There’s always that edge to live comedy, that build up of hilarity at the outrageousness of the person on stage, shot through with a fine-tuned nervousness that their laser-like comedy beam might pick you out next. Sure enough, the host for the Vodacom Funny Festival – the highly energetic, award-winning South African comedian Alan Committie – wasted no time. After a swift introduction, he started rearranging the audience, splitting couples to match them up other audience members with whom he thought they were better suited.
Happily he then allowed us to relax a little with extracts from his stand-up material, topics ranging from the misleading ways in which restaurants introduce their menu items to the sexual orientation of superheroes.
The first act was an acrobatic, juggling and piano playing comedy duo from Switzerland called Full House who played on the humour of the silly arguments that arise between married couples. They were witty, funny and extremely impressive, pulling off stunts such as one of them playing a grand piano while lying on his back balancing his partner on the soles of his feet. Extraordinary.
Miss Ro from Korea followed with an act of magic, sleight-of-hand and quick-change artistry and then Kalkie Henenberg ‘the Hula Girl’ did a ‘drunken’ hoop routine. While they were both remarkable and highly entertaining, they were not comedic acts, and I was left puzzling as to why they should have been included in the line up of a funny festival.
South African comedians Shimmy Isaacs and Eugene Khoza were unashamedly well-received by their home audience for their individual stand up pieces. Where Isaacs is loud and outrageous, Khoza’s style is chilled and laid back, and the two complemented each other perfectly. Both of them almost inevitably concentrated on the race, culture and politics of South Africa which is a little standard but, as we all know, there is plenty of material for comedy there.
Kev Orkian the skilled Armenian comedic pianist from the UK ended the show with a bang, steering completely away from politics – either national or marital – and concentrating solely on his love of music, classical piano and Elton John. He shared his dream of making classical music more appealing to the younger generation by playing Beethoven to a skanking disco backing track, and demonstrated the perils of learning Elton John from a scratched CD.
It’s been a good few hours since I left the show, but I’m still giggling, and still a little nervous that Alan Committie might make me sit somewhere else.
The Vodacom Funny Festival runs at the Baxter 13 June to 17 July 2011.