Tracy Klass is a class act. I promise I’ll stop talking like that. The veteran comedienne, who has performed as part of the Cape Comedy Collective as well as alongside Mel Jones, has quite a following in Cape Town. But next month, she takes her debut one-woman show, Klass Struggle, to Joburg. She spoke to Helen Herimbi.
How are you? What have you been up to?
Good. I’ve just been performing at clubs in Cape Town. That’s really how you rehearse stand-up comedy, I think. It is actually impossible not to do it that way. And while I’ve been rehearsing there could be people watching going: “Thank God that’s not my mother”, or “Oh my God, that is just like my mother”, or “That’s me!” I make my kids (18-year-old twin boys and a 21 year-old daughter) cringe sometimes, but they are actually quite proud of me.
Tell me about Klass Struggle?
The material is different. It’s a 50-year-old woman talking about her trials and tribulations. It’s taken me 13 years to actually get up on stage and do my own show. The show is about a single parent with three kids trying to age disgracefully, dealing with more months at the end of the money. It’s like watching your mom’s life. You know what? My favourite reaction is when I’m on stage and I see men in the audience look over at their wives and say: “You do that!” Women have the same issues no matter what their race or culture. We all worry if our bums look big in these jeans.
But what does “ageing disgracefully” mean?
I’ve been fighting it, hey! And it came. I was so sad when I never went to MCQP (Mother City Queer Project) this year. It’s was 10.30pm and I was SMS-ing my friends like: “We should’ve been there.” It’s about knowing that there are just certain things I can’t wear and certain places I just can’t go to anymore. If you and your daughter wear the same size clothes then one of you is wearing the wrong thing.
What was having Riaad Moosa direct your first one-woman show like?
I love working with Riaad. It was intense. He really makes you look at your soul. Stand-up is about absolute honesty.
You and Riaad were a part of the Cape Comedy Collective (CCC)…
Yeah, I met all of those guys before they were married, or had kids. Loyiso (Gola) was in Grade 11! Sam Pearce and Mark Sampson started the CCC and they put an ad in the paper that said: “Do you think you’re funny?” It was 1998 and my life was falling apart so I’d just moved back to Cape Town. You can get so caught up in family things. But there I was, at 37 with three kids, and I was doing stand-up.
You’re one of the funniest comediennes in the country, but do you think that in 2012 people should still be asking where the female comics are?
Yes. Women take it harder. Guys just don’t suffer the same level of angst we do. Men deal with stress better. You have to remember that stand-up is frighteningly honest and if people don’t like your material, then they don’t like you. Stuart Taylor said it best: Men get on stage and they are funny. Women get on stage and have to prove they are funny. But I always like a bill that is nice and balanced. The one-woman show is about taking people on a journey and keeping them engaged.”