It really is a Laughing Matter

That ruddy leotard is back… and with it comes the ever-hilarious Alan Committie. His new stand-up show, Laughing Matters, is at Theatre on the Bay until January 14. And whichever way you look at it, it’s simultaneously the best way to bring 2016 to a close, and get 2017 off to a riotous start.

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Directed by Chris Weare, this show once again sees Committie on top form. He’s engaging, hysterical and knows just how to work his audience. From a fleeting jab at the latest Doom debacle to his continuing frustration at the red City Sightseeing Buses, this show is packed full of one-liners, recurring gags and carefully plotted material.

It’s been a rather grotty year for many people, and Committie seems like the perfect antidote. From the safety of a padded cell (the most elaborate, and apt, set I’ve ever seen him in) he hurtles through a variety of topics, dragging his (all too willing) audience with him. His jokes are quick and clever. Some leave you only a second to chortle before he’s dashing headlong into the next. It’s a breathless show and it’s an enormous amount of fun.

From the preposterous amount of roadworks going on in the city over the festive season, to the appalling rise of skinny jeans – his observations are brilliant. In true Committie style he hurries through his material at a dizzying speed, looping back on himself, bounding along tangents and bringing it all back neatly with a manic little giggle. Utterly exhausting, and totally fabulous – I have no idea where he finds the energy.

And of course, what would an outing with Committie be without an appearance by the cringe-worthy Johan van der Walt? The hair, the flapping snorretjie… those teeth! This time he’s on hand with a collection on water saving tips – you might want to take notes. Even the foreigners in the audience screamed with delight.

Speaking of audiences… As with all comedy gigs, you’re bound to find something to be offended by if you’re that way inclined. But Committie’s comedy has never struck me as vindictive. He likes to have a good laugh at us South Africans and it’s a tonic, to be honest. It’s so easy to get all wound up in the seriousness of life, and people like him know exactly where the pressure points are to relieve some of that tension. Even 11-year-old Tatiana in the audience enjoyed his routine, although some of it may have gone over her head (we can only hope).

Whether you’re on a rare excursion from Pinelands, or you’ve trekked through from “Millerton” – Laughing Matters encourages us to laugh at ourselves. It has comedy by the bucket load, a little music, a touch of magic, a sprinkling of theatrics and great deal of festive cheer. Don’t wait, book now.

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Dangled – Cape Town Fringe

Some pieces of theatre need to sit for a while in the back of my mind before I can write about them. They need to percolate, simmer in my subconscious, while I slowly come to terms with them. Dangled is such a play. Now showing at Cape Town Fringe Festival, it’s uncomfortable, it’s intense, it’s a punch in the face.

Did I enjoy it? Not in the way you’d enjoy a rip roaring musical, all bright costumes and over-the top chorus numbers. But Dangled had far more of an impact. Would I see it again? Yes. Would I suggest others see it? Yes.

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Dealing with themes of sexual violence, abuse, insanity and the creative process, it’s 45 minutes of stark psychosexual theatre that has the audience hurling between hilarity and horror.

And Rob van Vuuren delivers one of his finest performances. A man on edge, inching closer to madness, reliving the past as hidden memories claw their way to the surface.

Louis Viljoen’s adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of A Madman, the play’s dialogue, almost Shakespearean, in tone and delivery, is sharp and witty. It sticks with you. Van Vuuren scoffing at his desk’s elevated position on “the spectrum of fat fuckedness” and later exclaiming “Yuckedy doodle fucksticks” – there are moments of guilty pleasure in this often harrowing piece.

Dangled doesn’t suddenly take a dark turn, it was dark from the start, it’s just a case of slowly letting the audience in on the horrific undercurrents.

Van Vuuren is captivating as a man losing touch with reality. He raves and spits, swears and gazes wistfully into memories.

Now, I’ve looked on, tickled, on more than one occasion as he’s thrust his crotch repeatedly into my husband’s face (Ahhh Twakkie, you gem). This, however, is a completely different animal. It’s raw, it’s ugly, it’s violent and fraught. And you cannot look away, you dare not.

It must be an incredibly draining role, physically and psychologically, and Van Vuuren truly deserved the standing ovation he got.

If you’re ready for something that pushes you to uncomfortable places, that digs in the dark recesses of the human condition, and is also astoundingly performed, then go see Dangled. It’s on at Cape Town Fringe from tonight until Saturday.