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The popular regular comedy night, Jou Ma Se Comedy, has found a new, permanent home. Comedian and businessman, Kurt Schoonraad, showed Helen Herimbi around The Pumphouse and chatted about comedy.
Kurt Schoonraad hands me jou ma se hard hat. It’s pink and needs a bit of adjusting to fit over my big, curly hair. The stand-up comedian who is synonymous with Cape Town comedy wears a blue hard hat and a smile that could rival a Disney princess’s as he shows me around The Pumphouse (at the V&A Waterfront), which is under construction.
The face of the well-known weekly Jou Ma Se Comedy night is happy, of course, because a dream that is nearly a decade old is finally coming to fruition.
“When I first saw the stage there,’ he points at the front of the building, “I knew this is where Jou Ma Se Comedy needs to be. I’m in love with this building and have been chatting to the Waterfront owners about it for about four years. I hadn’t given up on my dream. Actually, they might have just given me the lease to shut me up,” he exclaims before he laughs.
From November 1, Jou Ma Se Comedy will be a showcase of the finest comedy in the country and beyond for five days a week.
Schoonraad, who owns the brand, says The Pumphouse will be Jou Ma Se home for five years “with a very big option to extend the lease”.
The Pumphouse is one of Cape Town’s most-loved buildings. Not only has the space been turned into a café among other things, but The Pumphouse is, since it opened in 1882, used to pump water from the world’s oldest working dry dock, the Robinson Dry Dock.
It is also one of the first buildings in South Africa to receive electricity as the first dynamo used to power Table Bay Harbour was housed here.
“So we tried to restore that legacy without changing too much of the building,” says Schoonraad.
“It’s a very well-protected building, as you can imagine, and the window structures are like 120 years old so that separates this comedy club from all the others on the planet.”
South Africa is a big supporter of weekly and stand-alone comedy shows at different venues, but not since Parker’s Comedy and Jive – which showcases local and international stand-up comedy from Wednesdays to Saturdays – have we seen a club solely dedicated to the business of making people laugh.
“Joe Parker, who owns Parker’s Comedy and Jive, has always been a mentor to me and helped me a lot,” Schoonraad shares, “but to open a comedy club is like reinventing the wheel. We are literally supplying a need because of the consistency of comedy in Cape Town.
“The Pumphouse will seat 220 people and Jou Ma Se Comedy, which is currently just every Thursday at The River Club in Observatory, has a good problem in that we have more people than we can accommodate who want to buy tickets to the show.”
Schoonraad says that stand-up comedy won’t be the sole medium of entertainment on offer, though. There will be DJs spinning before and after the comedy sets and he’s hoping to start a comedy cabaret night every Saturday where the likes of Mary Scary can perform.
It’s been eight years since Jou ma Se Comedy started out as a gig that ran for two weeks once a year thanks to Clarence Ford and even once called Woodstock and, currently, Observatory home.
“The River Club has been a great partner for three years and us leaving is very amicable. We needed to stand on our own and even the owner of The River Club has been so supportive that he’s said ‘let me know if you need anything’.”
A change in location won’t mean a change in the cover charge or the beer prices, Schoonraad assures. Yes, more tourists will come to The Pumphouse, but “the beautiful thing about South African comedy is that it doesn’t change based on geography.
“We’re going to be taking the best comedians from any religion, colour and background and putting them there, on that stage. Jou Ma Se Comedy is more than just a logo on a building, we’re about producing quality comedy.”
• Jou Ma Se Comedy runs at the River Club, Observatory, every Thursday until the end of the month. Jou Ma Se Comedy at The Pumphouse, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront will open on November 1 and run every Wednesday to Sunday.