Poptartology: Death by Cape Town

2013-06-09 08:00

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Poptarts of the week: Anne Hirsch and Oliver Hermanus

South Africa’s latest satirical web series, a rather hilarious and highly questionable weekly news dump, is the brainchild of award-winning arthouse filmmaker Oliver Hermanus and stars comedian Anne Hirsch.

Before they get taken out by a humourless celebrity, I have decided to name them poptarts of the week for their new show #Foblo Bulletin.

Oliver Hermanus. Picture: Gary Van Wyk

Anne Hirsch

Opening with a Chinese voice-over and a grotty little clock, the narrator of the #Foblo Bulletin’s second episode – released this week - explains what that means in the first place. Foblo is short for “fear of being left out” in Cape Town.

If #Foblo Bulletin was on TV it would elicit death threats, attract legal action and probably end up being censored. But because it’s on the internet nobody can touch it – though I wouldn’t count out the death threats.

If you don’t believe me, watch this week’s Foblo for yourself. It’s NSFW, you’ve been warned.


In Foblo, the heavy smoking, beer downing Ruder Landman (Hirsch) battles a questionable wigged bob and an intrusive pot plant while trying to stay in her chair and read from the teleprompter.

This is a guide to nightlife in Cape Town, where you can “expect a notable lack of fat people and the odd black face”. It reports from Cavendish Square, “home of the sexually frustrated Jenni Button-clad moms”, and offers financial indicators – the price of beer, red wine and bankies of dagga at various trendy joints. It even offers the weather: “Don’t be lazy, you can Google that.”

I called Hirsch up this week and asked what the hell she was thinking. “Ah, yes. This. This is the brainchild of Oliver Hermanus,” she replied. “He writes the script. I take out anything that might get me locked up.”

Why includes questioning several semicelebrities’ sexuality, mocking numerous films and being very rude about documentaries. As in: “The bastard child of cinema, known to many as documentary comes to town this Saturday when the anal- I mean annual - Encounters Film Festival kicks off this Saturday.”

“That anal joke was totally by accident,” said Hermanus when I called him up. “A lot of the jokes are innocent mistakes from Anne trying to read the teleprompter. It’s harder than it looks.”

I ask him why he made #Foblo and he says: “Because I wanted to take the piss out of the Cape Town that I know. I was writing feature films and I felt like taking a break. And also because I’m actually a sarcastic, rude bitch and I always have been.”


I turn the subject to whether he’s received any threatening calls yet. After all, the latest episode says comedian Rob van Vuuren’s latest movie is crap, calls Gareth Cliff “our favourite polysexual mouth organ – or as his friends call him, ‘lord of the naked selfie’ – seen it myself” and refers to entertainment reporter Nicky Greenwall as a “celebrity impersonator” before launching into a skit of her possessed by a demon.

“There’ve been no freak-outs,” said Hermanus, “but it’s really just early adopters who have been watching it so far.”

In fact, the opposite has happened.

“It’s probably been sold,” says Hermanus. “We’re currently in the process of negotiation to have the next six months of episodes bought.

“They’ve said they’ll leave the content as is. It’ll probably be established as an online show using an app. It couldn’t be on television. There are way too many laws when it comes to broadcast.”

Hirsch had news of her own. She’s in the middle of the second season of The Anne Hirsch Show, in which she plays a self-obsessed “retarded Ellen type” interviewing celebrities but caring more about herself than them. This week she released her interview with the only other big name stand-up in the industry, Tumi Morake.


Hirsch braves the big question: is it tough for women stand-ups in a male environment? All sorts of emotions are brought to the fore and the women weep and wail and collapse in a heap, overcome by the emotion of their difficult situation.

When I got hold of her, Hirsch was at the airport heading for a meeting with a Gauteng radio station who are looking to buy The Anne Hirsch Show as a radio property.

“We did a pilot and sent it to them,” she said. “I’ve been doing this with Zooty Studio as a labour of love. It would be great if we could get some sponsorship. I would love it to be on television and have a radio show and do Foblo. I’m also not opposed to starring in a movie or having my autobiography adapted to screen.”

I ask her where she gets her funny bone from.

“My dad thinks he’s funny. My mom’s incredibly funny. More importantly, I’m an only child. My weird sense of humour comes from the fact that I was encouraged to show off and be the centre of attention. It’s fabulous for me even though it’s a bit unfortunate for others.”

Her only fixed job has been to work as a writer on the puppet satire ZANews, but it’s currently waiting for its contract to be renewed “in case TopTV decides to do puppet porn”.

So Hirsch – who emerged on the scene when she beat out a bunch of brothers to win season two of the reality show So You Think You’re Funny – has struck out on her own like a good poptart.

She and Hermanus have just one mission: to make Cape Town stop taking itself so damn seriously. You can do it, Cape Town, work with them.

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