Kev Orkian,pictured, Shaleen Surtie-Richards and Felicity Ward will be competing for laughs at the Jive Funny Festival.
Kev Orkian,pictured, Shaleen Surtie-Richards and Felicity Ward will be competing for laughs at the Jive Funny Festival.
Shaleen Surtie-Richards
Shaleen Surtie-Richards

EVERYONE wants a job that lasts forever and a day, but the Jive Funny Festival director, Eddy Cassar, never thought he would still be doing the show 10 years on.

But it has been that long and the month-long Funny Festival will run at the Baxter Theatre from May 26 to June 22.

Already the first 15 shows are almost sold out, with 57 percent of tickets for the total 30-show run already sold.

“I didn’t think it would run this long. I don’t know what this project did, but it touched a nerve, people just flock to it. They need to laugh. It’s Cape Town’s winter tonic.

“We’re doing something right… We’re not insulting them, we’re not swearing…

“Somebody asked me: ‘Why can’t we say what we want,’ and I thought to myself, ‘the Cape Town theatre market is so small, do you want to make it smaller? Really?’ I want grandparents. I want the whole family. There’s an answer there,” said Cassar.

This year the show will be hosted by Shaleen Surtie-Richards, who makes her first foray into stand-up territory.

“She’s a funny person,” said Cassar. “She’s not skaam, she’s used to the industry and everyone knows her. She’s part of our lives.

This year Cassar is drawing on four performers to headline the shows, one every week of the run.

“All four of them can’t do the whole month, because they’re busy people,” said Cassar about South Africans Marc Lottering, Nik Rabinowitz, Riaad Moosa and UK-based Kev Orkian.

He asked pianist Orkian to do the last week because “he’s become our Cape Town roving ambassador”.

“Wherever he goes, he tells people about Cape Town. I’ve watched people come up to him after the show and say: ‘I saw you on the QE2 and you always talk about Cape Town,’” said Cassar.

The show will open with Japanese multi-media performer Yosuke Ikeda combining graphic art, mime and music, drawing props out of a box that looks like a radio.

Ikeda welcomes the audience to the strains of The Beatles song Hello, Goodbye and Cassar describes the performance as a “gentle opening with a ‘whoa’ moment”.

The two other variety acts on the line-up are Christian Lindemann and Mario, Queen of the Circus. Cassar said these acts break up the rhythm of the show, helping the comedians to sparkle.

Lindemann is a German pickpocket who has worked with Cirque du Soleil.

“Just picture it, Christian is strategically standing close to the victim, just behind him, but in view of the audience. He shows him magic and while he’s doing that, with his other hand he shows the audience he’s got the victim’s watch, his wallet, his belt, and the guy’s just not aware. It’s just clever.”

Mario the Queen of the Circus is a New York-based master juggler who dresses up as Freddy Mercury, performing to the music of Queen, with a heavy emphasis on audience participation.

Completing the international line-up is Felicity Ward, an Australian comedienne who cleaned up at the Edinburgh Festival last year.

“She’s just fantastic, a good, clever stand-up.”

Cassar was impressed enough by local comic Schalk Bezuidenhout performing at Jou Ma Se Comedy Club to invite him onto the Funny Fest stage: “I saw the reaction of my audience because they are the people who come to my shows and they loved him.”

He is also very keen to see who wins the Good Hope FM Laugh Master initiative, which should be announced on about May 21.

Previous winners Oliver Booth and Irshaad Mohamed have gone on to create careers for themselves, and this year’s winner will also get to perform at the Funny Fest.

As has become expected, Good Hope dj Carl Wastie will have a skit or two up his sleeve at every performance.

• The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival runs May 26 to June 22. Tickets at Computicket range from R95 to R150 depending on discounts for bulk purchases.