Before we go here, allow us to state a quick disclaimer at the start of this particular #DigitLabSpotlight.

You don’t get to be a good comedian by being afraid of honesty. This brilliant man has definitely taken this to heart. Just remember that before we hand the reigns of this post over to Dusty.

With his comedic start in Durban, this now Johannesburg-based wordsmith has a way of cutting through the red tape of current topics and lifestyles in a way that both takes your breath away a bit, while bringing it back in the form of a laugh.

Enjoy! And don’t say we didn’t warn you…

Dusty Rich upside down

1. Tell us about your first comedy gig?

It was a dark and stormy night…At least that’s what it felt like in my head. The scene, a small basement club in Umbilo, which by day could have been a meth cook room but by night it was worse. The stench of teenage angst and sweat clung to the low ceiling like depressed bats. It was a rock club, about as big as a large SUV, it had any matter of off the wall rock kids trying their blistered hand at some sort of fame and fortune, whatever that means. So was I.
I had seen what live stand-up comedy was for the first time a few weeks earlier and approached one of the comedians, like a child who just saw someone else eat ice cream asking for my turn. He pointed me to this open mike, the only one at all in Durban, a lonely confused misfit of a comedy club thing that beckoned me like an old guy in a van parked outside a playground. I prepared. I didn’t know what that was, I had seen my heroes, Connolly, Pryor, Cook etc and alike do this thing but to be faced with it so physically with no TV screen to protect you is another thing all together. They say public speaking is the number one fear, before death…people fear speaking publicly over getting mauled by a spider shark bear mutant. That’s very stupid. But it’s what I felt then. But as with everything in my life, I ignored self-preservation and social normality and dived in as if I had been afraid of the dark water but then glimpsed some treasure and without a second thought made my way to the depths like a man possessed.

Standing in front of strangers spewing things is easy, trying out the formula of setup and punch line is simple and robotic. You might as well have studied accountancy. Connecting with strangers that have their own complicated, messy lives is what stand-up comedy is. I tried to do that from the beginning because that’s what I use it for. Copping. Humour is a valve on the pressure cooker that is the human condition. So that’s how I approached it. I stood up, in these ridiculously short shorts, as I believed that if what I said wasn’t funny at least my gangly legs would steal some laughs. I stood up and told them about myself. They laughed. I fell in love.

Dusty Rich stand up

2. Would your 10 year old self be surprised at where you are today? Why?

I think my 10 year old self would be more preoccupied by the fact that we invented time travel. That would be way more exciting than reaching your minute-in-comparison stand-up comedy dreams. We could do anything!

I always knew I was supposed to do something like this. Whatever this is. I still don’t know. I perform almost every day, get acting work, write scripts, and navigate social media like a beggar looking for likes on an online corner. Get paid. Perform all over the country and world. But I’m navigating life just like the rest of us. I think the ten year old me had a very narrow perspective of what it would to be cool. I think at that stage if I was 30 with a cool bicycle, a surfboard and video games the 20 years in between would have been worth it.

 

3. Take us through your average day?

I wake up and check social media just to make sure other humans have lives and I’m not living in the Truman show, but also because it’s convenient to check if I received any likes, retweets or whatever validation I need to be a human in 2015. Drink a cup of coffee. Instagram a picture of how I look when I wake up accompanied by a famous quote that I add onto and F up, ie #Wakeupface motivation: “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” “Or just use rohypnol!” – Bill Cosby & Dusty Rich.

Then I shower my body, then I shower my mind. I meditate for a half hour clearing my mind of the muck I accumulated in the previous 24 hours.

Plan my day using all my wonderful technology. Dusty Rich comedy

Write, email, draw, write, email, call someone about something, email, write, email. Somewhere in there I eat, spilling crumbs all over my laptop keyboard.

I box every other day.

Go to a comedy club somewhere and perform like my life depended on it. Because it does.

 

4. What does your content creation process typically look like?

I write or draw something down on a laptop, piece of paper, someone I’m near, anything. Then I berate myself for being useless and not creative and overall waste of the miracle that is life. Then I step out of my girl child pants. Wipe my tears and get to work on the idea. My brain then takes over and messes everything up. Wrangling my thoughts is like throwing a rope around a pissed off alligator, snapping at everything. I’ve almost lost a few good ideas to that gaping hole I call a thought process.

Once everything calms down, I get past the first few phases then it starts flowing like gravy. Half the creative battle is getting over the hump that is your own thoughts and letting go a little. Then a whole lot. Then editing it all.

 

5. If you had to pick one highlight from your career so far, what would it be and why?

Today. Now this is going to come across as super cheese bull shit but I don’t try and focus on successes as if they’re a quick photo to put up on your self-gratification wall. I’ve had moments that I think are cooler than others but my philosophy is of a creative productive lifestyle rather than a consumption based existence. Devouring our memories and losing sight of the fact that a highlight is exclusive and you can have a highlight right now. I just did. Oooooh it’s so warm.

But without being a self-absorbed pretentious a-hole I think one of my best moments is when these two small kids, maybe 6 years old, came up to me in an airport and did a similar stretch gesture to what I do on stage and call me by my name excitedly. Another moment was when I received my first hate, it was a big moment for me and for any artist. It means more than your friends and family are seeing your stuff. A broader market. Not the pandering masses but critical acclaim from internet trolls. Ooooh so warm.

 

Dusty Rich professional comedian6. Which is your favourite social platform?

It used to be twitter. Twitter still has its pros, the speed of information is phenomenal. Our desperate need to be on the cutting edge is satiated by such a beautifully ego-centric speed machine. I prefer Instagram now, I follow a lot of very cool instagrammers that produce some very cool things, It inspires me to get off my ass and do the same.

Vine is also amazing the creativity coming off that platform is intimidating but brilliant.

Facebook is a steam pile. No one likes it, it’s a treasure trove of hatred, racism and social anxiety on a level un-rivaled. But I use it every day.

 

7. Which do you prefer – live performances, or recorded content? And why?

Live! Any day of the week. The energy is what I work off of. The give and take is tangible. An audience that enjoys themselves creates a comedian that excels and vice versa.

Recorded work is also amazing, a few people in the room laughing is all I need. I also let the voices in my head run free to help with the numbers.

 

8. Tell us about the subject you draw the most inspiration from?

Honesty. We have so many masks, with so many versions. We hide behind keyboards like they’re bullet proof. We use star signs as instructions. Honesty is relative but it’s been relegated by bravado, consumption and perception. I like to look through it and see who or what is back there. Behind it all. Then hold up a mirror. I also know and hold dear that I’m different but the same as everyone.

Dusty Rich Different

9. What’s different?

I am.

 

10. What would be your ultimate job description?

Comedian, Writer, Actor, Artist and Creator

 

 

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