Local acts deliver gold standard comedyLesley Stones
Lesley Stones: In the Laughter Olympics, South Africa is fielding a team of gold and silver medallists.
The Bafunny Bafunny tour taking some of our top comedians on a short sprint through the country is proving far funnier than the foreign teams we’re recently hosted.
Dubbed the 2012 Olympics of Funny, the team delivers comedy on steroids, winning the longest laugh, loudest applause, silliest expression and wickedest satire events.
They don’t even bother competing for low-brow events like the rudest, crudest joke or the most swear words you can fit into a 15 minute sketch, where crass Americans are the clear champions. This is higher brow comedy, often tickling the intellect as well as the funny bone.
The toned team of comics delivers a wonderful variety of humour, material and pace, and it’s a long time since I’ve heard laugher this loud. The audience was equally admirable, with a delightful mix of all ages, colours and class all guffawing heartily at all the same things. At R150 to R250 a ticket it’s a mightily fine night out.
Veteran comic Mark Banks is a fabulous MC, hitting us with visual humour and a gamut of Mr Bean type grunts and grimaces. I’d forgotten how good Banks can be, and his five-minute slot between acts was consistently impressive. I love the way he laughs at his own jokes, which sounds self-centred but wraps us in an infectious sense of confidence. He barely swears, doesn’t do the easy racist patter and his wacky sense of the absurd is highly contagious.
The team is changing from night to night, and our comedy athletes were David Kau, Kagiso Lediga, David Kibuuka, Chris Forrest, Mpho Popps, Nik Rabinowitz and Deep Fried Man.
Mpho Popps was first to be handed the baton and delivered a fine performance that dwelt on cultural differences with some and hilarious non-stereotyped observations.
Ugandan-born David Kibuuka is still kind of limbering up in the comedy Olympics. He’s been around a while and his track record is an African time in both its theme and its speed of delivery.
He’s quickly overtaken by Nik Rabinowitz, a local favourite who’s fast and hugely funny. He either got a very short time slot or just made it fly far too quickly, running a political race and emerging the clear winner in the first half.
Deep Fried Man left his introverted stage persona at the door this time and bounced on for an act of medal-winning quality. He’s a singing, dancing comic and topicality is his forté. He gave us the Jacob and Julius song and white boy dancing routine, enlivened by a new Gangnam Style insert.
Chris Forest has also changed his image a touch, moving from a deadpan, speccy, heavy guy routine to a livelier act with a slew of freshly funny material.
The tone from Kagiso Lediga was very different, with a politicised act that initially felt odd after the more frivolous fun. It’s very smart stuff, taking us on a different track but needing five minutes before your head gets into his space and catches up with him.
Then we were on the home run with David Kau running the final stretch. He’s a charmer, bringing us back to the flippant, lighter side of life. Yet his hugely funny jokes about politics and literacy underline how South Africa has such rich comedy material that we really can field Olympic quality wit.
As Banks said in a more serious moment, we have grown through laughing with each other, at each other, at our foibles, fears and cultures. “Laughter is all we have left, there’s nothing else we can do,” he said.
Maybe South Africa is sometimes the world champion in sliding down the rainbow, but at least we can go out laughing.
Bafunny Bafunny runs at Montecasino in Johannesburg until October 14, Cape Town Artscape from November 2–4 and Durban ICC on November 10 and 11.
Lesley Stones is a former Brit who is now proudly South African.
She started her career by reviewing rock bands for a national UK music paper, then worked for various newspapers before spending four fun-filled years in Cairo, where she ended up editing a technology magazine.
Lesley was the Information Technology Editor for Business Day for 12 years before quitting to go freelance, specialising in travel & leisure writing and being opinionated about life in general. Her absolute passions are travel, theatre, the cinema, wining and dining.
Web site: http://www.lesleystones.co.za