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Theo Von

A Tale of Three Cities

by Bartlett / 28.07.2011

Comedy trades on stereotypes, and the stereotype about Capetonians is that we are ‘cliquey’. We’re all like ‘I’m sorry, my bag of friends is full.’ Plus we’ve got the mountain for company. In Cape Town we talk about ‘being in a good space’ and getting off the grid. In Joburg you talk about your portfolio while being stuck in gridlock. Durban can talk about whatever it wants – it’s not like the rest of the country gives a shit.

And so it is that these three cities play host to the Nando’s Comedy Festival, welcoming the flavour of a fistful of international comedians, with a sprinkling of local talent. Bartlett, your stereotypical Capetonian, flew up to Jozi to get the drop on this year’s show as it got underway at Montecasino…

Nothing welcomes you to Joburg quite like Gillooly’s Interchange, where you must follow the signs to Pretoria if you want to make it to Sandton and the surrounding suburbs. Take a wrong turn and you’re fucked. And don’t get me started on Durban, where the re-named and crossed-out road signs make that municipality a political piss take and navigational shitstorm. Good local folk just apologise when trying to give you directions to roads that they can’t pronounce. In Cape Town we just got our highway into town renamed from Eastern Boulevard to the even more generic Nelson Mandela Boulevard. So ja, famous international comedians… welcome to South Africa. Now get lost!

And they pick up on our country’s eccentricities too. Like Dan Cummins at Montecasino: “Welcome to South Africa. Or should I say ‘fake Italy’. I feel like I’m in the movie Inception… I don’t know how deep I’ve gone.”
“Biltong, yeah, I like biltong. We call it beef jerky, but we don’t have whole fucking shops dedicated to it!”

It was a true privilege to sit backstage with the comedians, big pimpin’ in the Bologna Box at Montecasino, and laugh at South Africa, and what makes us funny. They were all prepared to take risks in adapting their set to suit the mood of the crowd, and my feeling is that this show will get better and better as the comedians find their feet and start to have more fun together.

The bottom line is that this gig is a hands-down must-see. Props go to Sam Hendrikse and his Hunta Live crew for putting together an international show par excellence. It can’t be easy convincing Mark Curry of Hangin with Mr Cooper fame to come and perform out here. Promoters are a particular breed, and to my knowledge, the only dudes hustling in this arena are Sam and Roddy Quinn. Sure you’ve got the Joe Parkers, who manage, hustle and perform. But a straight-up promoter sees things in black and white – which is why we have Ndumiso Lindi performing in Jozi and Nik Rabinowitz in Durbs.

With only two local comedians onstage each night, there’s no kowtowing to the sacred cows of affirmative action or window-dressing. These are funny guys telling us fucking funny stories that will leave you exhausted with laughter. Montecasino was dead on the Monday night that I watched the show. But the larney 1870-seater ‘teatro’ was two-thirds full. Comedy is rock ’n’ roll, and hip hop is the new rock ’n’ roll – making comedy the new hip hop. And for all intents and purposes it was, as the audience streamed out afterwards, still laughing, still repeating the snatches of the jokes they remembered as if they were phat beats still lingering in their sub-conscious.

The discerning Mahala reader needs to save his two cents on the comments section below and rather speak with his wallet and drop the R150 to see something special. We want to be taken seriously as an international destination, and so we need to support the acts that make the trip to our shores. Period.

As a post-script, here’s a review of what I skeemed, if you want to compare notes down below once you’ve witnessed the kifness:

Mark Eddie (Host) – Dead ringer for Ed Jordan. Could well have been Ed Jordan maybe. Bald, affable music funnyman. He did his job of warming up the crowd and not upstaging any of the main acts.

Dan Cummins – Dan started out like a house on fire, but he was hosing himself down by the end. He had some good material on his kids, and great local insight. He’s the kind of guy you want to get stoned and shoot the breeze with.

Michael Loftus – Michael looks funny, like he should be in accounting. His bit about TMJ syndrome (acute inflammation of the temporomandibular joint) – basically, blowjob lockjaw – as the excuse his wife gives for not doing the necessary was off the leash. So too his baby toe shenanigans.

Theo Von – Theo’s confidence made it hard not to laugh at his every word and gesture. From jokes about how cats are like lions to midgets to playground games where you had to hold your friend’s cock and the guy who let go first was the one declared gay was ROTFL.

Dave Thornton – Australian Dave reckoned that the line-up was similar to the US invasion of Iraq – a bunch of Yanks with one drunk Aussie following behind them. Despite his nationality, Dave was very likeable, and his dance routine pisstake of South African ‘robots’ was hilarious.

Mark Curry – He of Hangin with Mr Cooper fame. How the mighty have fallen. Mark seemed paranoid about having his picture taken and his set being filmed. As if it might end up in the hands of Perez Hilton and ruin his career comeback for good. Observing the tall Mr Cooper up close, starstruck as I was of him and memories of MNET Open Time – he seemed to me to have demons, and I imagine that he wrestles with himself when he’s not preying on loose women after the show. His interactions with the audience were well-received but he slipped into his comfort zone a bit with his Obama and Michelle sketch.

Ndumiso Lindi – I saw Ndumiso nearly a decade ago when he first burst onto the local comedy scene. And now the only thing older than Nelson Mandela is ‘Madiba Jive’. I was amped to see that joke again, but he, and it, seemed played out and tired. His rendition of Shosholoza and his take on the difference between blacks, whites and coloureds did give the whole show a valuable local feel though.

Lindzy Msimang – Daughter of Manto Tshabalala. Or so she claims. Which means it must be true, because why else would she claim it? Lindzy was the Graca Comedy Showdown Winner, and is most def a star in the making. She is sexy, she is smart, she is Mzansi fo sho. She was the cherry on the top, no pun intended. We look forward to seeing and hearing more from her sweet lips.

*The Nando’s Comedy Festival will be in Joburg until the 31st of July, Durban from the 4th to the 6th at the ICC Arena, and Cape Town at the Artscape Opera House from the 9th to the 14th of August.

Book your tickets here. There’s even free burgers and shit.

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