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What’s in a name? For Cape Town comedienne Angel Blythe Campey, the answer is: a punchline.
If you’ve ever seen her perform, you’ve heard Campey introduce herself and with a goofy smile and roll of the eyes explain that naming your child Angel is like setting them on a path to becoming a stripper. At this point, the audience usually settles in to being putty in her hands as she tells tales of her travels overseas and observations of the opposite sex.
On a rainy day in the Mother City, I caught up with Campey after she had put in a few hours helping her mother pack up house as she prepares to move back to Durban, where the comedienne was born. The funnywoman seems sad that her mother is moving coasts: “Now where will I leave my car when I have to go to the airport?” she wonders aloud – but Campey lights up when I ask her what her mom thinks about her stripper gag.
“She goes: ‘No, no, that’s not true’,” Campey pulls a straight face and wiggles her hands, “because she doesn’t get it. I definitely got my wit from my father.
“But,” she smiles, “my mom has become more savvy now. She’s a hippy and all into spirituality, obviously,” Campey raises an eyebrow, “so now, when people bring my name up she tells them that before I was conceived, she astro-travelled and met my soul. So when she asked my soul if I would like to come back to earth with her and be her sunshine child who will spread joy to the world, my soul said ‘yes, I could do with the holiday’.”
Campey packs up laughing then says: “So she named me Angel then Blythe because it means joy, so I am literally the ‘angel of joy’.”
Campey’s father died before this former struggling actress wrote her first joke, but her mom has been cheering her on.
“When my mother found out I do stand-up comedy,” Campey explains, “she said it was good because it meant I could spread joy by making people laugh.”
After travelling the world (she taught English in Korea and took a gap year in New York) and finally getting her honours in film and media at UCT, Campey knew she was a lover of telling stories. The fact that her mom would have to wait for her to finish telling her pre-school mates a story before home time is proof in the pudding.
But it wasn’t until Campey’s roommate and comedian, Siv Ngesi, and well-known Cape Town comedian and organiser, Rustum August, dared her to perform on stage that she realised she had a love for stand-up and could take it on as a career.
Celebrating a year since the first time she performed on stage this Friday, Campey comes across as someone who thoroughly enjoys making people laugh and learning as much as she can in the process.
When she’s not regularly on stage at Cape Town comedy nights, or flying out to Joburg to play gigs such as the Kings and Queens of Comedy, Campey is a Jive juice girl at this year’s Vodacom Funny Festival. She fills in for comedians who are late and sometimes gets to do her seven minutes to kickstart the show. She’s also one half of 2 Girls, 1 Mic on 2oceansvibe internet radio station with food critic, Kamini Pather.
These days, Campey hardly has to make fun of her name because it’s becoming one many people recognise on comedy bills, but she still does it because, well, it’s funny, so get familiar, or eat Angel’s dust.
Sorry, we’ll leave the jokes to the professionals.
• Catch Angel Blythe Campey at Beefcake’s in Greenpoint, Cape Town, on Sunday, and at Parker’s Comedy and Jive, Montecasino, Joburg, on July 11 or on www.2oceansvibe.co.za every Friday from 1pm to 3pm.