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A serious case of the giggles

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TO Alan2

No, Seriously?

CAST: Alan Committie

DIRECTOR: Chris Weare

VENUE: Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre

UNTIL: March 3

RATING: ***

Prepare for a committee of comical characters brought to life in Alan Committie’s newest one-man show.

No, Seriously?, which enjoyed a favourable run in Cape Town last year before coming to Montecasino, is (mostly) Committie in top form.

He expertly sets up his jokes by telling stories that really pay off at the end. Then he also enlists his long-time characters, Afrikaans fillem (sic) critic, Johan van der Walt, and international mentalist, Trevor Tahor, to entertain the audience while the real Committie takes a breather. So there is stand-up comedy and sketch work.

One of the best tools in Committie’s arsenal however, is his insistence on involving the audience in most of the fun. Where other comedians usually tell their gags and await applause or laughter, Committie talks with the audience and not at them.

He begins his set with spotting empty chairs or assuring puzzled members of the audience that the comedian has indeed arrived. He brings people on to the stage as part of his set and even introduces them to one another.

Also unlike any other comedian I have seen in the past year, Committie encourages people to tweet him jokes or send him SMSes asking questions or sharing their favourite jokes during the two-hour long show’s interval.

And people actually do it! He begins the second half by sharing what has been tweeted – although he admits that people tweet much less than text. And therein lies the root of why some of Committie’s material didn’t go down as well as it could have.

A quick scan around the room showed that the audience comprised mainly the kind of age group that would prefer to SMS than to use social media. So when the jokes turned to using Instagram-like filters on naturally beautiful imagery, the laughs weren’t as big as they were when he “decoded” words and their Latin origins.

Or when he presented physical comedy with his dance skits on a screen in the middle of the stage.

His technologically savvy side is lost on the luddites who don’t really get why we’re using an iPad to check blood pressure. But as far as the show goes, it was very well presented.

Four pop-up banners that show Committie covering a part of his body to illustrate the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” saying encircle him. The fourth banner shows Committie covering his crotch. When the lighting turns a deep blue, the banners almost look James Bond-esque.

On the title of the show, Committie takes to the stage to explain that “we use (the phrase) to deflect the stress” that we encounter daily in South Africa. Like living in a city that’s known to be slow and then having to drive behind slow tour buses.

But that’s about as far as the title stretches. Everything else is Committie’s observations on life, health, relationships and, interestingly, on modern literature (think 50 Shades of Grey) and our education system and how they can work together.

No, Seriously? is fun, especially if you like bringing your own jokes to the show, too.


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