"The most gratifying thing in the world," says Leon Schuster, "is to see people come out of your movie with a smile on their faces."
As the star and creator of such South African box office hits as Mr Bones and Mama Jack, Schuster should know.
"PG Du Plessis, a well-known Afrikaans writer, once said: 'The sound of laughter is like an angel weeing on your ear' and that's really really true."
He should expect more spiritual urination on his tympanic membrane with the release of his latest offering. Mad Buddies, which sees him team up with long-time cohort Alfred Ntombela and White Wedding star Kenneth Nkosi, is jam-packed with the physical comedy his fans have come to love.
"People underestimate visual humour," offers Schuster. "They think visual humour is a bad word for slapstick. But visual humour has been around for many many ages, so coming up with new visual stuff is a helluva challenge.
"What astounds me is not once in the history of the world has a comedian won an Oscar for his performance as a visual artist — that's a very sad sad state of affairs. Jim Carrey is a brilliant actor, Robin Williams has never won and Oscar for a comedic part, the same with Ben Stiller. They just don't get the acknowledgement they should and I think it's a great pity because comedy is the favourite form of entertainment in the world — and it's the most difficult as well."
Comedy, Schuster suggests, is a serious business.
"I was wearing a lot of hats while we were filming. I helped the director, I was producing, I had to act, I had to see if the gags worked, so I tend to get serious on set but we had a lot of fun with pranks and throwing rubber snakes," he grins.
"Especially Kenneth and Alfie just saw to it that there was a lot of fun happening on set. So it was a fun-filled movie — there was never one single bad word between the three of us or with the director or producer and that just shows onscreen. You can see we are enjoying what were doing. You can see there's a lot of love and passion that went into this picture."
It's a picture that finds sworn enemies, Boetie (Schuster) and Beast (Nkosi) forced to embark on a road trip as unwitting subjects of a new TV reality show devised by a producer played by Tanit Phoenix. Cue ostriches on motorbikes, Ntombela packed into a hay bale, lion and crocodile chases, leaf blowers in faces, weedeater haircuts, and other new twists on Schuster's signature visual style.
"It's very difficult to give people what they want but still surprise them," says Schuster. "But I know Alfred so I know how to write for him. I didn't know Kenneth so well, so I had to get to know him — I had to research him, I had to Google him and go onto Wikipedia," he grins.
"I had to do real research to get to this guy, but finally he pulled it off fantastically as did Alfred and Tanit."
And of course the reality-show angle plays into the comedian's You Must Be Joking heritage.
"I've been with candid camera all my life," he says, "so I wanted to give the audience a little bit of that side where the cameras are hidden away and we don't know that we're being filmed for this reality show as part of this long walk to freedom.
"So our characters didn't mind what they say to each other, they do things to each other that they would never have done had they known there were cameras on them, so it brings a little bit of that candid camera feeling into the movie which I thought would be very good for my audience."
The experience was very good for the cast themselves and Schuster is already thinking of teaming up with Nkosi and Ntombela again.
"I'd really like to work with these guys again because they were very professional, very funny, never demanding, and the whisky at the end of the day was the best," he laughs.
Article provided by EntertainmentAfrica.com.