Culture of comedy celebrated

Kagiso lediga
Kagiso lediga

Talent from this continent as well as abroad converged on Jozi for a three-day laughing festival. The Johannesburg International Comedy Festival boasted 40 comedians performing at various venues at the Joburg Theatre precinct in Braamfontein.

Comedians are really going for it and it is lovely to see the number of shows and festivals happening around the country. The line-up for the festival seemed to include anyone making a name for themselves in the world of humour.

The well-attended opening night took the form of a theatrical show that saw acts like Kagiso Lediga, Loyiso Gola, Ntosh Madlingozi, Mojak Lehoko and Rob van Vuuren – to name just a few – share one stage. They took part in a weird mock award show that was comprised of skits that touched on everything from fake pastors to slay queen culture.

It was a rather good laugh and the inclusion of actors like Desmond Dube, Pearl Thusi and Warren Masemola was a stimulating touch.

Pearl Thusi and Mpho Popps

Festival director Takunda Bimha said he would describe the opening night as a variety show.

“These are common overseas, but we hardly see them happen here. It was also theatrical, and everyone involved really got behind the idea of starting the festival in a different way. It was like theatre meeting variety, a celebration of our crazy country, taking it off the streets and putting that in the theatre,” he said.

“We really wanted the audience to immerse themselves in comedy. We grow up with funny people and funny stories around us, and this is a giant celebration of how large a role humour plays in our lives.”

Bimha said they didn’t have an awfully long time to coordinate the execution of this show but after seeing how the crowd reacted to it, there are plans to tweak the idea and perhaps have it as a stand-alone production of its own.

The rest of the festival, which ended last night, was more of the traditional stand-up with themed nights for each show.

Bimha has been around comedy for a long while now. “I’ve been in comedy for 15 years. I started as a producer on The Pure Monate Show and so I was around the cream of the crop of local comedy,” he said.

Ntosh Madlingozi
Desmond Dube

This man has also managed talent like Trevor Noah and Lediga, to name but two. After taking some time to travel, Bimha realised the standard of African comedy was high and he wanted nothing more than to give this talent a strong platform, a seat at the table.

“All our lives we consumed British and American humour. That is until Trevor, who has helped give the world an idea of African humour,” said Bimha.

What steps have they taken to ensure this festival was the best one yet?

“We’ve moved to the Joburg Theatre, which is now the home of the festival. The whole precinct is amazing and it enhances the profile of the festival,” Bimha said.

He hopes the audiences were well entertained and left after enjoying a unique experience, which the gala evening certainly was.

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