STAND-UP COMEDY FESTIVAL/CAPE TOWN: The Mother City Comedy Festival, Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, February 11-29, 2020

The Mother City Comedy Festival, Baxter, Cape Town: preview/interview with Stuart Taylor 

The festival at a glance:

✔️ Date: February 11-29

✔️ Venue: Baxter Golden Arrow Theatre.

✔️ Format: 45 comedians performing in 35 shows over three weeks. Solo and ensemble shows on bill.

✔️ Performance schedule: two slots a night and three shows on Saturdays and Sundays.

✔️ Tickets: R120-R150

✔️ Bookings:

This is the 2nd edition of the festival which premiered last year (2019). Once again the producers are Stuart Taylor and Siv Ngesi 

The format of The Mother City Comedy Festival differs from generic stand-up comedy festivals and showcases: A headline act, opening act, closing act, bookended by a host. On The Mother City Comedy Festival platform, most shows take the form of solo presentations. Some shows feature an ensemble format with up to three artists performing. For the ensemble shows, the artists are working together; rather than merely presenting sets which are strung together by a host. They have \ put the show together for the festival. This is very different to a usual comedy club format, where artists frequently do not know who is on a bill on a particular night and each set is very much a stand-alone gig.

A vital part of The Mother City Comedy Festival is about providing a platform for solo shows, within a festival format- providing an opportunity for people to catch shows that they missed or see shows which have been staged out of Cape Town. For instance, Late Bloomer by Nik Rabinowitz was on during the festive season at the Baxter and it will be presented for one night at the festival. So, if you were away or didn’t get there because you were on the beach, now is your chance to see Late Bloomer. 

Soli Philander’s Nice Coat/Lekker Jas was staged for a short season in 2017 and received rave reviews. If you missed it, now you can see it or see it again. It is an impressive piece of satirical stand-up theatre. 

Stuart Taylor is bringing back his much loved show, Learner Husband, for one night only on Valentines Night in the 7.15pm slot. This is date night comedy relationship shtick. Keeping with the love theme, Simmi Areff will be holding forth about Love and Other Stories in the 2nd slot of the evening from 8.45pm.

As for the rest of the solo shows in the programme, most are new shows – presented for the first time – at least in Cape Town.

Stuart Taylor answers:

TheCapeRobyn: This is the 2nd year of this festival – which was launched in 2019- and which was a big success, and here you are back again?

Stuart Taylor: It was phenomenally successful… so much so that we added an extra week of shows. That’s a full 11 additional shows. The enthusiastic response from the comics wanting to be a part of the festival was also encouraging.

TheCapeRobyn: Does the same format follow for 2020 –with a combo of solo and ensemble shows?

Stuart Taylor: Correct. On the ensemble side, we’ve added some musical comedy with The Brothers Streep, an ensemble Afrikaans show as well as sketch based comedy with social media star Simon Orgill along with Kenwyn Davids and Yaseen Barnes in ’The Talk K*K show live’

TheCapeRobyn: Most shows are one-offs. Which ones are repeated? 

Stuart Taylor: Daniel Richards (performing material by Mike van Graan), Daniel Richards, Day Zero (Carl Weber, KG Mokgadi, Yaseen Barnes, Dalin Oliver), The Goliaths Live (Nick Goliath, Jason Goliath, Donovan Goliath), Not Just a Radio Show (Carl Weber, Dalin Oliver) all have two performances.

TheCapeRobyn: This festival is modelled on a comedy fest in New Zealand. The thrust is on providing a platform for solo shows in a festival format?

Stuart Taylor: The thing I’ve taken mainly from NZ is how the industry really comes out to support the locals as opposed to giving their best venues and spots to the visitors. There are a lot more big ensemble shows and a big international component in NZ that we will eventually grow to include.

TheCapeRobyn: artists have the opportunity to present solo shows in a comedy festival format which is great. Which shows in your festival are new solo shows – or at least – which haven’t been staged in Cape Town?

CJ Benson, Mel Jones and Shimmy Isaacs are returning with updated versions of the shows they did last year (2019). Day Zero returns but it’s about an 80% improvised show.

The rest of the shows are all having their debut.  I’m doing “Learner Husband 2.0 0 -Fully revised’ on Valentine’s day which is a new take on the show I did about a decade ago’

TheCapeRobyn: Only one venue is being used at the Baxter, so one can see two shows, back to back? 

Stuart Taylor: You could definitely squeeze in a drink between two shows. We limit the first show to 55 mins.

TheCapeRobyn: Anything else to add about the 2020 edition of The Mother City Comedy Festival?

Stuart Taylor: We really hope Cape Town comes out in support of their own this season. You see these guys perform short sets at clubs all the time, now get to see them stretch their legs in a full show.

The photo on this post is of Shimmy Isaacs. She is performing her solo show, Moenie. Pic: supplied.