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Two Dof Couples

Two Dof Couples

by Andrew Thompson / 21.12.2009

Don’t tell Nik, Marc, or Riaad, but the true highlight of my 3 Wiser Men experience at the Baxter didn’t actually come during the show. It came, surprisingly, during the brief 15 minute interval which, I should mention, arrived rather abruptly. Two couples, middle-aged and almost definitely from Constantia, happened to bump into each other near the tea station in the foyer; clearly old friends. The greetings were generous and warm, and, as is the case during theatre intervals, both sides immediately launched into their small-talk take on the show. They compared notes, chuckled and even related their favourite moments. But a few minutes into the conversation things got a bit awkward, and as the once flowing conversation stalled, they all exchanged sheepish and confused glances. “You’re not seeing Stuart Taylor’s Learner Husband, are you?”. “Uh, no. We’re watching 3 Wise Men, with Marc Lottering.” They looked at each other embarrassingly, and then silently parted ways back into their respective theatres.

This, really, is a symptom of the comedy currently doing the rounds at local theatres – it’s all this wholesome, desperately trying to be edgy, but really fairly generic, mature humour. You just need to look at the audience streaming through the doors to qualify this – mainly middle-aged to elderly (they even wished some tannie happy 79th birthday during the show), who arrive early, pass around their box of Nutties, and laugh those hearty, considered laughs, that roll from the belly, not fly from their lungs.

But if you remove yourself from this scourge, 3 Wiser Men will still leave you laughing – hell, it had a few people writhing in bundles on the soft theatre floor. And how could it not have, with three of SA’s top comics – Marc Lottering, Riaad Moosa, and Nik Rabinowitz (hands down the country’s funniest man at the moment) sharing a stage? These guys know how to work a crowd, and a few dozen shows into the season, they’ve ironed out most of the kinks and dropped all the kak jokes, leaving behind a polished, rehearsed, and fairly clinical comedic core to work with. Which, it seems, is exactly what the mature, considered audience was looking for.

Three Wiser Men

But that’s exactly the problem with long-running shows like this – the jokes are still hovering around the Joel Santana era, they still reference District 9 like it’s fresh on the circuit, talk about “shooting the bastards”, and continue to take digs at Joost, and some of Nik’s material was used on his weekly slot on Cape Talk and 702 months ago.

The show is more than three stand-up sets though – these have been designed to tie the whole show together, as a means for warming the crowd in between a few very (intentionally?) average magic tricks, and the two main skits, which involve plenty of drag, and some all-together very funny characters. But at the same time, which would’ve come dangerously close to falling flat if it wasn’t for Nik’s various alter-egos, one of which, a blonde, bosomy, middle-aged and all too convincing Mrs Rosenberg, must surely become a regular on stages around the country.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of the show is that it’s just trying to do too much. It’s trying desperately to become a one-of-a-kind combination of the Late Night genre of television shows, with shrugging and chuckling band members in the background; a stock-standard polished skit show; and a stand-up comedy gig, all rolled into a neat two hour package. And, while they are all effective, and have their moments, it all seems staid and tired. But, until South Africa develops a proper comedy circuit, where you can catch the likes of Nik, Marc and Riaad in intimate, boozy clubs, where they can really let loose,` you’ll just have to get what you can out of polished, well-rehearsed gigs like these.

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  1. oppervlakkig says:

    Honestly, is there ANYONE out there who actually finds Marc Lottering even vaguely funny? The most overrated, pathetic excuse for a “comedian” in the history of SA entertainmenty. How he manages to get this much attention is way beyond me.

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  2. Murray says:

    So because its “polished and well-rehearsed” (read: professionally done) its bad? It sounds to me like you laughed your ass off but for some reason have a problem admitting it.

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  3. AT says:

    wow murray, but you’re an expert at reading between my lines. polished and rehearsed = professionally done? actually, my belly still aches from all the laughter, i just felt like being a sour bastard. truth is, stand up comedy that is polished and rehearsed is really fantastic – i love hearing carefully crafted and over-practised jokes, that are nice and dated and safe, rather than edgy, not to mention skits that have obviously been done so often that the comedians themselves are starting to get bored. looks like you’ve caught me out!

    oppervlakkig – you’d be amazed. marc was able to leave people crying from laughter simply by dressing up as a standard drag queen. i thought it was horrendous, but it must be great to get such laughs by doing something so cliche and unoriginal. i actually agree with you – the dude is very ordinary, occasionally quite funny, but definitely not worth all the acclaim.

    that’s my rant. thanks for reading.

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  4. Sara says:

    Well they’re less passe than Bill Hicks which this site keeps lauding:)

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  5. Andy says:

    Are you kidding. Bill Hicks = Genius.

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  6. Sara says:

    Yes, Bill Hicks WAS a genius (he is dead now), but in the context of the review, he is not contemporary. I was trying to make the point that just because comedians tell “old” jokes, does not mean that they are not worth listening to, like Bill Hicks

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  7. oppervlakkig says:

    Sara, Bill Hicks never was and will never be passe. Fact.

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  8. joe says:

    To be quite honest, most South Africans do not have the most “forward thinking”, “experimental” or “edgy” sense of humor now do they. The majority of us have watched more than 3 Leon Schuster movies, chuckled during a Ben Trovato “gem” or thought at least one of Barry Hiltons Savanna adverts kicked ass. We can’t turn around in shock and surprise when shows like “3 wiser men” do well. These productions are safe because… well, we are… and our tastes reflect this. For those of “us” that make up the 5% of the population that like more edgy shows, we have a long wait ahead of us before things change.

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