Preview/interview: Alan Committie: No Contact Comedy: “He who laughs masked, laughs best”

“Performing a live streamed show is a way of establishing a comedy community- digitally – until things can change – and we can see each other back on the stage.” Alan Committie talking about performing his first lockdown comedy show, No Contact Comedy: “He who laughs masked, laughs best.”

Date: Saturday May 16, 2020


Time: 8.15pm

Duration: One hour

Tickets: R60

Booking: Quicket. Direct booking link: https://qkt.io/AlanCommittie

How it works: After purchasing your ticket, you will receive an e-mail with a link, which grants access to the show.

Devices: Link will work on Windows/Apple/Android

Fleur du Cap Theatre award winning theatre maker, Alan Committie is digitally staging his first lockdown show on Saturday night – May 16, 2020. He provides insights into how he is “digitally staging” this show. It is not being staged in a theatre but the production values that one associates with a Committie show are being brought into this streamed gig.

TheCapeRobyn: This is a live show?

Alan Committie: This is live. We going to shoot from a little home studio which means that we will use a couple of cameras, microphone and lighting. There will production values involved. It is not what one could get in a theatre, but this more than one would have if just shooting from a desk lamp in your lounge at home. You will see me standing. I will not be sitting during the show. I will be essentially playing to a camera, in this little studio. I think that it ups the game.

TheCapeRobyn: Audience participation is a signature element of your shows in a theatre context but that is not possible with a webinar format?

Alan Committie: We have not yet found a way to somehow pull people in – through their webinar connection into the show- without pre-setting that up – i.e. in real time. That is something that I will look at for the next show. For now, I am going to be doing a little bit of new material around my thoughts on Covid-19 and where we are at in these crazy times and re-work some nuggets from my previous shows.

I have 22 years’ worth of shows and material. I know that that material works. That’ll help on light of not being able to hear laughter or see responses from the audience. At times, I will be able to see comments but I don’t want to be just looking at the screen and just be reading off comments.

I am going to be trying to play the show straight to the audience, making contact through the camera, as it were; Engage with them – something more high energy and physical. People will see favourite bits and perhaps they will see material that they haven’t experienced before.

It is about pushing to add as much production value as we can under these tricky restrictions. I will bring my usual word-play. My trusty flipchart will be nearby- madcap ranting and perspectives on everyday foibles in a seemingly strange world and hopefully some crazy physicality. 

I am excited by the prospect that there is a new audience – around the country – who don’t live in Joburg or Cape Town who can tune in to watch. It is a new format. We –my colleagues and I in the comedy industry are learning as we are going along. I suspect that each of my shows will get better as I learn what works and what can be achieved with the technology.

TheCapeRobyn: A vital part of your shows is how you bring in pre-recorded footage, music and clips. Do you think that this is something that could be incorporated on this platform?

Alan Committie: At the moment I can’t jump between live and a recorded segment but watch this space. I think by show two -whenever that might be- we could be there.

TheCapeRobyn: A great deal of effort has gone into producing this show and the tickets are very reasonably priced?

Alan Committie: We are only charging R60: Sixty rand per viewing device.  If you have four people watching on a laptop or screen or TV, that is R15 a ticket. We are keeping the expectations ‘reasonable’.

TheCapeRobyn: This webinar lockdown comedy is very different to live performance?

Alan Committie: This is not the live comedy experience that you get on a theatre stage. It can’t be. It never will be- especially for someone like me who thrives on direct interaction with the audience. But what it can be is a ‘place-holder’ in these strange times: A place where you can have a little giggle; have a little laugh with family; watch it with other friends, also watching from their devices.  Performing a live streamed show is a way of establishing a comedy community- digitally – until things can change – and we can see each other back on the stage.

I see this purely as an intermediate step to help people connect and laugh and escape. It can never replace live comedy and theatre.

I am still hoping that I will be doing a show at the end of the year, at Theatre on the Bay, my year-end show. It will be the full show – with all the sketches – a Johan van der Walt sketch: All that stuff that we can’t do because we are limited by our resources, available technology or by internet connectivity. Having said all of that I think that this particular show strive to up the game from what it was.


 *Alan Committie’s No Contact Comedy: “He who laughs masked, laughs best” is on Saturday May 16 at 8.15pm.

Image credit: Supplied.