A conversation with Simon James Carter
He is young, he is funny and he is on a highway to realising his dream. Simon Carter has already started making noise in the Durban stand up comedy scene and is building up quite a rep for getting crowds roaring. We decided to catch up with him and chat about his passion and favourite pass time:
1) I see you have been entertaining the Durban crowd for about a year. How long have you been doing stand up?
I started doing comedy over a year ago, I was fresh on the scene and did as many open mics nights as I could and I made the final heat of Durban New Act comp, but when I got up on stage I fluffed my material and ran off stage crashing into the comics table and made a mess of the whole thing. I had a few friends watching me that night so naturally I felt really stupid so I went off comedy for a while. After doing my best man speech at my mates wedding and hearing the laughter from the wedding guest I decided it was time to get back on stage, that’s when one of my comedy friends helped me out and together we wrote a new set and I’ve been on stage since.
2) What made you decide to express yourself through stand up comedy?
I’ve always been a funny person with a wicked sense of humour. I’m always the one with the jokes at parties and I was the class clown at school. I’ve also been obsessed with watching stand up comedy so doing stand up comedy was something I had to do. I did theatre in school and was always type-cast as the comic characters, so stand up was the next step and I find it easy to express myself on stage, there’s no better platform to express your quirks than on stage with a mic and an open audience.
3) I see you have been to England. Many people view English comedy as perhaps the best in the world. What would you say makes the English as funny as they are?
I can’t put my finger on it but I do have a few theories as to why the English are so good at comedy, firstly they’ve been doing it a lot longer and have had some great inspiration, but there is also a feeling of liberalism unique to the UK. You can be anyone and do anything and people will accept you. in fact individuality is encouraged, so when the lads of Monty Python were writing skits that sometimes seemed nonsensical or daft they got away with it because people were like “hey, they are doing something unique and that makes it cool” now we look back at them and think they are a genius. so all the above and well the English just have a wicked sense of humor and taking the piss is part of their daily lives. coping mechanisms and what not. do know what I mean?
4) What would you say are the unique qualities of South African humour compared to English humour?
Without coming off sounding like a racist twat, South African comedy is pretty much based on blacks vs whites vs Indians and then some coloured thrown into the mix too. “hey have you ever noticed how black people talk in a different way to how us white people talk?” – every comic ever. Where as the English have loads to moan about. Its actually a natural pass time to moan. They moan about the transport system, they moan about traffic, they moan about tax and of course they love to moan about whoever is in charge so I guess their comedy is more political if anything.
5) What is you best memory as a stand up comedian?
My first gig is high up there, I performed in a small venue but the crowd were good and I had them laughing in the right places so I felt good.
6) What was the one gig that you remember that might not have gone quite how you planned?
A friend of mine came to watch one of my gigs and I wanted to impress him, but none of my jokes hit, my energy was down and I wasn’t feeling my material and the audience picked up on this so essentially I bombed, and I bombed hard, even my go to jokes weren’t hitting, it’s a shit feeling. because in comedy you know whether the crowd likes you right off the first punch line and when it doesn’t hit its often hard to pull them back.
7) You have worked with a number of comedians, either opening for them or doing skits. Who were favourite comedians to work with and why?
Locally I’ve shared the stage with all of Durban’s comedians and each comic is unique and has their own brand of gags, I take inspiration from all of them and we are all rooting for each other to do well, so I’m often offered help. I’ve also shared the stage with one or two ‘big’ South African comics which is just a nice sort of way to vindicate your presence in the game. But if I had to chose who to work with in terms of skits id say Glen Bo, we wrote a skit together and performed it and it was received well. I’d actually like to reprieve that. but as far as comedy goes I love sharing the stage with Dusty Rich, he has a natural charm and allure about him the creates and electricity on stage that sets up any comedian.
8) Who is you all-time favourite comedian? What about them appeals to you?
I cant pick one, that’s like asking Micheal Shumaecar what his all time favourite car is, ok well maybe not Michael, more Olivier Panis (who is that? I dunno) (he’s Italian, he was a shit driver) (I’m talking to myself) (shut up) sorry where was I? ok well if I am going to go with one comedian then a combo of Jimmy Car and Mitch Hedberg. I like these dudes cos their comedy is one liners, they set the joke up and deliver the punch line, for some strange reason I don’t like when comedians just tell stories with funny elements in it. You have to be really good at that, someone like Billy Connolly can pull it off though.
9) Can you imagine doing anything else but comedy?
10) What is in store for Simon Carter in the distant future?
Setting up myself as regular comic in the UK and writing my one man show which I’d like to have out in the next 3 years.