Review: Cape Town Funny Festival In London

At the New Wimbledon Theatre until October 25

A great team of South African stand-up comedians provide a hugely entertaining evening – and you don't need to be a Saffa to enjoy it.

This riotous show, bringing Cape Town's annual comedy festival to London for just three nights, is a must-see for many of the South Africans living in the capital, particularly those clustered around SW19.

You could be forgiven for thinking the acts carry a risk of being too closely targeted on topical events and personalities in SA and assume too much local knowledge, making them opaque to outsiders. But the comedians carry it off well, with just enough in the way of explanation and concessions to keep it accessible.

A lot of the humour concentrates on keenly observed human behaviour, which resonates regardless of whether you're a Saffa, someone who has holidayed in the country or someone who simply would like to visit.

Issues of race and cultural difference are inescapable reference points that are tackled head-on by the group which includes a black man, a black woman, a mixed-race fellow with wild hair and two white guys (one Xhosa-speaking).

Some of it is close enough to the bone to cause genuine discomfort, but generally speaking the humour allows them to get away with it.

Also in dangerous territory, almost inevitably the show includes some outrageous takes on the Pistorious case, with the query “Too soon?” batted away nearly without blinking.

Alan Committie, in the role of MC, does a great job in getting the show going and keeping it together. He engages well with the audience from the start (be prepared to get on your feet early on – a neat trick for creating some energy in the room). In rapid-fire mode, he challenges you to keep up. His baiting of audience members can be cutting but never too brutal.

Siv Ngesi provides an athletic performance including a very funny take on dancing moves. His look at swimming behaviour is also a gem.

Marc Lottering is by contrast a slow burn. The mad humour comes through but it is not always immediate. Preoccupations with celebrities and status loom large, which clearly strike a chord with the audience.

The formidable Tumi Morake makes the most of her proudly large stage presence. Sometimes artful, sometimes intimidating, she gets a good response to her in-your-face brand of humour – even when it involves an unlikely compliment of sorts to Afrikaner manhood.

Nik Rabinowitz has a fascinating turn on language and a fine range in facial expressions and mimicry. Some clever stuff here – not necessarily roll-in-the-aisles funny but striking and hugely enjoyable all the same.

All in all a great night out – as long as you don't mind the sometimes raucous laughter of the mainly Saffa audience, who may respond more enthusiastically and vociferously than most.

By Roger Smith

October 24, 2014

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