No ref. No rules. No cure for the common laughter.
First published in the Callsheet – April 2010 http://www.thecallsheet.com

Outrageous, a no holds barred film about a gang of renegade stand-up comedians, ready to offend the sensitive viewer, will be unleashed upon South African audiences during April. The film is hosted by John Vlismas and features Barry Hilton, Riaad Moosa, Loyiso Gola, Mark Banks, Joey Rasdien and Krijay Govender, in a mocumentary styled look at the madness that takes place before, during, and after a gig. The film also offers a glimpse into the quixotic mind of the stand-up and it explores what lies beneath the façade of these giggle factories.

Bevan Cullinan, who completed his Honours in Twentieth Century clowning at Rhodes University, and then honed his stand-up comedian skills, directs the film. He is now also a prolific performance and comedy director. Bevan’s direction of the three DStv ‘Guess Who’s Been Watching?’ commercials has been applauded worldwide.

The film is produced by Anant Singh and Helena Spring, and co-produced by John Vlismas. John says Anant Singh phoned him a few years ago to say he wanted to make a movie which is ‘kind of inspired by The Kings of Comedy’.

“Anant wanted to know if we could get started immediately,” remembers John. “Well its 9 years later and I think our timing can’t be better. I looked around for a director and I decided to work with Bevan who has a solid grounding as stand-up comedian himself.”

The next step for John and Bevan, with input from Anant Singh, was to find the right comedians for the project – which proved to be challenging. “There are so many comedians who could’ve been in the movie,” Bevan recalls. “We had to look at the comedians as characters. We did not want to just make an HBO special where you have an hour and a half show with 9 cameras running. There’s a lot more happening in this movie. You get a glimpse of the madness and crazy banter that happens at the gigs. We had to get comedians with a variety of styles and who will have the right chemistry when you throw them in a room together. They had to be funny on and the stage. Bevan explains the importance of demographics. “Take Loyiso Gola, a black man in his 20’s, and put him right up against Barry Hilton, a white dude in his 50’s, and you get comic moments that evolve naturally,” he says. “That’s what we were looking for. Throw in someone like Joey Rasdien as a clown, you always need a clown, and the laughter just flows.”

Bevan explains that the script was written in the edit. “The script started out as a 9 page document that John and I wrote,” says Bevan. “We set up a kind of a construct of how we visualised the film and how we were going to get the material out of the comedians. The film started to tell its own story. We did not want to do a remake of Kings of Comedy. What sets Outrageous apart is that we deliberately seeked out universal links between the various comedians’ work and then we started threading these similar ideas together which became a narrative. What you see of the comedians are the highlights of all their sets over the month or so.” Bevan says they also filmed the comedians telling stories on the bus and sharing jokes during interval. “We show the guys shitting themselves before the show,” says Bevan. “The guys become quite contemplative. It demystifies the process of stand-up somewhat.”

The movie is also largely about taking the comedian out of a small, intimate venue and moving him onto a massive stage such as the Big Top at Sun International’s Carnival City, where the big venue scenes were filmed. “There is a huge difference between a big and a small venue,” he explains. “It’s like Mark Banks always says, ‘It is the difference between playing table tennis and lawn tennis.’ People not only get to see the funny stuff but they can also see how the style changes between the venues.” The small venue, where some of the scenes were shot, is the Comedy Underground in Melville, which started in April 2001; and the club which had a surprise visit from Chris Rock who wanted to test his material there.

Bevin says the movie soundtrack is filled with Hispanic rap, electronic beats, big beat, drum n bass and rap. “We used the music to score the film,” he explains. “It’s not really like you can go and buy the sound track. The music is a support. Earlier on we’d spoken to Goldfish. They were very keen, but they already had a commitment overseas. It worked out fine anyway because the way we started cutting the music would not have worked with extended music pieces.

Outrageous premiers 20 March and will be released Nationwide on 9 April. It is a Videovision Entertainment production in association with Distant Horizon and Successful Film Production Company (Pty) Ltd.

Visit http://www.outrageousthemovie.co.za for more info.

Astrid Stark

The End

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