Why does so much live comedy have to involve the ‘F’ word? I don’t consider myself a prude, but I felt embarrassed for the various comedians who felt the need to scatter profanities so liberally through their acts at the Nandos Comedy Festival. It’s just not funny.
The Americans were the worst offenders, with Michael Loftus at the top of the heap. He blamed his foul mouth on his kids: he can’t swear at home, so he lets rip on stage. But profanities aside, he was one of the best talents in the line-up. Best known for his contributions towards the TV series The George Lopez Show, he has a relaxed easy-going nature with jokes centred around the mundane which make his set feel unrehearsed and natural, whether in the role of performer or host.
Mark Eddie, another host, was not only hilariously entertaining with a down-to-earth humour, but was also an absolute musical and lyrical genius. Armed with an acoustic guitar he gave spot on impersonations of musicians such as Shaggy, Dave Matthews, Johnny Cash and even Scooby Doo. His incredible knack of mastering various genres of music and re-inventing old classics was one of the highlights of the show.
Greg Behrendt, the brains behind the best-selling novel He’s Just Not That Into You, was another winner. His routine was based upon his realisation that he is no longer as cool as he was in his teens. There is nothing he can do about it and, horror of horrors, he is even heading towards the status of “creepy old guy”. Clearly painfully familiar territory for many in the audience.
Dan Cummins took a while to get into the swing of things, with antics that were untraditional, slightly sarcastic and certainly rather dark. But in its way, this made him stand out from the rest. His observations were related in a way that nobody else would dare to say out loud. An anti-hipster, panda bear-hating realist who went through a suicidal scare whilst visiting Robben Island and various other apartheid museums, he poked fun at his white European heritage. He drew laughter through crude metaphorical imagery and I found myself one too many times chuckling away when I know I shouldn’t have been.
The headline of the evening and a personal favourite of mine, Pablo Francisco was frankly a disappointment. Many of his skits were reproductions of previously seen acts, such as the YouTube hit of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a tortilla vendor. Some of the audience whooped enthusiasm and appreciation, but all I could hear was a lot of frantic “I don’t know what’s going on” noise. I think I’ll stick to the YouTube clips, rather then to see him live and have my brains scrambled again.
Local comedians included Loyiso Gola, Ndumiso Lindi and up-and-coming Carl Weber, whose performances varied drastically in content to the international acts. A juxtaposition of racial stereotypes and South African prejudices their acts, although very funny, were disappointingly clichéd and relevant only to South Africans, who felt somehow obligated to laugh. They stressed matters such as why it’s always cool to have at least one white friend, why black folk should never set foot in Constantia for fear of being converted into being a domestic worker and why Cape Coloureds are so much better at swearing then any other South African. Back to the swearing then.
Age restrictions are there for a reason but surely there was no need for all the profanity that the Nando’s Comedy Festival 2011 dished up. I like my comedy hot and spicy but excessive flavouring can leave a bad taste. This was a great dish, but overseasoned.
Ashley Davis & Melanie Beck
@woict_student & @woict_living
The Nando’s Comedy Festival runs at the Artscape till 14 August.