Night of a Thousand Giggles

Posted: February 6, 2009 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

©Astrid Stark

Published :  The Sunday Independent, 2008

Strapped into the Baxter Theatre’s dress circle seat it felt as if I was perching on top of a Big Dipper, peering down at little heads and shoulders, breathlessly waiting to be hurled into the bandstand and twinkling lights below. 

It’s showtime for the Three Wise Men and when the big names come out to play, expectations are high.

After David Kramer completed directing comedian Marc Lottering’s third show he knew he wanted to continue working with Lottering.  He wanted to take a new direction.  Lottering felt the same way but wanted to involve more partnerships, and so the idea for comedy show, Three Wise Men, was born.

nik-rabinowitz,marc-lottering,and riaad moosa with david kramerNik Rabinowitz, with a gamut of flawless Xhosa, Afrikaans and English-impersonations and his fourth one man show under the belt, together with the gently hilarious Riaad Moosa, who doubles as a medical doctor, joined Marc Lottering for this Cape Town threesome.

At first glance I thought that making a sosatie out of the son of a Pentecostal teacher, a Jewish linguist and an Indian Muslim, drenching it in the vintage genius of David Kramer and then serving it up just in time for Christmas is a cheap ploy to fill seats.  Maybe it is.  But if it’s this good, who cares?

Marc Lottering has the uncanny ability to provoke squeals of laughter from the audience by just standing there.  It’s peculiar really.  Of course his wild hair and elongated Nightmare before Christmas physique adds fuel to the funny. Maybe it has something to do with our own celebrity culture?  Dress a public figure, I am thinking Barry Ronge, in purple lycra leggings and a sweatband, or a flowing burqa.  Why is it funny? 

 I was curious to see if Lottering’s iridescence would slightly outshine Rabinowitz and Moosa. Not a chance. Both comedians fearlessly inject their own humour and personality into the performance.  The dialogue in the various sketches cleverly revolves around what it is that unite us as humans by highlighting our cultural differences.  The typecast characters are instantly recognisable and showcase humankind as all exactly the same, just different.

For the better part, the comedians bounced around and away from politics which I found a blessing.  I do find some humour in the way our politicians act like a herd of hippos in a splash-pool, but it has been a long year and quite frankly I wish they’d all just shrivel up and dry.

Adding a live band is a festive touch that binds the show together and allows it to seamlessly flow between the different skits.   Donvino Prins is a genius on the saxophone and with this instrument delivers a very memorable performance during a duet with a petulant spotlight.

They make it look so easy.  I caught up with David Kramer two weeks before opening night and though he tried his best to appear a little bored and distracted, his eyes told a slightly different story.  It can’t be easy roping in three comedians with their own egos and unique styles.  Kramer says the vision of Three Wise Men is “to offer a greater variety than your conventional comedy show and expose the fact that there is more to the comedians than just stand-up.”

Kramer, a veteran songwriter, playwright and director, handled all the elements of designing and staging the show.  He figures the expectations of audiences will be high, “These guys are so popular.  But they enjoy challenging each other.” 

Kramer relaxes a little and then explains the process. “Comedy is unpredictable and about surprise.  It’s a comedian’s role to reveal the funny side of life.  Together we are exploring the subject matter and all its possibilities. Then it all has to come together.”  Kramer says that the guys all wrote their own material.   “During a show there is an incredible energy between the performer and his audience.  You have to stay in the moment.”

As the curtain fell I realised that I was looking at Cape Town’s very own Big Dipper which is a constellation of three of our funniest men, a director that owns the recipe to successful South African performance art, and live band full of heart and soul.


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