It’s a serious business, comedy.
Get it wrong and you can die on stage in front of a stony-faced audience. But if the comics tickle your funny bone, there’s really not much better than a rip-roaring night of stand-up comedy.
Joburg’s dedicated comedy club is Parker’s at Montecasino, where I’ve had some great nights out but some appalling duffers too, when the cocky ‘comics’ are so dire that you’re cringing as you order another drink, hoping a higher intake of alcohol will make things funnier.
Parker’s has matured brilliantly though, and while you still pay your money and take your chance, the quality is getting ever stronger.
A recent line-up saw hilarious local comic Nik Rabinowitz headlining, with his offbeat blend of Jewish-Xhosa-Afrikaans jokes and sketches. Even though I’d heard some of his gags in his uNik one-man show, they were just as funny the second time.
One complete surprise was Tats Nkonzo, a young, intelligent and hugely likeable guy who’s also incredibly funny. He sings well too, and gave us some re-writes of those soppy songs that give us girls such unrealistic expectations of love. A song about making love all night gets cut short as he falls asleep half way through the lyrics. I’ve never heard of Tats before, but I’ll track him down again.
The opening act was the UK’s John Newton, an older, more cynical, ordinary looking bloke who delivers thoughtful, sometimes convoluted jokes and word plays. He’s moving onto the next gag before half the audience laughs at the one that almost got away.
MC for the evening was Dave Levinsohn, a jolly one-of-the-boys compere who set the pace perfectly as he drew audience members into the show with witty rapport that’s entertaining, not insulting. He’s a great ad libber, and funny enough to almost be forgiven for playing the voice of the ugly dog in those awful Toyota commercials.
All the comics gave us sharp, witty observations on life, and with their lives all being so different from each other’s the variety was enormous. The whole show was that rare event of thinking-man’s comedy. Not the coarse, crude staff where second-rate comics get their laughs by making every other word a swear word, until even foul-mouthed viewers like me are thinking it’s not big and it’s not clever.
Parker’s is brilliant venue, with an intimate nightclub feel, a well-stocked bar and basic food like burgers and tramezzini to feed your stomach as well as your mind. There are plenty of tables in the front for those who dare, and loads of tables, chairs and bar stools scattered further back for cowards who want to avoid the firing line.
The main area is cleared away for dancing after the show, when everyone gets down to some classic disco hits. It’s a great night out – as long as the line-up of comics gets you guffawing rather than groaning.
For more reviews follow the links alongside.