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June 22, 2009

The Vodacom Funny Festival gets a ten on the laughter scale

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Marc Lottering

On Wednesday night I attended the annual Vodacom Funny Festival – a night of stand-up comedy at the Baxter Theatre. As a student, I rarely have the opportunity to watch expensive shows of any sort, much less so stand-up comedy. So when an acquaintance offered me a front-row seat that he had won, I jumped at the chance.

I learnt quickly that front-row seats, when it comes to comedy, are not quite as ideal as you might think. The sense of up-close intimacy shared with the performer is routinely undermined when you get showered in his spit, or even worse, become part of the act itself!

Cape Town’s Marc Lottering hosted the evening. Marc is well known in South African comedy circles, and rightly so. His flamboyant dress style and exaggerated gestures fused exquisitely with his embellished “Kaapse Klonkie” accent, drawing guffaws of laughter and loud applause from the audience as he warmed up the crowd and smoothed transitions from one comedian to the next.

First up was Tumi Morake, hailing from Gauteng. Tumi was energetic and larger-than-life; embracing and incorporating this most effectively into her routine. Despite a good crowd response, Tumi’s act seemed somewhat contrived, leaving considerable room for improvement.

The next act was Trevor Noah, a young man also from Gauteng. Trevor employs a subdued intelligent demeanour, drawing positive responses from the crowd without regressing to infantile gestures and impersonations. In addition, Trevor proved to be masterful at adapting flawlessly to other dialects and languages, such as Japanese and French. His unique style made for excellent comedy, and kept the crowd entertained until the moment that he left.

John Lenahan, speaking in an American accent and hailing from the United Kingdom, followed Trevor with an act which aimed to make a mockery of magicians and card games. This act was by no means unsuccessful. John’s routine seemed a little flat, and left something to be desired.

Judging by the crowd’s response, the most popular act was undoubtedly Gamarjobat from Japan. This act comprised two Japanese men dressed identically, save their mohawks; one painted red and the other yellow. The most impressive and refreshing thing about this act was that the duo were completely non-vocal. Bursting with unrestrained energy, Gamar and Jorbat ran, rolled and flipped all over the stage, miming in order to transcend any possible language barriers, and continuously triggering waves of hysteria from the audience. The lady sitting on my right was unfortunate enough to be targeted by the duo for not being enthusiastic enough in her responses, and from that moment on I was careful to laugh extra hard, not that I had to try too hard!

The final act was Nik Rabinowitz; who hail’s from Cape Town’s leafy suburb of Constantia. Nik performed with a natural, relaxed and fluid style, displaying an impressive talent for multilingualism; including a fluency in Xhosa. Nik gave a superb performance, but struggled to make an impression on the crowd so soon after the Gamarjorbat’s side-splitting theatrical antics.

All in all, the show was most definitely a success and a good idea for anybody searching for that rush of endorphins that only a good couple of hours of genuine laughter can produce. The show will be repeated in July (from the 15th to the 19th) and, with tickets priced at just R120, it is definitely worth catching.

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