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December 10, 2012

Comedy in Cape Town: Your fix of laughter in the Mother City

The tool of the trade for stand-up comedians. Photo courtesy Chris Engelsma / Wikimedia Commons.

People in Cape Town are hilarious – and I don’t mean accidentally because they look funny.

Some of them purposely step onto a stage and try make locals and tourists laugh at them. This isn’t some form of sick sadomasochism – this is the Cape Town comedy scene, and it’s better than ever!

It wasn’t always the case that Cape Town could offer several comedy shows a week from a variety of performers. A few years back there was but one venue. If you couldn’t get in there, you would have to resort to telling jokes to yourself, and pretending you didn’t already know the punchline.

Today, however, things have changed. Comedian Brendan Murray has watched the scene grow over the past few years, and says that now there is a vibrant scene. “There’s a lot of comedy going on,” he says. “There’s a gig almost every night of the week – you just have to know where to look.”

His colleagues share the sentiment. Rob van Vuuren – whose alter ego is Twakkie from The Most Amazing Show – says that Cape Town comedy “is experiencing a resurgence, a renaissance”. He puts it down, in part, to new interest in pursuing comedy as a career. “As the amount of comics grow, so interest from audiences grows.”

There are loads of local comedy spots around Cape Town now, and most stand-up evenings are organised by professional comics themselves. Venues include the likes of The Chilli Bar, Republic Lounge and Sinsation. Van Vuuren also notes: “There are festivals throughout the year now, and [television channel] Comedy Central is getting involved.”

According to Murray, Cape Town audiences can be difficult to crack because they spend a lot of their time relaxing on the beach and not being too fussed about anything.

“This is a leisure town. In summer the sun sets at 9pm. People aren’t exactly desperate for a laugh,” he says. The logic here says that high stress necessitates a sense of humour, a theory that Donald Trump has singlehandedly proved false.

However, Murray also notes that Cape Town audiences are more willing to laugh at themselves. “For example, hipsters would laugh hardest at a joke about hipsters,” which is handy because hipsters do spend a lot of time being laughed at. Van Vuuren agrees: “We live in an incredibly diverse country. Comedy is a way to deconstruct ourselves and each other, and examine how things work.” 

With its reputation for leisure tourism, it’s no surprise that comedy audiences have a healthy mix of locals and foreigners. “You’re never sure how a joke will go down,” says Murray, “but it adds to the focus of the comedy. You have audiences who are very aware of broad issues in terms of geography, politics and human rights issues.”

If you’re looking for your fix, here are some dates for the month of December 2012:

Tuesdays

4/11/18 December

Republic of Comedy at Republic Lounge (8.30pm)

Tickle me Tuesday at Sinsation, Camps Bay (8.00pm)

Wednesdays

5/12/19/26 December

Zula comedy nights at Zula Bar (8.30pm)

Thursdays

6/13/20/27 December

Jou Ma se Comedy Club at Riverclub Golf Course, Observatory (8.00pm)

Chillibar Comedy Nights (9.00pm)

Sundays

9/16/23/30 December

Comedy Sundays at the Armchair (9:00pm)

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