The Highveld heat sucks at my eyeballs and the air snaps. There’s a thunderstorm seething on the horizon with all the distinctive cloud types: Cumulus, Nimbus and their badass cousins, Obvious and Serious.
So, where better to spend a perfect day like this than deep inside a shopping mall in a replica Irish pub? I’ve been hired to do a comedy show at “The One-Eyed Blarney Brain Bleacher” which sounds twee and ancient if you have the attention span of a Jack Russell terrier. This one is a venerable institution in my part of town. It started out as a furniture store in 2002, was recently renovated from the linoleum up and even predates the expansion of the car park. In Joburg that’s old.
I’m working, so I won’t be drinking the famous dark brew the Irish refer to as “The Blonde in the Long Black Dress”, but as I walk in I notice that this pub looks quite authentic. It even goes in for the genuine Irish tradition of employing an Afrikaans university student behind the bar. But there’s the age problem again. A barman should at least be older than the potato chips on the counter.
The Irish sense of humour is legendary and to prove it, someone has organised a karaoke competition. Karaoke singers appear to be otherwise sane citizens, but they’re cursed to screech seventies songs like Kate Bush yelling “Heathcliff!” on the moors (car park). They wander from bar to bar in search of someone who’s not too embarrassed to have a drink with them. Old friends who have shared acne, pregnancy and divorce abscond during the second chorus and they’re left by themselves trying to sing all the Beach Boys harmonies simultaneously. Anyone who’ll do this is probably immune to anything I say, but please. See a doctor. Emigrate. Just. Shut. The. Hell. Up!
I introduce myself to the barman who decides that as a comedian, I need to hear a joke. This is how he tells it:
“Two Irish farmers (apparently with the same Roodepoort accent) are on a tractor ploughing a field. At the same time, a guy is driving his new sports car along the nearby country road and decides to see how fast it’ll go. As he reaches top speed, he meets the Irishmen leaving the field. Without looking out for traffic, they turn into the road, blocking the way with their tractor. He swerves, crashes through the fence and his car explodes in the ploughed land.One farmer says to his mate, “Did you see that?”
“Sure,” replies his mate, “Lucky for us we got out of that field just in time!”
I didn’t laugh either.
The barman shrugs and takes his turn at the karaoke machine. He’s got a great voice and soon the patrons are joining in and dancing wildly, Irish style. Then I do chuckle with sheer delight, because I’ve discovered another reason why I enjoy this city. The architecture may be recent and obviously fake, like the cosmetic breast surgery, but where else do the locals ever do the Riverdance to Kurt Darren’s “Loslappie”?
Al Prodgers is a proudly South African stand-up comic and experienced corporate MC. His mission is to get us to Lighten Up for a Change by focussing on the powerful potential that we all have for making a positive difference in the world.
Al was a finalist in the prestigious international comedy competition, the Yuk Yuks Great Canadian Laugh Off, but his great love is touring throughout South Africa performing in English and Afrikaans.
Al is a truly abysmal golfer.
TV work includes Isidingo, Zooming in on Men as well as the MNet Africa series, Stand Up Zambia and Stand Up Uganda.
To read more of his comedic musings or book Al for your next event follow the links alongside.