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Stand-up comedy is an art only certain people can master. A lot of people think they can do it, but it takes an imaginative, amusing mind like Monique Nortje’s (pictured) to tickle people’s funny bone. And she does it in stripper heels.
She is one of the phenomenal women who performed in the show, Bitches, an all-girl stand-up show at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City.
The show ran for two hours including a 20 minute interval. Each one of the women rose to the occasion and really brought their A-game, according to Nortje. They played to a full house every night.
“It was incredible to share the stage with five hard-working, determined women, it was truly an incredible experience,” she said.
Nortje is performing in Queenz of Comedy as part of Vasati, the State Theatre’s festival to celebrate Woman’s Month. She will be in the house on Saturday night.
Participating in women’s empowerment events with other comediennes always excites her and happens so rarely, that is why she immediately said “yes” to this gig. Everyone has an opinion about being a comedienne in this country. Nortje thinks all it means is that she gets to stand in longer queues at the public toilets and wear her favourite shoes which also happen to be her most uncomfortable pair.
Being a comedienne makes her a rarity, which is a plus in the entertainment industry, she shared.
She spent Women’s Day in the comfort of her home doing absolutely nothing and thoroughly enjoyed herself.
Nortje writes her own material and gets some from her audience.
“The joy of stand-up comedy is to say the things you really want to say. The only censor is your audience. You can go as far as they will let you.
“Nobody but my audience tells me what I can or can’t say. I also think it is a huge mistake to under-estimate South Africans; they are far more evolved then they’re given credit for by much of the industry.”
Her inspiration comes from anybody who has managed to make a living in this industry while being true to their craft. She didn’t plan on becoming a comedienne.
A friend entered her for an open mic competition which she won and the next thing she knew, she was part of the funny game.
“I was an eisteddfod kid, did ballet, tap and modern dance and lots of speech and drama stuff. I studied drama at the University of Pretoria and have since been working in the industry for 13 years.
“I am primarily now a stand-up comedienne, but I also write sitcom for television and write and direct educational theatre. I also act and work as a voice-over artist,” she explained.
She has a three legged-cat who makes her smile. On the dark side, she has a phobia of needles and dying alone and being found a week later with her cat eating her face.
She urges anyone to sit on a street corner in Joburg for 15 minutes and guarantees someone will have them in fits of laughter.
“We live in a funny country, I know a lot of funny people from here.”
She wishes she could make the world a better place by making everyone happy.
“Happy people are nice and comedy makes people happy. Laughter is the best medicine… unless you’re suffering from diarrhoea.”
• Tshwane Comedy Night – Queenz Of SA Comedy starring Shirley Kirchman, Nonkululeko Mthethwa, Lihle Lindzy and Monique Nortje, Saturday, 8pm. R60 to R80 at Computicket.