to her, convinced that this absolutely had to be a Diva in the making; would she be over-confident, precocious and petulant? Surely you’d have to be to hold your own, taking to the stage with the combined experience of your fellow performers?
Unfortunately, due to time and distance constraints, we haven’t yet been able to meet, and had to manage with an email interview. I was immediately completely charmed by Marianthe’s evident maturity and level-headedness, 2 things that will most definitely stand her in good stead for the career that she clearly wishes to pursue.
Here’s my Q & A with Marianthe, and you’ll see what I mean (I’m the ‘J’, she’s the ‘M’ and some of my comments are added in her answers in brackets):
I’m really looking forward to meeting you, and to seeing the show, but in the meantime … a few questions (and no pressure J).
J: Take me through what would be a ‘normal’ day for you, when you’re not rehearsing for a show or a competition.
M: Well, I would be at school until 14h30. After that, I would either be attending hockey practice, dance, acting or singing classes. I’m part of the KZN Youth Choir & rehearsals are from 5 to 9pm every Friday.
J: So you’d already won numerous awards and performed and participated in competitions overseas before you were 15; do you feel like you’ve had to grow up a lot quicker than others who are the same age as you?
M: I haven’t actually thought about that. Well, I haven’t felt like that before. I’ve been singing from a very young age so I’ve grown up performing. I do feel as though I’ve matured faster than some girls in my grade, but I love doing what I do so there isn’t a case of feeling as though I need to grow up a lot quicker. I turned 15 in May & trust me… I act itJ
J: Who’s your biggest Diva inspiration and why?
M: Idina Menzel. She was the lead in the original cast of many musicals I grew up watching. She performs with so much passion & has an amazing vocal range. She has also stayed so humble. [In case you don’t know, Idina Menzel is the voice behind Frozen’s Queen Elsa. That’s right … Let It Go! And she’s just been cast as Bette Midler’s character CC Bloom in the TV remake of Beaches.]
J: And who inspires you most in the non-performing world?
M: My twin brother. He got a virus in his spine, which paralysed him from his waist down for about 3 months when we were 12 years old. Although, he can now walk – he is not 100% recovered. He has a dropped foot & needs to wear a brace on both feet. To this day, he has never complained or given up. That takes a lot of guts to do so I always look up to him for inspiration.
J: Give us a playlist of your all-time favourite top 5 songs/pieces of music – any and all genres?
M: Don’t Rain on my Parade – Barbara Streisand [One of my all-time favourites too!]
I knew you were trouble – Taylor Swift
Stone Cold – Demi Lavato
Bound to You – Christina Agulera
The Story of Us – Taylor Swift
J: Do you read? If so, what do you read?
M: I love reading mystery & fantasy. My all time favourite book series is Pretty Little Liars & the Mortal Intruments. (I’m kind of obsessed)
J: You’ve been given the opportunity to play the leading role in the movie of your choice … which movie do you choose, and which role? And (most important) who do you choose as your leading man and why?
M: I would pick The 5th Wave. I would play the role Cassie as she tries to find her missing brother in an alien apocalypse. [Yes, it’s Sci-Fi!] She is as a strong willpower and the love she has for her brother is never-ending. I would choose Chris Hemsworth – duh! [Like she said … a typical 15 year old!]
J: What do you have to say to our world leaders right now? (Don’t be shy!)
M: I’m not so clued up in politics, but I would say all leaders seem to think of themselves instead of their people. They get richer and the poor get poorer. [Darling, you think you’re not so clued up in politics, but you seem to have summed it all up in a nutshell right there … spot on!]
J: What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned so far from fellow performers?
M: STAY HUMBLE! Don’t act like a Diva or a know all. There’s always something to learn from someone else more experienced than you.
J: And finally … where would you like to be in 5 years’ time? (Sorry, I know it’s a really boring, clichéd question, but it has to be asked – there’s such a vast ocean of difference between 15 and 20!)
M: Hopefully studying Musical Theatre. My biggest dream in life is to perform on Broadway.
Isn’t she just so lovely and grounded? I can’t wait to meet Marianthe in person, and I really appreciate her taking some time out to answer my questions.
The Supreme Divas will be onstage along with a dynamic 9-piece band led by Music Director Llewellyn George. Audiences will thrill to instantly recognisable hits including R.E.S.P.E.C.T., Somewhere, If I could turn back time, I’m every woman, Hot Stuff, Stop in the Name of Love, Vulindlela, Valerie, Unqombothi, Do You Know where you’re going to, If I were a boy and many more.
This is the ultimate concert experience, honouring a selection of the many women who’ve made an indelible mark on the local and international music industry.
Joburg City Theatres will be producing the show. “We want to portray South African talent at its best,” says Claire Pacariz, Executive Producer for Joburg City Theatres. “And with Women’s Day on August 9th, we thought it would be an ideal time to honour legendary women in song.”
Performances for Supreme Divas run from Thursday to Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm on The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre.
For group bookings of 10 or more, please contact the theatre directly on (011) 877 6853/6815.
Supreme Divas is proudly brought to you by Joburg City Theatres in association with The CoLab Network and directed by Timothy Le Roux. Vocalists will be dressed by Hollywood Costumes.