COMIC: Lindy Johnson has become a prolific player on the comedy circuit.
The stand-up comedy scene began in 1999 in a big way, with the emergence of a formal comedy circuit and the establishment of the Cape Comedy Collective (no longer in existence).

Kurt Schoonraad, who owns and operates the Cape Town Comedy Club at The Pumphouse, V&A Waterfront, was part of the first wave of comics. In addition to performing, he plays a vital role in promoting the careers of young comics.

This year the club hosted The Savanna Show Us Your Apples Competition - a platform to give new comics a shot at breaking into the mainstream. Lindy Johnson, 23, won. One of her prizes was a slot at the Jive Cape Town Comedy Festival at the Baxter, held in June/July. 

Johnson wowed the crowds and has become a prolific player on the comedy circuit. Catch her tomorrow and on Sunday at the Cape Town Comedy Club - the place where she was catapulted into the comedy scene.

For years, The Jive Cape Town Comedy Festival has had what was has been termed as the “developmental”, “emerging comic” slot or whatnot. There is much anticipation to see how the poor sod is who has won the toss. Comedy audiences can be brutal.

Alan Committie said in a recent interview that in Cape Town we tend to have to be persuaded to laugh. In the article, published in The Star, he quipped about Cape audiences: “So they’ll laugh.

“If you insist. You’ll need to slap them gently around in comic fashion. Then they will come around.” Catch him in Planet Mirth at Theatre on the Bay from December 5 to January 13. It’s a pleasure, Mr C.

Okay, we often just sit and stare back at the stand-ups - especially the newbies - and snort a little blimp of a laugh; half a laugh, like half a standing ovation - another thing Cape audiences are known for: we have commitment phobia at the theatre.

However, when Johnson stepped on to the Baxter stage at the Jive Funny Festival, she had the audience from first laugh. It was whoa! We were with her from the start when the sassy performer sashayed into the spotlight.

She was raised in Paarl and still lives there and spoke about her life so far. At 23, she is aeons away in comparison with many of the first-wave comics who are 40-something.

In the past two or three years or so, we have had the coming of age editions of the founding comics.

Let’s not be ageist, but it is refreshing to hear a comic up there who is not ranting about turning the big four-oh and who isn’t regaling us with tales of parenthood, lactation issues and how the offspring say cute/scary things which they feel compelled to repeat verbatim and share on stage.

Growing up, Johnson said she wasn’t the “class clown” as such. “I was less of a class clown and more of a class laugher.

“I was always in trouble for laughing too much or too loud seeing the funny in things has always been the best part of my day. My parents loved stand-up.”

After matric, she decided to study a general BA at Stellenbosch University.

“I was hoping I would find my passion along the way. I found comedy. My first attempt at comedy was a talent competition in Stellenbosch - Maties Got Talent. I came second and the host, Rob van Vuuren, suggested I try the Open Mic at the Armchair in Observatory. Things quickly developed from there.”

Stand-up has been and is still predominantly a male-dominated industry.

Tracy Klass - part of the original bunch of stand-ups; Shimmy Isaacs and Tumi Morake - among others - dazzle us but the fact remains is that many female comics have struggled with rampant discrimination and sexist heckling at gigs.

What is Johnson’s take on that? “Starting, for a woman is the most difficult part of entering any male-dominated industry.

Comedy is intimidating for everyone, but add the chance of colleagues not respecting your boundaries and doubting your experience is enough to put any woman off. Luckily the opportunities are based on your skill alone which is something not every workplace has. I’m so grateful for ladies who have been doing this for longer who have made the environment so much better for us.”

* Lindy Johnson is on the open mic slot tomorrow and Sunday at Cape Town Comedy Club. Show starts 8.30pm. Dinner from 6pm when doors open and last meal orders 7.30pm.

The venue is open every day - from Monday, December 18 to Sunday, January 7 and then reverts to being open Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets for Fridays and Saturdays are R120. Ticket prices vary for other days. New Year’s Eve is on Sunday, December 31.

Tickets are R1500 and include a welcome drink on arrival, four-course meal and wine-pairing, glass of bubbly for the countdown at midnight.

The show will feature Kurt Schoonraad as host with well-known Cape Town band, Airborne. Bookings at Info 021 418 8880.

Gooi tomatoes at The Annual Armchair Comedy Festival.

The Annual Armchair Comedy Festival: the seven-day comedy fringe festival - produced in association with Fruit of the Loom - is on at the ObviouZly Armchair Theatre in Observatory from December 3-10.

Gino Fernandez has organised the festival. The line-up includes big names like Riaad Moosaa, Nik Rabinowitz, Conrad Koch, Stuart Taylor, KG Mokgadi, Yaaseen Barnes, Dalin Oliver, Dylan Skews, and Rob van Vuuren.

A 45-minute show will run every hour from 8pm to 10pm, with extra shows on Saturday and Sunday. Comedy Ketchup is on Saturday, December 3 - an open mic competition.

The audience is invited to express its thoughts by throwing tomatoes at the comics - or not. Info from the ObviouZly Armchair Theatre Facebook page.

Cape Times