If there’s one thing we can thank the prezza for is that he gives us buzzwords that, although they already mean one thing, become a part of the South African pop culture lexicon. Reshuffle is one of those words. As such, Pretoria-born comedian, Eugene Khoza, is staging his one-man show, OCD: Reshuffle, at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria on May 17.
Khoza is one of the most mysterious comedians in South Africa. It seems he actually shies away from the spotlight. But he is also still one of the funniest ever and he has a good eye for up-and-coming talent. That’s why the super funny Gilli Apter will open for him.
She came into the industry as a comedy writer in 2005 and has worked with the likes of Nik Rabinowitz and Marc Lottering. But today, this writer-director is spreading her wings as a performer. Her autobiographical and observational comedy does, like a lot of comedians when they are starting out, draw on predictable topics like the dating scene.
But she brings a fresh perspective: one of a Jewish woman who is in her 30s but isn’t in a rush to settle down and mocks society for it.
About performing before Khoza, Apter says she’s excited. “I bring a strong female perspective. I talk about what it’s like to be a woman dating and in her 30s because that’s what I am. I try to enrol people in my vision.”
Her vision was not always to be on stage. In fact, being out of the spotlight was her comfort zone.
“I’ve always been interested in behind the scenes,” she said.
“I love making funny content. My plan is to be mostly involved in TV and film from a directing and writing point of view.
“I think I had muted the performer impulse in me. I’d been too scared to do this thing. It took a lot of convincing from myself and other people to finally get on stage.”
Once she was finally convinced to give stand-up a bash, she managed her expectations and that worked for her. “It was okay for a first time,” she said.
“I did have an out of body experience. I can’t tell you what it was like – I wasn’t really there. My goal for that first time – now that I’m old and wise – was to just get on stage and do just well enough to not be scared to try again. A lot of people are frightened their first time and then they die and then they never try again. I didn’t want that.”
I ask her what it’s been like to work on funny material with some of the most well-known names in the scene.
“I’ve managed to trick those people to work with me,” she says and then laughs.
“The person I’ve written the most with is Nik (Rabinowitz). I have worked closely with him for many, many years. I guess in the fact that we’ve written so much together, it’s been more fun, more easy and the more natural it has become.”
“If you’re writing for a comedian, you have to really, really know them. So the better I get to know them, the better the process has become. We have a great time writing together.”
And does she find a sense of relief when writing for herself? “I haven’t been doing this for that long but it feels really good to write for myself,” Apter said.
“There’s no censorship. I don’t have to think: ‘would this person say this thing?’ I’m not a character. It also challenges me though because I know I have to take risks and I have to find my own voice because it will get harder to do that the longer you perform and build up your own audience.”
Gilli is a Hebrew name that means joy, so with every performance, this is just what Apter hopes to give people.
Catch Gilli Apter in Eugene Khoza’s OCD: Reshuffled on May 17 at Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria. Tickets are R150 at Computicket.