Dalin Oliver: Stage a happy place

Relative newcomer to the comedy scene, Dalin Oliver, put on a stellar performance in Finders Keepers, the hit local film released last month.

Maynard Kraak (director and producer) met Oliver in 2014 at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and was impressed by the man.

"We met up in Cape Town. He handed me a script. I read it. He asked me what I thought. I said, 'It's funny. It sounds like it's going to be a great movie!'

"He said, 'I want you to play one of the lead roles.' I laughed. He didn't. He was serious. I had no on-screen or acting experience, but he trusted me.

"I laughed and said that I didn't trust myself. I remember him telling me to be myself and enjoy the journey. So there was no audition and here I was getting handed a lead role in a movie. It was pretty scary and intimidating. Next thing you know we're on set and filming for six weeks in Cape Town.

"My character's name is Lonnie. He is probably the most socially awkward and shy person you'll ever meet. He's lovable, but extremely weird. Ironically, we have so many similarities, which allowed the character to develop organically."

Oliver says acting is a different world to stand-up comedy.

"Working with the cast and crew members who were on top of their game, learning so much on the job, the fear of failure, self-doubt, no sleep... The list goes on. It was all worth it."

The former teacher from Retreat, Cape Town, says the decision to leave the education sector was based purely on the fact that he doesn't want any regrets when he is old and grey.

"My plan was always to become a teacher. I'm passionate about working with young people. If I wasn't a comedian I would definitely still be teaching. But I always wanted to give stand-up comedy a proper go and see what the industry is like. I didn't want to have any regrets a few years down the line. Six years later and I'm still going strong. Fortunately, I'm able to pursue my passion on a full-time basis. Being on stage is my happy place," he said.

He taught at Wynberg Boys' High School for about five months.

"I know right? And here I am calling myself an ex-teacher. Officially, I taught for two months after qualifying as a high school maths and history teacher at UCT. It was a temporary post. Once that short stint was done I packed my bags and headed straight for the stage."

He maintains that he was never confident enough to claim that he was "comical".

"Being funny while hanging out with your friends and being funny on stage are two completely different things. So, at no time before my first live performance did I assume that I had the gift of the gab.

"My first few gigs sparked the fire, I guess. There's a certain type of adrenaline rush that you experience while performing. Once the audience responded to my stories with laughter I was hooked. That's when I realised I had the gift of making people laugh. It was raw, but it was there. Making people laugh is tough. "

He says it took him a while to find his voice.

"My first one-man show I Came, I Taught, I Left made me feel like I had earned the right to be called a comedian. It launched in 2014 and marks a career milestone. . And, yes, I bombed plenty of times, especially when I'm performing new material. It's kind of bound to happen."

What gets him through is telling stories that are grounded in his life.

"When my stories have a certain truth, I find it more enjoyable and easier to perform on stage. The magic of people understanding a local reference or slang is priceless. I feel like it breaks certain barriers. It's as if we go from being strangers to friends within a few seconds. "

His one-man show Face for Radio, which is on at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town, comes to Jozi later this year.