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The annual Nando’s Comedy Festival crossed the road and kicked off the nationwide fest in Durban last night. With the likes of Mitch Fatel, Brian Haner, Christina Pazsitsky as well as David Kau and Finesse Mitchell as hosts on the bill, this is going to be a month of laughs.
Lil Rel and Loni Love will join the festival for the Soweto and Cape Town legs. It’s expected that the Nando’s Festival will bring out peri peri hot talent (we’re not talking about looks here, folks) and this go-around, its in the form of Finesse Mitchell.
I got the former Saturday Night Live cast member, current star of the Disney Channel’s A N T Farm and stand-up comedian on the horn.
Durban is treating him well, he muses, “mmmm, it’s great. This is the first time I’ve been so far away from home and I get to be near the ocean. We’re even about to go for massages.”
Before I’m through quizzing him about pampering, Mitchell stops me mid-sentence: “Hold on one second for me,” it’s clear he’s held the phone away from his mouth but I hear him go, “Ey! Ey! How do you spell thief? What? Ok, T-H-I-E-F? Got it.” Then silence. “Are you still here?”
I ask the American comedian what that was all about. I mean, it’s only two days since he’s been in the country, a case of theft would not be a good look for us. “Oh,” he laughs, “It’s the monkeys here at the hotel. They climb up and jump over the wall and steal the sugar packets on the table.”
Third World problems. Anyway, Mitchell sounds reasonably chuffed about being one of the hosts with the most and says while he’s a fan of Fatel and Kau, the latter is “one funny man”.
The Atlanta-raised, Los Angeles based Mitchell is probably most well-known for his bit about ghetto names. He says his mom christened him Finesse because “she’s ghetto! She had me at 16 and after seeing a shampoo commercial she named me after the shampoo”. I’m not taken by his line. Nor by his explanation of why this divorced man saw fit to pen a relationships book aimed at African American women called Your Girlfriends Only Know So Much.
Hey, if Steve Harvey could get away with it. Mitchell tells me his mom is actually very supportive of him and his career and was even at the first taping of his One Man Monster Comedy show which is executive produced by Russell Peters and will be released soon. And the book?
“People never really ask me how I could give advice if I’m divorced,” he says, “because the book isn’t about how to stay together. It’s a relationships advice book that is about making the best decisions for yourself. [African-American women] make bad choices with the men they’re not compatible with and they end up getting the short end of the stick.”
While he’s keen on adapting the book into a film, Mitchell says he’s got no leading ladies or gentlemen in mind yet.
However, should he decide to write another book, the funny man jokes that “I’m going to write a book called Just Because You’re Pregnant Don’t Mean We Can’t Have Sex.” Well, alright.
• The Nando’s Comedy Festival is at Durban’s Playhouse Theatre until Sun day.
It moves to Montecasino in Joburg from Monday to August 26 before debuting at the Walter Sisulu Hall in Soweto on August 30 and September 1. The comedy festival’s run finishes at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town between September 3 and 9. Tickets are priced from R150 at Computicket.