Theatre

Splitting asides with Riaad

Faeeza Ballim

The funnyman with a medical background has his professional and family life all sewn up.

Material man: Riaad Moosa

Riaad Moosa has come a long, witty way from the lanky young medical graduate who burst on to the comedy scene and our small screens in the short-lived SABC1 Pure Monate Show. Now 35, he’s the famous Muslim funnyman with a string of sold-out stand-up shows and a box-office hit movie, Material. In a flashback to his medical roots, Moosa will be the “comedy doctor” host of Keeping You in Stitches next weekend.

Why did you decide to do Keeping You in Stitches?
This is a big fundraising show. The proceeds go to the University of Cape Town department of family medicine. My father is involved in the Rondebosch Medical Centre and he persuaded me to take part, but I think it’s an elaborate ploy to get me back into medicine.

Why do you think Material ­travelled so well?
The film has a strong dramatic element and a universal storyline. We watched it in South Korea and the audience laughed at the right moments and cried at the right moments. They didn’t get the subtle jokes, though. You can imagine watching it in Korean — you see Joey Rasdien on the screen with Korean subtitles.

What else are you working on?
Material is still carrying on. We are going to international film festivals — the Busan International Film Festival in Seoul, the BFI London Film Festival, the Asian Film Festival in Goa. I am also going to play Ahmed Kathrada in an adaptation of Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom.

If you could be a politician, who would it be?
I would say Ahmed Kathrada because he is the epitome of humility. He was sent to Robben Island when he was 34, and I was 34 when I started the movie project. And he only got out when he was 60. I asked him what he felt when he was sentenced and he said: “I remembered a Chinese proverb that went ‘I grumbled because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet’. I think the movie, if it is true to the book, will open many eyes to the struggle people fought, which we have forgotten now.

Are you a Johannesburg or Cape Town man?
I live in Cape Town but I have Jo’burg tendencies. I love the vibrancy of Jo’burg. When I’m there, I go to Mint Road in Fordsburg to feed my face. I used to go to Melville when there was comedy there. I also go to Parkhurst, Parker’s Comedy and Jive and Comedy Central. In Cape Town, I mainly go to where my kids want to go, like the Aquarium, Kirstenbosch Gardens, playgrounds and the beach.

What is your favourite comedy?
The film Oscar [starring Sylvester Stallone]. I thought it was hilarious when I was younger, but I don’t know if I’d laugh at it so much now. But I remember guffawing at it. Now, I love all sorts of comedies.

What music are you playing in your car?
The Greatest Hits of Barney the Dinosaur and nursery rhyme collections. The kids dominate everything. Even the TV. When I try to watch CSI, I end up watching Mickey Mouse Club.

What are you reading?
I mainly read the news, but I’m now reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and Kathrada’s memoirs.

What is your favourite food?
Olives and chicken. You know, KFC has a chicken salad and they’re tricking me into thinking its healthy. It’s like someone wearing sandals with socks — it should be one or the other.

Keeping You in Stitches will be presented by the Rondebosch Medical Centre and features Riaad Moosa, Stuart Taylor, Conrad Koch, Kurt Schoonraad and others. It takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on November 17 at 8pm

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