Comedy Fest stands up for comedy

Fest stands up for comedy

The comedy line-up of the National Arts Festival Fringe is (in)famous for keeping Grahamstown in good spirits.  The evergreen Raiders series is a Festival institution, and this year Nicholas Ellenbogen is back with The Mayan Raiders. For its ten-year anniversary Matthew Ribnick’s Chilli Boy also returns to the Festival, where it enjoyed its first performance. Also celebrating a 10th anniversary is Slick ‘n Sleeve’s Starwors: The Final Parody.

Described as Jeff Dunham meets Monty Python, Andrew Simpson will reflect on the weird and wonderful world of Angels and Aliens. In other extra-terrestrial endeavors, The Evening Service, is a one-act musical comedy set in the sordid realm of fledgling cult The Holy Temple of Hashlah. Award-winning Durban actresses Mpume Mthombeni and Shika Budhoo ask who’s to blame for the end of the world in Dhaveshan Govender’s comedic take on Armageddon, Twelve. Josh Martin penned down the predicaments of a failing mortuary in Autopsy, whilst Brent Palmer delves into the consciences of two small-time thieves for some wry humour in Bench.

Festival hit Mark Palmer is back with Best Medicine, and also back for its final year in Grahamstown is Vanessa Harris and Ash Searle’s hugely popular Big Boys Don’t Dance. Staying on the theme of entertainment industry madness, Stacey Howell mixes it all up in Bitches be Crazy, and, not too far from that concept, Nicola Barbour is Bridezilla. Ash (Big Boys Don’t Dance) and Vanessa (Running Riot), the “perfect” couple, take off on a date night from hell exposing the foolish facts, highlights and low blows of a committed relationship in Love @ First Fight.

Gaëtan Schmid’s Body Language, directed by Lara Bye, will also be back after selling out in 2011 and Albany farming duo, Alan Weyer and Brian Mullins, return as Boet and Swaer, after 7 years of Festival drought. Along “same but different” lines, Sandi Dlangalala and Mike von Bardeleben are two Saffas, trying to escape their purgatory of the big city in search of the freedom of the waves in Bru.

Siv Ngesi, the knockout star of the Standard Bank Ovation Award-winning comedy Dekaf, is back with a brand new show, Race Card. Other Ovation award winners are Liam Magner and Grant Jacobs, who uncover some facts that were best kept under the rug in Paperboy; Stuart Taylor who explores the ups and downs on the roller-coaster ride of aspiration in Money’s too tight to mention, and Martin Evans and Rob van Vuuren who, as well as doing their hilarious solo shows (FBPK and Live!) team up to host Pants on Fire! – a late night comedy gig with guests like Andrew Buckland, Arno Carstens, Stuart Taylor, Chris Chameleon and Warren Robertson, amongst others.

For the 2012 edition of the popular Butlers series, a Bollywood movie star is thrust into an undercover operation in the household of a wealthy crime boss, in Butlers & Bunny Chows. After 13-years in standup comedy, and only three of those happy in love, Vittoria Leonardi wonders why so many relationships resemble the last moments of the Hindenburg in Vittorio’s Secret. Barbie Meyer and Graham van der Merwe get Caught in the Act, and Lynita Crofford plays a woman fast approaching 50 who is determined, after a decade’s drought, to embrace her sexuality in Sex in the Suburbs.

Flow Spot Productions’ Cooked delivers some unmissable theatrics, wacky recipes, and a gallon of mayhem and mess – hysterical fun for the whole family. South African ventriloquist, Conrad Koch, brings his critically acclaimed one-man show, Puppet Asylum. Typical of farce, Wrong Day survives on spontaneous reactions and corrections of mistakes, with Hamilton Dhlamini, Mandla Gaduka and Barileng Malebye.

What would the Fringe be without David Newton’s Best of Fest? He is also back with Dysfunctional. Another David, Kibuuka to be exact, will attempt to explain howDavid wasn’t built in a day; and in Discounted, The Mob presents a physical comedy about five shop workers who prepare for customers in a place where people have long gone. Etienne Shardlow’s comedy characters are unsavoury, bitter, dipped in sarcasm and served on a bed of whacky concepts in Etty Spaghetti.

Another show not setting any new cultural benchmarks or in fact teaching one anything at all, Funni Galore, is jam-packed with irreverence. Gino Fabbri and Donna Africa may or may not also be held responsible for Toasted Nuts. Graham Hopkins and Louise Saint Claire explore the potential of unlikely romance in Kissing Sid James.Jacobus van Heerden is Le Chop Royale, who goes all out with songs, skits, and guest appearances.

In Nothing funny, two dim-witted actors find themselves on stage without a script, only to find out that they are starring in a tragic masterpiece, with Joe Vaz and Damon Berry. One-Woman Farce is a new play written by Greg Homann for the formidable comic actress, Louise Saint-Claire. Handspring Award-winning company, The Space Behind The Couch, presents a steam-punk, Boer War, bromantic comedy about flying machines, assassination attempts, friendship and koeksisters, Out of Order.

Platteland Patriots is a multi-media journey into the psyche of South Africa. Using rare archival material the play takes a poignant and, at times hilarious, look at South Africa from the perspective of Herman Charles Bosman. Representing KZN in the national mix, four of Durban’s best stand-ups are a deadly comedic A-team, invading the Festival for a second year.

How does a small-town white boy become a big-city rap act? Iain Ewok Robinson explores the journey in Seriously?. Join The Brothers Streep for their debut full-length comedy show on their home ground, from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and appearances on The Graham Norton Show and SA Idols. Everyone’s Googled their own name before to see what comes up. Shika-Land!, a one woman show, presents the lives of five women named Shika who have done just that. The Neons Documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at theatrical duo, The Neon Anthems’ attempt at creating a sell-out show for the Festival – catch the premiere screening in Grahamstown.

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