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Male matters have funnymen centre stage

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By Theresa Smith

THERE are many reasons to plan a comedy performance, ranging from monetary to experimentation, but Stuart Taylor and Kurt Schoonraad are quite ready to admit they just wanted an excuse to hang out backstage.

Working on a one-off comedy gig with Riaad Moosa and Conrad Koch in December, they were reminded of why they got started in the comedy business in the first place.

“We had a blast, it was good to be with guys who started out at the same time as us,” said Taylor. “We could chill backstage and talk s***.”

Way back in the day, Taylor attended the School of Magic with Moosa and Koch and, together with Schoonraad, all of them had a hand in starting the Cape Comedy Collective in the late 1990s (Schoonraad joined in 2000).

While Schoonraad and Taylor were the golden boys of the comedy circuit in the early Noughties, both eventually made the transition to television via Going Nowhere Slowly and Taylor has presented some successful theatre comedy shows, while Schoonraad has also been seen on the big screen and both regularly write for television and do stand-up comedy.

While they don’t go as far as finishing each other’s sentences, the two are clearly long-time friends with a similar sense of humour and when we meet they answer questions smoothly without interrupting each other.

When a slot opened on the Baxter’s programming they couldn’t exactly duplicate their nostalgic blast from the past since Moosa and Koch are working on their own productions. However wanting to work together on a project, they turned to Good Hope FM dj, Nigel Pierce.

Both have appeared on Pierce’s radio show, but this time director Heinreich Reisenhofer has helped them create something a little different with Men’s Issue.

Once they hit upon the idea of a magazine show format they did think about watching tv shows “for research purposes only” according to Schoonraad, but that didn’t quite work.

“I find magazine shows occasionally interesting in terms of the subject matter, or maybe a specific guest, but it seems very self- indulgent and superficial,” said Schoonraad.

Having said that, both comics are big fans of watching the Twitterverse when a particular local magazine programme airs, since one of their friends tweets a particularly amusing, and biting, running commentary that keeps them in stitches.

In the Men’s Issue show all three guys play the hosts and the guests and there are different skits in which they discuss what they like to think of as “guys’ matters”.

“And they’ll be funny… we hope,” Schoonraad rolls his eyes.

For Pierce there’ll be more structure, but Reisenhofer has left more blank spaces for Schoonraad and Taylor to fill as they see fit.

Schoonraad explains the show: “It’s a lot like doing film, but you only get one take… with immediate feedback.”

Working overseas has taught them how much of their comedy routines are influenced by US and UK television because of the references they will work into their routines. Humour travels, all you need to do is provide context.

“The global village has gained a global culture,” said Schoonraad.

Also, Taylor thinks South African comedians are much more adaptable: “We’re kind of used to changing up the references when you take shows between cities.”

Ultimately, they agree, their experience has shown that audiences respond best to honesty, so it helps when their stories contain a grain of truth.

So, just who exactly owns the hair dryer and who waxes as a matter of course? That’ll come out at the Baxter since they wanted to keep the show personal and use their personalities.

“And who is the true metro-sexual?” I ask.

“Yes, it’s a partly industry- created concept,” says Taylor. “But, you can’t wear make-up for a tv show and not learn to moisturise. Make-up is such a part of being an entertainer.”

Grooming is a big topic that will be discussed in Men’s Issue, but the two will leave it up to Pierce to provide the detail. “That’s going to be an interview with Nigel, finding out about his regimen.”

“For us it was just interesting to find out about waxing your nether region. Why you’d resort to doing it. I think this will be the first time that nether regions will be discussed in this way at the Baxter,” said Taylor.

Hence the show’s no persons under-13 age restriction.

• Men’s Issue plays at The Baxter Theatre until February 23 at 8pm. Tickets R65 to R120 at Computicket.

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