Seven deadly comedians

2010-04-17 00:00

IF you’re easily offended and don’t like the idea of sitting through a movie littered with four-letter words, then don’t go and see Outrageous. If, however, you’re broadminded and enjoy a good laugh, I guarantee you’ll be royally entertained by a film that stars some of the country’s best stand-up comedians — John Vlismas, Barry Hilton, Riaad Moosa, Mark Banks, Krijay Govender, Loyiso Gola and Joey Rasdien.

This isn’t, however, a film like Spike Lee’s Kings of Comedy, which concentrated only on the stand-up performances.

Instead, Outrageous, which is cleverly directed by Bevan Cullinan, himself a comedian and director of television commercials, gives fans the chance to see how these guys get ready for their gigs — filmed at the underground comedy club Cool Runnings and at Carnival City in Johannesburg — and how they swop ideas and insults at brainstorming sessions.

As for the content … it’s hilarious and covers everything from Jacob Zuma’s wives to sex and childbirth. Will it offend some people, hell yes, but Cullinan is convinced the country can handle it.

“Seven or eight years ago [when the idea for this film first surfaced] the country wasn’t ready for this … but I firmly believe that if anyone buried a time capsule [with a DVD of this film in it] and dug it up in 2060 it would encapsulate the social and political landscape of South Africa in 2010,” he added.

One of his stars, Gola, a laidback giant of a man, who measures six foot five inches in old money, described the experience of filming Outrageous as “fun”, a vital ingredient in any job he chooses.

The Cape Town-born comedian, who happily admits to doing as little as possible when he’s at home, started doing stand-up shows while in Grade 11. “I “ “I did it for fun mainly,” he said. “I thought I might make a bit of money, you know, to buy shoes, buy airtime, but I wasn’t trying to make a living.”

And even today, a household name thanks to his critically acclaimed one-man show, Loyiso Gola for President, he will turn down gigs he thinks he won’t enjoy. “You have to love it, first and foremost. You don’t do it for the money,” Gola stresses.

With a style he describes as “opinionated rather than witty”, the Johannesburg-based comedian doesn’t pull any punches when on stage. In one scene in Outrageous, for example, he jokes that black people don’t read because under apartheid those that could would “probably be blown up by letter bombs”.

He also pokes fun at the way white folks will always ask for a full tank of fuel at a petrol station even if they’re driving a skedonk on its last legs. Black people, on the other hand, he says, will ask for R20 worth of fuel even if they’re driving a shiny new model.

Listening to him, it’s clear that Gola — who will be performing around the country in the comedy show Bafunny Bafunny in the lead-up to the Football World Cup — believes South Africans are mature enough to laugh at each other’s foibles.

Those same human frailties are also the butt of Riaad Moosa’s comedy. Much of this devout Muslim and qualified doctor’s humour is based around post-911 Islamaphobia and, in Outrageous, he asks the audience: “What did they think I was? A member of the comedic wing of Al-Qaeda?” after revealing he was subjected to a random search and interrogation at London’s Heathrow airport when he arrived in the UK on a temporary passport.

As for appearing in the film, Moosa, who attended the College of Magic in Cape Town and started out as a comedy magician, described it as “fascinating to be part of”. His only regret was that he wasn’t able to join the gang for their gig at Carnival City as he was performing in another show at the time.

Asked which is more fun to play — a large or small venue — Moosa said: “At a big venue there is so much energy … and you get instant gratification for your craft. But at a comedy club it’s more raw.

“It’s also where everything started, so it has a nostalgic element to it. It’s the place where you nervously waited to play to five or 10 people, mostly your friends. And it’s like a comedy gym where you can try new things, explore new ideas.”

Fans of the comic will be delighted to know that Moosa is finalising details for the release of DVDs of his shows Strictly Halaal and For The Baracka. He’s also hoping to do a tour of KwaZulu-Natal later this year. In the meantime, don’t miss his antics on screen in Outrageous at SterKinekor theatres.

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