Paper, piano and towel fun
The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, delivered by Turkish Airlines, will warm you this winter, writes Bianca Coleman
EVERY winter the Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, delivered by Turkish Airlines, pulls in to the Baxter Theatre for a month with a show filled with comedy, variety and speciality acts from South Africa and abroad.
The cast of South African greats for 2016 includes Marc Lottering, Alan Committie, Glen Biderman-Pam, Gino Fabbri, Carl Wastie, Yaaseen Barnes, and The Big Boys. From July 21 they will be joined on stage by the world’s only living paper cartoon and “comic origamist”, Ennio Marchetto from Italy; and the UK’s top classically trained pianist turned comedian, Kev Orkian. Both these acts are feathers in festival founder Eddy Cassar’s hat.
Marchetto was last here in 2007, and Cassar has been trying to secure him for years. Eventually he gave up because the artist could never make it. Then Marchetto called him to ask if he could come to Cape Town. His act is incredibly clever, utterly brilliant, and performed with no dialogue. Humorous yes, but how does it fit in with the Funny Festival?
If you’ve not been before – this year is the 12th festival – the show is a combination of elements because Cassar says he learnt very quickly that audiences simply cannot laugh non-stop for 90 minutes.Kev Orkian is a guy with funny bones, says Cassar. “He developed his skills around Victor Borge and is the top piano comedian in the world. His act is just spectacular.”
I asked Cassar how he keeps the festival fresh, and why it manages to achieve a month-long sold-out season in winter, when Capetonians notoriously hibernate.
“I am humbled and flabbergasted we get an audience every year, and terribly grateful, Cassar says. “We respect the audience in numerous ways and present comedy at a different level, and secondly, the show is always different.”
This year, the wardrobe requirements have gone one step further with a Carducci sponsorship and all the comedians will be elegantly suited. “It’s a thank you to the performers as well,” says Cassar. I can appreciate this; every man looks good in a well-cut suit.
Another way to respect the audience is that no swear words are allowed. “Not on my stage,” asserts Cassar. Not because he is a prude, no not at all, but he feels the theatre-going audience is that small, there is no reason to make it smaller by offending and alienating them.
Glen Biderman-Pam is a young up-and-coming comic from Johannesburg and a fantastic actor, says Cassar. “All fantastic actors don’t get enough work so they do comedy and his observational style is so good. He does a piece on cricket that is just magnificent.
“Gino Fabbri is an impersonator from Port Elizabeth. Has a range of 10 characters and I’ve asked him to do two.”
Then there are the Big Boys.It’s a naked towel dancing act. Wait, what? Are they really naked?
“Yes Bianca, they are really naked,” Cassar assured me. “But you see nothing. They dance and interact with the towels and never drop them...then one does...”
Apparently the dress code does not apply to them. And if there is anything better than a man in a suit, it’s two men in towels.
The Funny Festival runs from Monday till August 7 at the Baxter Theatre. Tickets are R170 available through Computicket. Generous discounts are offered with bulk bookings. The festival supports numerous charities either by offering generous bulk discounts to clubs, schools and civic associations, who use it as a fund raiser or by supporting the Children’s Hospital Trust and the Mayoral Fund.
For more information see www.eddycassarpr.co.za