Funny fes­ti­val laugh­ing all the way to the bank

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - AN­DREW ROBERT­SON

TWENTY years ago, pub­li­cist Eddy Cas­sar never dreamt his funny fes­ti­val would be de­scribed as Cape Town’s big­gest com­edy fes­ti­val.

Cas­sar has proven the funny busi­ness is a money busi­ness like any other.

Back for its 13th in­stal­ment, the Jive Cape Town Funny Fes­ti­val will take place from July 10 to Au­gust 6 at the Bax­ter The­atre.

Its stel­lar line-up of acts con­sists of in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed co­me­di­ans Cap­tain Frodo (Nor­way), Mario, Queen of the Cir­cus ( US) and Paul Dabek (Eng­land). Lo­cals standups in­clude Alan Com­mit­tie, Marc Lot­ter­ing, Loy­iso Madinga, Dalin Oli- ver, Ndu­miso Lindi, Mel Jones and Daniel Mpilo Richards. Hav­ing a pub­lic re­la­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions back­ground has been key for the busi­ness, but how has he sus­tained a fes­ti­val of this mag­ni­tude for so long? “There is no doubt com­edy is a hobby, and brand build­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and PR is a job. So it’s a nice com­bi­na­tion. “In this busi­ness it be­comes im­por­tant to be pro­fes­sional with spon­sors in col­lect­ing money… Those busi­ness skills as­sisted in the project’s longevity. It cer­tainly is a busi­ness. Co­me­di­ans are the ul­ti­mate entrepreneurs; they are sell­ing their skill and they have to do all the busi­ness ad­min, all the mar­ket­ing, ev­ery­thing them­selves. It’s a busi­ness ven­ture, but at the end of the day it gives me a thrill to take an un­known name and show­case it. Peo­ple start earn­ing money from their hobby, it’s a fan­tas­tic thing to see.”

Start­ing his busi­ness post-1994 was smooth sail- ing for Cas­sar be­cause there was “an ex­plo­sion” of lo­cal tal­ent.

“All I did was ba­si­cally har- ness that ex­plo­sion of this new art form and show­case it. I never ex­pected the re­ac­tion from the pub­lic and I never thought it would last for 20 years.

“To be a funny per­son is just not enough, you have to have en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills… There are nu­mer­ous comics in this coun­try who make a hand­some liv­ing through their skill.” The fes­ti­val will host 30 shows and by the end of it about 19 000 peo­ple would have seen them. Over the years, Cas­sar has scouted for lo­cal co­me­di­ans on the un­der­ground scene. “There is a strong un­der­ground com­edy scene, es­pe­cially in tav­erns and she­beens and al­ter­na­tive ar­eas such as Ob­ser­va­tory. I am in­ter­ested in ex­pos­ing the guys who are work­ing in she­beens and tav­erns and have de­vel­oped their own net­work of venues in those ar­eas.”

Cap­tain Frodo

Dalin Oliver

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