A talented local actor, author, comic and activist, Pieter-Dirk Uys has been in the spotlight for over 50 years. We caught up with him before the return of his smash-hit show, An Audience with Pieter-Dirk EISH, to talk theatre, comedy, and politics.
What do you love most about being on stage?
The stage has been my home for more than 50 years. I’ve performed more than 7 000 times, and each performance has been unique – with its own audience, energy and excitement about being live. For me, a theatre is the safest place in the world.
What’s your routine before you perform?
I arrive about two hours before the show starts, just so I can sit in the dressing room, listen to music, and focus my mind. Sometimes I even start planning my next show.
Who are some of your favourite people to impersonate?
Evita Bezuidenhout is obviously one of my favourite characters. She’s absolutely devoid of a sense of humour and irony, which means she’s completely family-friendly. I also love doing dear Desmond Tutu, and Jacob Zuma – in or out of the shower.
Do you ever get asked to tell jokes?
I don’t tell jokes – I wish I could remember them. I have to tell the truth, and sometimes the truth can be horribly funny.
How do you make sure your satire isn’t misunderstood?
Cartoons in the media help me anchor my material so that I focus on an area the audience would have already formed an opinion about. I hope to offend everyone, but not all the time – that’s too exhausting! So, I stick to equal opportunity satire, where every person and every political party has a chance to be got at.
What do you think makes your show so popular?
We aren’t so happy at the moment – either with our finances or our politics. This means people want to laugh, especially at the things they’re frightened of, or the people they blame for bad news. I try to keep a balance of 49% anger and 51% entertainment, and that seems to work. My audiences have been very receptive, and I do selfies with them in the foyer after the show to get feedback.
An Audience with Pieter-Dirk EISH is on at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre and Studio from 8 September to 4 October, and at the Theatre on the Bay from 3 to 28 November. For more information, visit computicket.com