Review: The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival is back on the boards for a fab 2022 season- June 6 to July 3, 2022

What: 2022 Jive Cape Town Funny Festival
When: June 6 to July 3, 2022
Where: Pam Golding Theatre at the Baxter
Tickets: R210 and dsicounts for group bookings
Bookings: Webtickets

It was wonderful to be back at the Baxter in its recently branded Pam Golding Theatre, for 2022 edition of The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival. The festival was on hold, for two years because of the pandemic. Despite, limited seating restrictions in place, its producer Eddy Cassar, valiantly went ahead and has brought over international acts to be part of the 2022 come-back festival. The format of the funny festival is made up of stand-up comedy acts from South Africa, with variety/speciality acts from abroad. In terms of the latter, over the years, we have been treated to comedy-magicians, cabaret  and puppetry acts, comic piano players and so on. On the stand up side, we have been privileged to see amazing comics such as Trevor Noah (before he was very famous- he was always famous -even before he was famous) and others who have gone onto huge international careers. Key to the success of the Funny Festival is the mix of comedy and entertainment- variety acts- and a consummate host to calibrate the flow and make sure that there is no lag between acts. The brilliant Alan Committie is the host for 2022 and gives a warm welcoming opening set and then swiftly pivots, to introducing the other acts.

A hallmark of The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival is that Cassar ensures that sets are short – not more than ten minutes and that means that one is done by 10.30pm and not midnight as can be the case with other comedy festivals. One is left wanting more-in a good way. Alan Committie is in his usual fine form, working the first few rows, with participation from the audience. Pieter-Dirk Uys has famously said that with comedy, we get the opportunity to laugh at our fears. In this ongoing pandemic and world gone mad, with chaos and malaise, we need the release and relief of laughter and with observational comedy, there is tremendous catharsis.

The line-up of SA comics on Funny Festival includes Carl Weber, Ismail Moses, Charlene Petersen, Gauteng’s Sifiso Nene and Tats Nkonzo. Petersen was not on the night we attended. All the comics on the stand-up side delivered top notch sets. Their sets are reflective and reverberate with echoes of what most of us are feeling right now – flummoxed at the world and what is going on around us- the state of the nation, world, politics, race issues (thanks Tats Nkonzo). Committie congratulated Nkonzo for his Ted Talk. Awesome set. The material is likely to be different on each night, so I won’t reveal more about the sets but I must say I was amused that three of the comics (all male) raised the F issue- battling with fat- weight – in lockdown. Thank goodness, they didn’t share their recipes for banana bread.

Then we get to the variety/speciality acts for 2022 The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival – a sensation. I was blown away by puppeteers from Cabaret Decadanse, in Montreal, Canada. André-Anne LeBlanc and Alexandre Iannuzzi present a dance cabaret – with their bodies – becoming extensions of puppets. The puppets become extensions of the puppeteers. For example, there is a puppet and then the face of the puppet pops up on the one puppeteer and the other puppeteer becomes the body. It is shape shifting – movement, dance, melody; funny, beautiful and mesmerising. They did two numbers. I wanted more of this extraordinary melange of sensual cabaret, mirth and artistry. Street mime artist, Yosuke Ikeda was at Funny Festival, eight years ago and his back at the 2022 fest with his non-verbal tableaux/tribute to the music of The Beatles. It is a clever and witty set. Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist, Graeme Mathews is a consummate magician, known for doing so-called children’s magic for adults but he is also also a very funny stand-up comic, with great timing. On the night that we attended, there were issues with the sound of his mic. The result was a dazzling improv interlude between Matthews and Alan Committie. It was magic. Mathews had me in stitches with his balloon art.

I loved being at the 2022 Jive Cape Town Funny Festival. Go and have a laugh and be entertained. Some shows, may indicate ‘sold out’ on the website but note that this is Covid and there are cancellations because people may not be able to attend, last minute. It is worth checking with box office to see if there are ticket returns. Bravo to Eddy Cassar for bringing us an international comedy festival, during these challenging days, when theatres may only be seated at 50% capacity. Looking forward to the 2023 edition – already being planned.

❇ Featured image: International artists – Alexander Iannuzzi, Andre-Anne LeBlanc; Eddy Cassar (producer of Funny Festival) and Betty Siemers (Cabaret Decadanse from Montreal). Pic: © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.