This morning I woke up with pains in my stomach and a pulsating head. I did not have a heavy night of drinking; I attended the Vodacom Funny Festival and nearly met my fate due to excessive hilarity. Thank God the weekend is here so I have a chance to recover.
This year’s master of ceremonies was the charismatic and ever buoyant Alan Committie. Frankly he was so funny he was in danger of putting the rest of the acts into the shade. Committie’s timing – as many have seen in Defending the Caveman and Funny Business et al – is spot on, and his own enjoyment of a joke as it wells up inside him is so disarmingly displayed to the audience that they are laughing with anticipation before he can even get the words out.
Typically Committie was nothing if not rude about the comedians in the line-up, describing Piet Potgieter as ‘an international act from the northern suburbs’ and apologizing that the comedians would get uglier as the night progressed. He poked a lot of fun at the audience too but, with Committie, funny never tasted sweeter.
The first act of the night was the unique Japanese duo, Gamarjobat, whose take on stand-up comedy is a creative one. With a steel case full of interesting props, they used tricks, crazy body gestures and movement, and indecipherable screaming and shouting to convey their jokes. Truly magical comedy, and all without a word of English.
The young Oliver Booth’s set was based entirely around the unique manner in which Peter De Villiers speaks. Booth’s guess is that his strangled speech is due to severe constipation, and the inevitable, um, outcome (involving a Hugh Bladen-esque commentary) is perfectly constructed dry comedy. Booth was followed by one of South Africa’s favourite comedic sons, Kurt Schoonraad. Schoonraad’s material was mostly taken from his previously heard shows, but his anecdotes and observational humour are always good for a laugh. Why does the Claremont police station need to be protected by ADT?
The Boy with Tape on his Face did, indeed, have his mouth sealed with duct tape. Kind of odd, but this New Zealander proved innovative, and leapt straight in with a Western-style standoff against an audience member. The objective: to pop the balloons lodged between the opponent’s legs and under their arms with a stapler gun.
British comedian, Imran Yusuf was billed as one of the highlights of the festival. A far cry from the loud and crude comedy that so many stand-up routines entail, Yusuf turned out to be a pensive gentleman whose story on meeting the girl of his dreams could not have been funnier.
The final act of the night was Armenian Londoner Kev Orkian, a comedic and musical sensation. This man is a genius. With a musically-based performance heavy in foreign-tongue witticisms, he gave the audience a music history lesson in an attempt to make traditional Armenian music more popular. He demonstrated changing dance moves from the 1950s to the present day, yet always circled back to the music of his hometown which clearly has not changed one iota in half a century. He also attempted to give a little culture to his audience by the performance of a mini opera. After all, one is automatically cultured after going to an opera, is one not? It was magnificent.
If your life is in need of a laugh-over you can’t do much better than the Vodacom Funny Festival. There’s a huge variety of acts in the line up, many of them from overseas, and every act I saw was jaw-droppingly funny. I have not laughed that recklessly in a long time. Highly, highly recommended. But be prepared to hurt the next morning.
The Vodacom Funny Festival runs at the Baxter Theatre, Rondebosch 11 June to 8 July 2012.
See what else is on in Rondebosch