By Deva Lee
Recognised as one of the faces of South African comedy, Barry Hilton still fills any room with his presence despite having been on the scene for 23 years. His hair might be greying but his career is definitely at its peak. His success lies in his love for South African people and their idiosyncrasies. “I talk about life,” he says as he explains how his own experience has given him most of his material. Hilton was born in Zimbabwe but his family left in his early years, “My first words were ‘sell the farm!’” he jokes.
Now he just likes to “talk kak”, as he calls it. Hilton’s shows are all unrehearsed, and he says he still gets nervous. “I think it’s when that feeling doesn’t happen, then I’ve gotta give up” he says. “I’ve got about 20 or 30 hours [of material] in my head so I’ll start with what happens as I walk on stage,” he explains, “a lot of the time I have no idea what I’m gonna talk about.” Hilton paid G-town a visit during O-Week, performing to a packed crowd at the Union, and needless to say all Rhodents were left canning themselves.
The ‘main oke’ is a comic by night and father by day, as Hilton has five children. Three years ago he made the move from Joburg to PE and is enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Hilton runs a project called Barry Hilton’s laughter factory, and plans to hold comedy workshops in Grahamstown in the near future. The workshops will be held in the Great Hall and participants will learn to write their own material, which they will perform themselves in a show at the end of the workshop.