Cape Town Comedy festival rakes in the giggles

Posted: October 1, 2009 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews
Tags: ,
Performance:  Nando’s Cape Town Comedy Festival
Director: Paul Griffiths
Starring:  Kira Soltanovich, Loyiso Gola, Michael Mittermeier, Angelo Tsarouchas, Ahmed Ahmed, Dean Edwards and Simon Clayton.
Review:  Astrid Stark
First Published in the Cape Times Tuesday 29 September.


A Greek-Canadian, a Russian-American, A German-German, an Egyptian, a New Yorker and a Gautenger are just some of the funny men and women that are raking in the laughs at the Cape Town Comedy Festival’s main arena.    

Angelo Tsarouchas is the larger-than-life Greek-Canadian host that uses his ample girth to poke fun at himself and other obese people.  Mutlitple-award winning Tsarouchas has an American one hour show named Bigger is Better, and he jokes that in America he is actually perceived as quite slim, even athletic.  Well he actually isn’t, and though he’s intercultural observations are quite sharp and even funny, one can’t help but feel quite concerned for his well-being, and that of the audience members in the front rows.  

Tsarouchas sets the tone for the evening; the international performers use their various cultural and geographical backgrounds to make fun of our many human idiosyncrasies and in doing so illustrates that we are actually the same peas from different pods.  And this is what comedians do best, they gather incriminating evidence from our past and present that showcases us at our bigoted, racist best, and just as we laugh raucously at how dumb other people can be, they swiftly turn the mirror on us; laughter turns to an embarrassed grin.  

Loyiso Gola

Loyiso Gola

On this night, the limelight belonged to the black boys and one white girl.  Our own Loyiso Gola has a refreshing way of looking at the world and his observational commentary has quite a sting to it.  From Gugulethu, he asks the audience if they know where it is.  Before they can answer he hollers, ‘You – insert lots of expletives here – should know where it is since you, – more vicious swearing – put us there!’

At this point it is good to note that there really is a lot of swearing during the show. It works.  Rather than coming across as vulgar, demented and a cheap ploy to get a reaction, most of the comedians effectively use it as expressive punctuation in their jokes.  Gola makes some unsavoury comments about the very unfortunate Caster Semanye saga and parts of the audience giggle shyly; others are shocked into silence.  Following Gola, the British Simon Clayton, makes a similar scathing remark about Semanye and the audience hiss and boo at him. On cue Clayton says, “Oh it’s fine if one of your own makes fun of her, but not a foreigner, eh.”  There’s that turning mirror again; followed by more embarrassed laughter.

 Kira Soltanovich was born in the former Soviet Union and raised in San Francisco.  Her brand of female immigrant humour is intelligent, vulgar and very funny. Her good looks and eloquence is a boon.  She plays a leery female, does a little mini-pole dance that looks like a cat scratching its bum against a pole, and she shares an evocative slice of Russian culture.

 Then of course there is the German comedian, which in itself is very funny. It’s not often we find funny Germans on our shores. Michael Mittermeier, who has performed with U2 and has had more than 3000 solo performances since 1987, accurately picks up on some of our typical South African traits.  His skit involving a Mexican pot smoking cockroach that lives in Woodstock and is immune to insect repellent is hilarious.  His strong German accent comes across as very camp and it is enough to make you giggle uncontrollably.

Dean Edwards totally embodies New York.  He has featured as a cast member of Saturday Night Live and his performance is well rehearsed, slick and very cool.  He dresses up his handsome looks and lean body in trendy New York gear and is a pleasure to watch. 

Personally I am a little tired of hearing 9/11 and suicide bomber jokes. Unfortunately this constitutes the strongest part of Ahmed Ahmed’s performance.   Ahmed who was born in Egypt and raised in California is also a television and film actor.

The Russian American, Kira Soltanovich,

The Russian American, Kira Soltanovich,

Loyiso Gola’s comic brilliance is a reason for even the most sceptic South Africans to feel very patriotic.  Catch Gola on his one man tour across the country named, Gola for President. I wonder what South Africa would be like with a comedian for president? 

The Comedy Festival runs until 4 October at the Baxter Theatre.  Tickets are from R120 – R150.00.  Discounts are available for block bookings.  Book online through Computicket.


The End


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