An exclusive interview: Will the real Michael Naicker please stand up?

Stand up comedian Kevin Perkins chats with us about being bike-jacked in South Africa, his Durban Indian character creation, battling cancer and the perks of being a Saffa expat in the UK.


Durbanite Kevin Perkins followed his natural call to comedy in his late 20s. He is one of South Africa’s top-selling stand up comedians, famous for his creation of a character named Michael Naicker. Perkins has since relocated to rainier pastures in the UK and is frothing to entertain South African expats this January.

We caught up with Mr Perkins for a quick chat.

First things first; who is Michael Naicker?

Michael Naicker is a fictional Durban Indian character. He’s a blue collar worker who loves fast cars, alcohol and women. He lives by two truisms or “Naickerisms” in his life: You can never have too much money and breasts can never be too big. Although he only has a “functional matric” the audience is always left feeling that he’s sharper than he makes out. The character developed his own unique personality over the years and this is what has made him so popular. “Iron Mike” is from “the nines” in Chatsworth. He believes everything mechanical in life should be modified – standard is boring!

So we’ve established that you’re South African, born and fled… why’d you leave the motherland?

I left for all the usual reasons and, without dwelling on the negatives too much, I came to the UK to seek a better life for my children and my family. The tipping point was when I got “bike-jacked” on my mountain bike while out cycling near Kyalami. I decided my life and my family’s lives were worth more than that. I wasn’t going to end up hacked to death on a dirt road in badly fitting cycling kit.

What’s the worst thing about being a South African expat in the UK?

Lack of knowledge of everyday stuff. Products, medicines, property rental protocols etc.

Who/what is the butt of most of your stand up jokes?

No ifs and no butts. I do basic social commentary and elaborate on the frailties of life that most of us experience. I try to stay away from politics because I just find it depressing – people can get that stuff for free on the news every day. No, I like to talk nonsense and lift people up for the time that I’m privileged to be standing in front of them.

As a stand up comedian, what is the most annoying question that you get asked?

No such thing… I love engaging the media and my audiences. Go ahead ask me anything!

What is your favourite brand of motor vehicle?

VW… Nutting beats da quality of a German cab… they own Audi, Lamborghini and Bugatti… enough said.

What’s the best part about living in the UK (from your humble South African perspective)?

I don’t have to stress that I won’t have electricity or fresh water on a daily basis. Back in SA we regularly had water outages and power was out every week sometimes for days at a time. Got so bad that we were bathing in our swimming pool some days. You can live with crime and all the other kak, but when you can’t even heat up a cup of coffee or take a hot shower… the gloves come off!

Could you tell us a little bit more about your battle with cancer?

Yeah, it was in 1991. I was still studying at the time (2nd year Mechanical Engineering) and a lump appeared on my neck just under my jaw line. It wasn’t painful and this worried my mom who was the Chief Matron at Entabeni Hospital in Durban at the time. We had it checked out and short story long it was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands). I had to have the gland removed and then had to have radiation and chemotherapy. It was an awful time in my life and changed my entire outlook on everything. It was a great weight loss plan though – lost 12 kg in about six weeks. I have been in remission since 1991 and now I try to do charity work for cancer charities and also raise awareness about the importance of early detection through the World Lymphoma Day campaign.

Have you ever used your battle with cancer as part of your material?

Yes, it’s never been a big piece but I did write a comedy piece about radiation therapy for World Lymphoma Awareness day. There should be no sacred cows in comedy (in my humble opinion). Humour can be found in just about everything.

What’s next for Kev Perkins? Any upcoming gigs we should look out for?

Taking over the world! Seriously though, I’ll be doing Mike Naicker shows around the UK for South African expats. I’m kicking off with the first one at GJ’s in Wandsworth on 24 January. Thereafter I’ll be visiting ANYWHERE where I can find expats looking for a good laugh. I want expats to know I’m here and to share their stories with me. In fact it looks like I’ve already got venues for the week after the 24th too. Later I’ll focus on more generic comedy that I could do at, say… The Royal Variety Show. I’m also a certified speaking coach so I intend to take my corporate speaking product to the market called “Stand and Deliver™”.