Dusty Rich

For those of you who don’t know, Dusty Rich loves to talk. A lot. But that’s cool, ’cause that’s his job, and he does it pretty damn well. We put ourselves in the firing line of his verbal machine gun, and this is what happened.

Photo: Russell Grant



DIY: Dusty, tell us a bit about how you got to be where you are now… from the beginning… like, from when you were a baby.


Dusty: Born to a pair of gypsy fortune tellers in 1985 I travelled with a circus for the first few years of my life as the only acrobat toddler who could shoot a shit out like a cannon. They called me the amazing baby green pooh the incredible, I’m sure you’ve heard of me. Anyways… went to junior school in Toti – seemed a natural progression from the circus. My parents divorced and married a couple times and subsequently moved around for a bit; couple high-schools, lots of detention. My dad always said that was fine ‘cause he was getting his money’s worth (dick). I visited the United Kingdom after high-school, also attending some drug fuelled stupors, as you do.  Got back from England with a permanent reminder, a tattoo which was the start of a love that is only really skin deep. How clever. Started tattooing soon after that, practising on car guards and anyone wanting a free tattoo, which is pretty much everyone. Got good at it quick. I found comedy after I saw a comedy show. Being in theatre during school and after I was cool with being on stage.  I gave it a go, I was shitting my pants, but once you get that first laugh, it’s sort of a natural thing that takes over. I’ve been fucking around ever since. It’s a beautiful dirty thing. Now I spend my days tattooing, doing some art things and watching people and myself so I can talk about it at night. I miss the circus though. The rest you’ll have to read in my book coming out when I’m conceited enough to fill it with self praise and masturbation with words, coming soon!


DIY: This blog is about Durban. What’s the best and worst part about living here for you?


Dusty: I’ve been around like a dirty girl’s underwear so I’ve seen quite a bit: London, Jozi, The Cape… all of them are some spunky cities but there is nothing quite like Durbz. It’s not the place geographically speaking but more the vibe, which should be the by line to this city: The Vibe! In fact I copyright that right now. The vibe cannot be explained but rather experienced, kind of like a good hallucinogenic. Things like DIY do a good job of explaining the Vibe though, so thank you. Durban on the other hand is complacent and very apathetic – frustratingly so. The people don’t support as much as the other cities. That’s why you see a lot of the artists set off for the big city lights of Jozi and The Cape. We don’t want to leave but being home doesn’t necessarily pay the bills. Hopefully initiatives and ideas such as DIY and Zero31 spread the vibe and get bums in the seats and we turn this city into the creative mecca it should be. We need more opportunities but that shit doesn’t just fall in your lap.


DIY: You’ve been around the country a bit with your comedy, most recently to the Grahamstown Fest. How was that?


Dusty: Yeah I absolutely love the travelling. Getting away makes you appreciate home. Grahamstown was good, colder than an Eskimo’s scorn, but good. Got to see how show production, one-man shows and the arts industry operate. Also chilling with other comedians is invaluable to developing as a comedian. Got to get those “who you knows” sorted. The bonus is a whole bunch of them are down-right decent folks, I’m fortunate to be a part of a fraternity of artists who take the piss out of life and love doing it as much as I do. The shows were far better than expected with near capacity shows for the underdogs that we were. Huge success. I’ll be going again.


DIY: How does the standard of comedy in Durban compare with other cities?


Dusty: Comedy here is a strange beast. As far as quality goes we have a tougher job here: We’ve got to work harder to get audiences, and as hard to make those few people laugh their asses off, so the standard has to be good. Jozi and The Cape have far more shows, so comedians are going to get a ton of stage time, which is the only great practice. So as far as comparison is concerned, we can hang with any comedians and get the audiences laughing as well as any around the country.


DIY: What you do seems quite terrifying to me: Being one-on-one with sometimes hostile audiences who’ve paid good money to have you make them laugh. Do you ever think about it like that? Do you think it requires a special kind of person to do comedy? One with a fairly thick skin, perhaps?


Dusty: I sometimes battle with this question as to what kind of qualities one requires to be a comedian, because in all honesty I have no clue why I love this or how I can do this. A lot of comedians stress their veins to the surface about getting up there and “performing”. I simply don’t. Of course there’s this little nervous tension that boils about in the pit of the stomach but I used to recognise it as fear where as now it’s simply a “wake the fuck up you’re entertaining now”. A thick skin is a bonus but comedians will tell you insecurity is the fuel that feeds the comedy. It does kind of the same thing with me except I also don’t care what people think. That’s why most of my comedy is about me and embarrassing or awkward things that happen to me. I genuinely want to know what you thought of my masturbation mishaps or any other ridiculous situations I get myself into. As for the person you need to be a) get over your fears and speak freely or b) don’t have any fears to begin with, I am the latter; I was not born with an embarrassment meter.

we can hang with any comedians and get the audiences laughing as well as any around the country


Photo: Russell Grant


DIY: Speaking of skin, you are also a tattoo artist. How long have you been doing that?


Dusty: I’ve been tattooing for 4/5 years now. It’s my day job that I want to turn into a hobby soon. I work with my lovely lady Nicole at I Art Ink Tattoo Studio. She’s my boss and I’m sleeping with the boss – oooh! how taboo.


DIY: Is there a connection, for you, between tattoo art and comedy?


Dusty: The connection is creativity. That’s my favourite thing to do: create. Sometimes the creation starts on paper and gets put onto skin and other times through a mic to sex your ear holes.


DIY: What I find quite interesting about comedy is the often seedy lifestyle which accompanies it. Comedians move in the same circles as struggling musicians. You have gigs in dingy bars, you swear a lot, drink a lot, and lead a decidedly bohemian/deviant lifestyle. There’s an intriguing tension between what you do – make people laugh – which is quite light hearted, and the sometimes dark places from which it comes. Do you find that a lot of your material stems from the harder times in your life?


Dusty:  Every word that comes out of my mouth comes from a dirty little place I call my brain. It’s like the damp corner of an alleyway that has big, yellow, banana graffiti on the wall. My material stems from things that were not good back in the day, but also from things that are not good today. That’s kind of our job as far as I’m concerned. We’re like society’s filters: we take the bad, sad, disturbing, and slap a bit of humour on and feed it to folks who then laugh, and that horrible thing is now easier to deal with. As far as being seedy, how dare you sir! I’ll have you know I eat Muesli every morning, which I buy from Woolworths right after I have had my morning rum at the dirtiest cockroach den possible!


DIY: Well, now,  it’s not all quarts and cockroaches for you guys; you’re sometimes asked to break ice for the moneyed classes, in places like Vacca Matta and Czar. Does your strategy change moving from somewhere like the Winston, to one of these more ‘refined’ establishments?


Dusty: I’m a true believer in comedy as a universal language; it’s just the reaction to it that differs. Fart jokes are funny period. It’s just that some assholes think they are too good for it, so their reaction will be measured often by their social standing. I guarantee late at night in their ten-foot-walled Umhlanga mansions they’re farting on each other, laughing their collective asses off (or so I imagine). As far as changing for different venues and demographics: not an ice-lollie’s chance in hell. That’s kind of why I don’t do as well in front of buttoned- down corporate assholes; ‘cause I refuse to change. I didn’t get into comedy to change, I got into it to tell people how I do things as kind of a live on stage disturbed little reality show. The other way is often just as bad as a place like the Winston, where getting shit faced is the culture. Comedy isn’t funny if you can’t hear it because drunken shouting drowns out the gags and jokes.


DIY: You recently moved your tattoo shop across town, from Umhlanga to Morningside. Which is radder (Umhlanga or Morningside I mean)?


Dusty: By far Morningside. Fuck Umhlanga, those dicks can suck it. Joking Umhlanga, I don’t know you as a whole. I’m sure you’re alright.


DIY: Do you ever feel like giving up in Durban? A place where the mere whiff of drizzle means attendance at a show is a quarter of what it should be, and the chances of sustaining yourself financially with comedy are slim. What keeps you from throwing in the towel and becoming an accountant?


Dusty: You have to be realistic, I don’t care what anyone tells you money is important. Show me someone who says different and I’ll show you a liar. I do love this. I put my all into it, so there’s nothing left in me to go and work in the coal mines to earn some food, rent and electricity money. I think about moving every time a gig is attended by 10 people, cancelled or I can’t even make petrol money to get to the next shitty cancelled gig.  Then I wake up next morning and I’m waking up in Durban and I forget all about it. We are shit at going to gigs and supporting. We can’t afford umbrellas let alone R30 entrance. I don’t believe moving is going to fix Durban; I’d rather be a part of the solution and get these fucks to the shows. I think the whole emphasis on a lifestyle and not on money here in Durban is sometimes taken too far. I experience it in the tattoo and design field: there are too many friends passing around favours. We can’t pay rent with favours. Besides I’d be a crap accountant.

I guarantee late at night in their ten-foot-walled Umhlanga mansions they’re farting on each other, laughing their collective asses off

DIY: If you could do one thing to change Durban comedy for the better, what would it be?


Dusty: There is a lot of work and a lot of things that would change it, but if I had to do one thing it would be third party management of comedy here – someone to take the reins and steer it, fight for the gigs and the venue owners, get the cash flowing; make comedy a viable career option. This person or group needs to be close, but not a comedian; someone who backs comedy. Venues also need to start waking up as far as payment is concerned. We know you’re loving the bar take on an otherwise empty night, so back the shows with some marketing at the venue. The comedy scene is evolving despite everything, though. It’s an organic thing that grows anyway. These are the days we all write about in memoirs and biographies; the days we struggled. So maybe we should just fuck it and deal with it, the strong will survive the weak will fall away and become middle-aged husbands and mothers, rehab regulars or worse, spur waiters.


DIY: Do you ever practice jokes on tattoo clients?


Dusty: yeah all the time, it’s a good added service; you would have to pay like R30(!) for that at a club. I should be charging extra.


DIY: Tell us your worst heckling experience. What’s your strategy for dealing with audience members who seem to think their name was on the flyer?


Dusty: I’ve had a couple but I kind of enjoy it. It’s not an all together bad thing for me. Most times the dickhead will hang himself with retarded statements and ramblings, which gives me a bit of spare material up there, just pointing out what a fuck-tard he/she is. Other times the interaction has hilarious consequences: often someone has said something genuinely funny and I’ll just fall down laughing. I’m not too serious about all that. I’m quite interactive and often instigate the heckling. One thing I do hate is complaining to me after the set; that pisses me off. I offended someone or made fun of another… I’m a fucking comedian! There have been a few times where I’ve got into a fist fight with the guy ‘cause he’s an ignorant asshole. I’ll fight at the drop of a hat, but ignorance is my red flag. You come to a comedy show to have a good time, but your mediocre, cubicle-bee-hive, wife-cheating, kids-hate-you life gets you offended, and you come over to tell me how your thick skinned, balding, sweaty, drunk ass was offended, I will lay you out. Come and tell me you had a good time or fuck off and blog about it! Our audiences have no idea how a comedy shows work sometimes.


DIY: What does the future hold for Dusty Rich? Any shows coming up or exciting new endeavours?


Dusty: Yeah lots of things in the pipeline, off to Cape Town this week for a couple shows; radio interview that side; my Tight Rope Show at Unit 11 on the 10th of Aug; some script writing on some projects; 24th August some Musical comedy at Unit 11; regular shows end of the month (check facebook for that shit); Art exhibition in September; some festivals in October; another Cape tour and Jozi tour before the Dec rush; Tattooing, designing for a fight company clothing label; loving my lady. A little secret for you I’m developing a show that will blow your minds out the back of your head.


DIY: Thanks for your time. Any last words or thank yous?


Dusty: Thanks to you dudes for loving Durbz the way I do, you’re doing great work. Thanks to my Lady Nicole my rock, my love, my vagina. Thanks to those dudes and ladies that come out to the shows you’re legends and I love you like a teenager falls in love with his first prostitute. Thank you to Dirtbin you decadent beauty, you beautiful temptress, you complicated salty muse I love you. Fuck you Umhlanga, I’m Dusty Rich Goodnight!



8 Responses to “Dusty Rich”
  1. MegB says:

    Dusty Rich, you are a legend in making!!

    Stay the true artist you were born to be!!!

  2. Anonymoose says:

    Mr. Rich does my tattoos for me cos I can’t do them myself. He makes me look kiff and you should look kiff too, go to I art ink and get some body drawings from dusty and/or nicole. They’re some of the best in the Bizz and easy on the eyes too 😉

  3. Timo says:

    All I can say is you made it happen enjoy !

  4. Jonas says:

    When I have a kid one day i’ll name the little person Dusty’s-cooler-than-you.

    Just so he know’s never to know his place right from the get-go.

    Dusty you are like a morning glory, a constantly surprising find..everytime.

    Fly the flag yo

  5. Pascal says:

    Rad interview! Durban is Dusty’s!! 🙂

  6. BlueskiPalooski says:

    “Dusty: By far Morningside. Fuck Umhlanga, those dicks can suck it”..great interview, great line

  7. Dusty Rich says:

    Hey thanking you for all those lovely sexy words, they have caused my trousers to get spontaneously smaller, you are all far too kind, you’re right!, but you’re also kind.

    I love Durban, and Durban is Yours and its also ours so lets share it like a good STD, tell your friends about this blog its the lovely!

  8. Tea Bags says:

    Aweh! Nice work Dusty!! Nice to see you keeping it positive like a bunch of aids patients. You can be Durbans mascott. Imagine a giant inflatable Dusty Rich hovering above Tolgate Bridge screaming “Welcome to Durban”.

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