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Durban comedian goes from the stage to the page

Patrick Kenny has turned his focus from stand up and theatre to writing.

DURBAN comedian and actor, Patrick Kenny has turned his focus from the stage to writing and directing, with his latest show, ADHD, currently showing at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

Patrick collaborated on this latest project with fellow comedian and actor, Aaron McIlroy, with the duo proving that they make a winning team in the theatre industry.

Thinking back to the start of his career, Patrick admits he was a late starter having only decided to study after finishing his two years conscription in the army and completing his matric through a local college.

“I started working as a barman at the Royal, but my friends told me not to be stupid and to go study. I got my exemption and thought I’d do the sensible thing and study business management, but was persuaded to do an audition for drama studies with Prof Debbie Lutge at DUT. I landed up there doing the audition and I was in! I got home and the woman from the business management department called to say I’d been accepted. She slammed the phone down on me when I told her I’d decided to do drama!” he laughed, adding that he fell in love with acting but complained heavily about the scripts he had to learn, and preferred to write his own.

His focus turned to writing sketches and it has never waned.

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His venture onto the comedy stage started with improv shows and stand up, as well as educational shows.

He went on to work at SAFM with Don Ridgeway in the Friday Laugh In.

From there he was asked to do a breakfast comedy slot on East Coast Radio with Daryl Ilbury Monday to Friday.

“I did push the boundaries a bit and let rip, taking a dig at everyone! John Vlismas warned me I must take it easy as I would burn out, and at that time, I thought he was wrong. A year later I was frazzled and tired of being funny all the time. My girlfriend Shannon had broken up with me and I was finished!” he said.

Patrick left the radio and carried on doing stand up and improv before landing a Castle Lager New York advert.

“I did gigs and pushed beer trolleys for SAB after that, and then I got married, yes, my girlfriend came back to me and she proposed! We did sketches together at the Royal and had a lot of fun as we toured the province,” he said.

Patrick and his wife, Shannon Kenny.

He met Aaron McIlroy through Aaron’s wife, Lisa Bobbert. Aaron mentioned to him that as he was no longer performing on stage, theatre goers must think he had disappeared.

It was this that spurred him on to join forces with Aaron and Lisa and a collection of shows ensued.

“We did Reality Bites and kapow! we were in business. Next was Happy Clapper which took off, and we brought this back twice. We then did Comedy Masterclass together and have also done three Christmas shows together. I knew Aaron’s characters and voices and had seen his shows, so we developed new characters together. We are politely blunt with each other so we work well together. Aaron has a great eye for the commercial line and I like to dig deep. Aaron is great to work with as he is very brave and edgy and I have realised I am privileged as a writer and director to have a performer like him to work with. I can chop and change before the show and he goes with it, he has a great memory and just delivers,” he said.

Patrick has not only put his focus into script writing and directing, but was short listed in last year’s Digibook African Writers Competition.

He enjoys writing short stories and is a ‘Story Dad’ at his daughter, Anna’s school, where he tells children stories he has made up.

One of his stories, Dudu and the Buffalo, was sent by French teacher at Eden College, Ann Lüssi, to a colleague in France who has translated it into French and told the story to the school children in her school.

Patrick has also sent plays he has written to the BBC. Patrick and Shannon were also the force behind a breastmilk banking project which required Patrick to write a series of micro plays on aspects of breastmilk banking, which took off.

The micro plays were combined in a video which is now shown in clinics and hospitals around the province, and he turned his script book into a training manual for nurses. He has also started writing down stories of his time in the army.

“The writer inside me has always been there and I’m quite enjoying reinventing myself,” he said.


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