South African stand-up comedy it seems to me, is a bit of a mash-up between the American style (down and dirty with lots of profanities and lurid analogies) and the British (more cerebral, making the audience work out the jokes rather than handing it to them on a platter).
Of course here in SA there are still plenty of ‘in’ jokes which may leave an international audience somewhat bamboozled but I still think that all tourists should take in some South African comedy at some point. After all, it’s a cultural experience!
I myself, though Capetonian born and bred, lapped up the culture at the Jou Ma Se Comedy Club. It’s the full experience; a small, intimate room, full of laughing people, dimly lit, save for the spotlight on the stage. It’s just like in the movies. The team of comedians were in top form; host Tracy Klass and magician Marcel Oudejans being followed in an open mic session by Dylan Skews from Durban and Little Paul, who needless to say, was named ironically. While all the acts impressed over a couple beers and a great pizza, the head-line act, which I was fortunate enough to see, as it’s his last appearance for a while, was Kurt Schoonraad.
I’d heard about Kurt over a couple years, but never actually seen any of his acts. What a mistake. Running through a variety of activities and experiences most people have daily, he delivers with impeccable timing and a somewhat personal feel, poking fun at stereotypes and the local cultural differences in a way that had me crying with laughter. I could kick myself for ignoring our local comic talent for so long.
It won’t do these people any justice to try and quote any of their individual acts. All I will simply say is: go and see them. To me it was a perfect evening and I’m really excited about recommending it to everyone.
My only caution is to check where you are going. The River Club – host to the Jou Ma Se Comedy Club every Thursday – is easy to find… if you know where it is. Head for the Observatory (slightly outside the suburb of the same name) and you won’t go far wrong. They could still do with a little more signage up at the Club though. I tried three different entrances and various rooms, and spent a few puzzled minutes at the Peruvian Grass Growing Convention. It wasn’t as funny though.