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!