…Jou Ma Se Comedy has finally come home. The renovated industrial building has an edgy, urban-grunge meets stylish chic feel. Possibly it’s trying just a little too hard to create that “we don’t even care” level of cool, but there is an elegant atmosphere which is easy to warm to.
Cape Town is renowned for its “flexible” approach to time keeping, and the show kicks off around 8:30. Still, someone is up on stage before the crowd gets impatient. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, although tradition states the front row are asking to be picked on. It is worth getting there early to soak up the atmosphere and order some grub.
Live comedy is always a bit of a gamble. That’s part of the joy of stand-up. But with at least 3 acts and a witty MC, the odds of a good evening’s entertainment are in your favour. Being on the waterfront has broadened the catchment for comedians from overseas. Our night was hosted by the brilliant Brit Martin Evans. Not only a consistently hilarious act in his own right, the lively Londoner doubled as the glue holding the entire evening together. Able to relate to tourists and native Capetonians alike, and gauging the mood of the room like a social thermometer, he had absolutely everyone laughing.
Following his fantastic start, there was one ironically un-funny joker in the deck. Tracy Klass, despite best efforts, did nothing to improve the reputation of female comics in an irritatingly male dominated profession. Women can be funny. Honestly they can. Sadly Ms Klass was not one of them. Her greatest attribute was in representing the female and middle aged. Unfortunately, by focussing her set on those characteristics, she instantly disengaged about 80% of the audience who simply don’t get the humour in divorce, the trials of feminine ageing, or the anxiety of watching a son play rugby. She’d do better to think less, and act instinctively. The part which did raise a smile were her spontaneous responses to the fire alarm bell going off. However, by that point part of me was hoping it really was her cue to finish.
Fortunately there was Evans to the rescue. Having rescued a falling atmosphere, we were then pimped out to the dark and twisted humour of Mr Warren Robertson. Now here is a funny man! Prepare to have your morality tested and the line between hilarity and disgust blurred beyond distinction. But you roll out the other side laughing and, mostly, unharmed.
Pre the headline act, we got an impromptu addition to the schedule in the form of part owner and local celebrity comic Kurt Schoonraad. Now usually when the boss gets up to strut his stuff it ends up the worst kind of self-congratulatory comedic crap. Kinder audiences feel obliged to chuckle wearily and the more upfront simply start hurling abuse. Much like when your dad starts dancing at the disco it generally signals that it’s time to cringingly call it a night. Schoonraad however, turned out to be quite the Ace up the evening’s sleeve. Maybe it’s all the years working in the bar trade, maybe it’s a lifetime of personal experience, either way Schoonraad has the parody of a drunkard down! The entire room was bent double re-living that inebriated conundrum of “a step” as you stagger home – something a fair few may then have gone on to re-encounter later that evening. Certainly the everyman’s comic, Schoonraad knows his crowd, a staple the Pumphouse is lucky to keep.
Another witty introduction from Evans, and then it was time to play lay all the cards on the table. Nik Rabinowitz certainly proved a winning hand. The only Jewish, South African, fluent in Xhosa Comedian possibly in the world, and a global success, Rabinowitz’s credentials give him a high pedestal to fall from. He didn’t even wobble. Joke after joke poured from his mouth, in each of his accumulated dialects and each one hit the mark. The only drawback, it leaves you wishing you spoke Xhosa too!
The bitterness of an evening’s entertainment ending is somewhat sweetened by fantastic cocktails, and the opportunity to “meet the stars of the show”. Putting 2 fingers up to pretention, the comics all congregate at the bar between and after the gig, mingling with us lesser mortals with chilled out, laid-back humility. It was a great night’s entertainment at a great venue, and as Cape Town’s only regular comedy show we’ll be going back for more.
Image © Damien Schumann