Kurt Schoonraad On Getting Roasted, Stage Fright And Junk Food

The funny man's life advice is no joke.


Kieran Legg |

Meet Kurt Schoonraad

Kurt is an internationally acclaimed comic who has graced stages (and front pages) across the world. But his passion project lives in Cape Town – a comedy club he sold two of his favourite muscle cars to keep up and running. Don’t let life have the last laugh – this advice is your punchline.

My jokes always fall flat with my mates, and I usually end up getting roasted in the WhatsApp group chat. What am I doing wrong?

Your return timing is wrong. There’s no time to prepare. The secret is to have an answer prepared already, or at least one or two one-liners. Here’s a great response to anybody who challenges you: “You know what my grandmother always said: ‘Never get into an argument with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level, and then beat you with experience.’ You, my friend, have too much experience for me.”

I struggle with stage fright before big presentations or meetings. How do you boost your confidence before a big show?

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Stage fright is why not everyone cuts it as a stand-up comedian. Speaking to an audience takes practice; and the more experience you get, the easier it gets. I simply look at the audience to boost my confidence. I need to know who I’m playing to. Different audiences require different approaches, and to know in advance gives you the right head start.

I tried doing a bit of stand-up comedy at an open mic night, and I bombed. How do I get over the fear of hitting the stage and trying again?

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Stand-up comedy is like bungee jumping: it’s always harder the second time around. From there it gets easier, and you become accustomed to it – but dying on stage is probably one of the hardest things any of us go through. But there are two kinds of comics in the world: those who have died on stage before, and those who will die on stage. The sooner you embrace it the better. Dust yourself off, and get back on the horse.

What’s your creative process for coming up with new material?

New material happens to me. I am a comedy medium. The material channels through me, not from me. My material is the sum of all of my experiences.

You took a big gamble with the Cape Town Comedy Club. When did you know you’d struck gold?

Cape Town needed a home for comedy, and it gave me purpose other than moving to Johannesburg. I wanted something I could invest my time and energy in. As to how it happened? I had a great team of people who shared my dream, and who are as passionate about South African comedy as I am. There are many, many people who are working tirelessly on making the Comedy Club work. And of course the support of the audience, who believe in the product, love the brand, and keep coming back. As long as they’re coming back, we have to carry on.

What fitness advice keeps you going from slapstick to slap chips?

Stay away from the takeaway joints as much as possible. That’s possibly the only fitness advice you’ll ever hear from any comedian.

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