Comedy legend David Isaacs on Mince Jou Hare

20 May 2024

Comedy legend David Isaacs on Mince Jou Hare

After ending the year on Showmax as Nazeem in Spinners, David Isaacs is now back on the African streamer as director of Mince Jou Hare, a feel good, small-town sitcom about Frieda (Melissa de Vries), who quits her factory job to set up a hair salon in her home. 

If laughter is good for the soul, then David has been improving people’s lives for nearly three decades. He’s been nominated for an Avanti Award as Dino in Fishy Feshuns; won an Avanti as Colin in S.O.S; won a Kanna at KKNK for co-creating and co-starring in Joe Barber; was nominated for a Best Actor: Comedy SAFTA for Die Vlieënde Springbokkie; and co-created the triple SAFTA winner G.I.L.  

With Mince Jou Hare now streaming on Showmax, Caryn Welby-Solomon chatted to the comedy legend to find out more. 

How would you describe Mince Jou Hare?

Mince Jou Hare is about one person and their pursuit of their dreams, and it’s a fun exploration of family life in modern-day South Africa.

You were a part of some of SA’s most iconic sitcoms, like Fishy Feshuns and S.O.S. What’s the key to making an audience laugh?

Comedy is hard to get right. 

When we were doing Fishy Feshuns and S.O.S., we didn’t know if it was going to be good or not good; we were just having fun. The directors encouraged us to bring our funny to work and they would put it on TV. Everyday on S.O.S, we would laugh – like lie on the floor laughing – and we knew that 10% of what we did was going on TV. If you create the environment, it has to be translated somewhere, it has to filter into the work. 

So I like the fact that as a director I can create the conditions for people to have fun. If people have fun while doing the work and they’re not under stress or feeling bad about themselves, generally you’ll get a really great project at the end. Especially with comedy, you want actors to be comfortable, to feel as if it is a space where they can thrive and enjoy themselves, where they will be eager to come to work. This then creates an organic comedy, because you can’t write a lot of this, you have to find it in the moment.

For a while we had very few South African sitcoms on TV. Why do you think the tide is changing?

I think that people go through waves of interest. We were inundated with sitcoms and then they went away, and then we get older and become the people in the boardrooms making the decisions, and there’s a nostalgia for sitcoms again. 

The attention span for sitcoms is also lekker. It’s short enough to just get into something, watch it quickly, have a laugh and then move on with your day.

What attracted you to Mince Jou Hare?

It was fun for me to be a part of something that’s not too heavy, which gives people a breather from life. I think people are yearning to laugh about situations that they are used to: their family, their friends, the spots they find themselves in. I certainly see that around my circles.
I’m also always attracted to working with lekker actors. I’ve worked with a lot of the actors before or I grew up seeing them on screen, so it felt like a reunion or a homecoming of sorts. We all really just embraced each other and helped one another.

How do you feel about how coloured characters have developed on screen?

It all comes down to the people making the decisions about what we watch – and also about what we as actors accept with regards to what stereotypes we are perpetuating.

There is more of an emphasis on storytelling and whose stories we are telling. Who are these people? And how can I tell these stories? How can I represent them? Yes, the gangster story is important but then there is also the overriding economic story. These things don’t happen in a vacuum.

I feel so lucky now that there is a whole library of different characters that I can choose from in the coloured community. A whole field has opened up as to what roles are now available for coloured actors. And you can see that diversity in Mince Jou Hare and the way it represents coloured people, who are all different but just happen to live in the same small town.

About Mince Jou Hare

Created by award-winning comedian Shimmy Isaacs and inspired by the true story of her mother, Mince Jou Hare stars Melissa de Vries (Sasha Daniels in Arendsvlei) as Frieda, with comedian Dugald Pieterse as her husband, Vincent, Fleur du Cap nominee Bianca Flanders (Troukoors; Nêrens, Noord-Kaap) as her best friend, Julia, and Franka Kirby in a breakthrough role as her daughter, Jody. 

Multi-award winner Roberta Durrant produces through Penguin Films, the company behind International Emmy nominees Stokvel and Home Affairs; classic SA comedies like the Rose d’Or nominee Madam & Eve and triple SAFTA winner G.I.L.; and long-running dramas Diepe Waters, Arendsvlei, Projek Dina and Sara Se Geheim. 

The first episode of Mince Jou Hare is now streaming on Showmax, with new episodes on Mondays.

Watch the trailer for Mince Jou Hare 

Join the conversation: #MinceJouHare

Note to Editors: 
Bonus question: 

Was the move from acting to directing always part of your plan?

Not really. My role as an actor was clearly defined; that was all I wanted to do. I just wanted to explore different forms of acting. I did dramatic and comedy roles, and learned to be a versatile performer.

I was coerced into directing when I met my wife [Ndoni Khanyile, aka Barbara Bhembe from Tali’s Joburg Diary] about 14 years ago. We met on a movie and I was doing Joe Barber at the time. My wife noticed that my thinking has always been inclined to be on the creative side and she encouraged me to explore this. 

I then gained experience assistant directing and that set the groundwork. My job would be to convey to the actor the instruction from the director. So when I started directing, about ten years later with Sara Se Geheim, these skills were really practised within me. It’s easy for me to translate an idea to an actor and make it practical so that they can understand what we are trying to achieve and what is required. 

I just love working with actors, and I love the pressure of being in the trenches with them. And I also like working with the rest of the crew, with everybody at the height of their craft. The coming together of all these brilliant minds and abilities in the moment is the sweet spot for me.

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