Tastes Like Chickenby Brendon Bosworth / 16.09.2009
It may sound puerile, but fat is funny. Especially when the fat guy is turning on himself and ripping his own adipose to shreds. Angelo Tsarouchas’ self-deprecating repertoire is ballsy. From the second the hulking Canadian first spoke into the mic, the crowd was putty in his hands. Having him host the Nando’s Comedy Festival is somewhat of a catch-22. On the upside, he injects the right energy into the evening, keeps everyone warm, lubes the transition between comedians. On the downside, he’s a tough act to follow. With a show like this you’re seeing 6 stand-ups (7 if you include Angelo, who delivers a good five to ten minutes between each act) in about an hour and forty minutes. It’s a quick turn-over, with the pressure on the comedians to drop their hottest material in a short session.
The opening slot is always a tough one. Even more so when the crowd has just lost their virginity to 130kg of quivering Canadian man flesh, wrapped in an Iron Maiden t-shirt. Stuart Taylor did his best, but his subject matter brought him down. The tribulations of marriage, parenting and child birth only resonate with a percentage of the audience. Those who haven’t yet entered that stage of life, the free amongst us, just can’t relate. Although we now have an insight into why Taylor changed to comedy – years of artificially inseminating cows with a ramrod would drive anyone to the stage. The UK’s Simon Clayton put his British dryness to good use. Anyone who starts off by describing himself as the “lovechild of Winnie Mandela and PW Botha” wins kudos from me. Ahmed Ahmed (born in Egypt; raised in the States) milked the whole Arab thing, talking about how he found his namesake on the FBI’s most wanted list. He’s dialled into the Arab in a terrorist-geskrik Western world gag and stretches it nicely, all the time delivering with a resolute style that forces the awkward silences.
The second half truly upped the ante. With his easy manner, Loyiso Gola nailed the strictly South African laughs. Taxi drivers, white guilt, apartheid, Julius Malema and Caster Semenya: we’re still laughing at these things, even when some of them hit a nerve. Loyiso has an eye for dissecting our cultural weirdness and serving it back up. His act is flawless and he easily makes the moves between relevant satire and humour born from the simply benign. Stand-out of the evening award has to go to Kira Soltonavich, who owned every inch of the stage. Nine times out of ten, male comics are going to engage in gender-bashing, hooking into the male/female stereotypes. So it’s refreshing to see it dished out by a lady. “My husband gave me a scale for my birthday; he thinks women are obsessed with their weight. I’m going to give him a ruler for his.” Like Ahmed, Kira draws material from her roots, pulling off the Russian mother impersonation and finding the gold in her childhood as an immigrant in San Francisco. She’s everywhere at once and not afraid to move, as evidenced by her hip-swinging rendition of an American girl standing up and peeing all over a Japanese bathroom stall. Saturday Night Live’s Dean Edwards is a king of impersonation. If you closed your eyes during the Eddie Murphy take-off, you were right there listening to Delirious. Michael Jackson got dealt, as did Jay-Z, who now lives in my mind as Beyonce’s little wimp bitch. The Denzel Washington bit was also the business. American celebrity baiting with a sharp delivery; a light and easy way to end the evening.
Check the site at http://www.comedyfestival.co.za