Helen Herimbi

WE’VE all heard a variation of the idiom that essentially states that if you can’t bring Muhammad to the mountain then bring the mountain to Muhammad.

For JP Vorster, it is a principle he lives through his Nomad Comedy company. As the organiser of more than 900 shows, including Mel Miller’s Big Fat Comedy Show at the Old Mutual Theatre On The Square in Sandton last year, Vorster has been taking the mountain that is comedy to all sorts of people since 2004. To celebrate Nomad Comedy’s eighth birthday, Vorster has organised his first fully fledged Nomad Comedy Show in Cape Town for today.

Featuring Martin Davis as the headliner, a few local comedians in between and hosted by TV personality and actor Colin Moss, this show will take place at The Lovell Gallery. “The gallery has a more highbrow, fine-art crowd,” admits Vorster, “but that’s just Nomad trying to do something different.

“Having Martin Davis as the headliner means we can focus more and have him perform a longer set than if there were a lot of other comedians on the bill. I think comedy has grown enough in South Africa that we don’t need to lump 16 acts together on the same night just so that we can sell tickets. This is going to be like a full-length show.”

While it is the norm all around the world to have a few comedians share the stage during regular comedy nights in their communities, Vorster’s company has made its name by standing behind stand-up comedians who want to present one-man shows or longer sets.

In fact, Vorster tells me: “I remember the first show we ever did as Nomad clearly. July 22 was our first show and it was Martin Jonas’s one man show, Or As We Say In The New SA. We both ended up making money from that night,” he chuckles.

Before he started Nomad Comedy, Vorster’s love for the funny started when he was just 17 and working at a comedy club called Hysterics in Randburg.

He attributes the fact that he and his company have been in the industry for so long to “probably pure…” he searches for the word, “passion. I love comedy above everything else.

“Well, almost above everything. First comes food, you know. But I know that if you do what you love, then you will never work a day in your life. I do what makes sense to me and it looks like a lot of people agree with that.

“I know I can’t build a bridge or a space shuttle, but at least I can put on these comedy shows and help people to relax and just laugh. It’s an honour and a privilege to call this ‘work’.”

As far as actually going on stage himself and trying his hand at comedy, Vorster laughs at the thought. “I know what’s funny,” he says, “but I can’t tell a joke to save my life.” Nomad Comedy’s big coming-out party in the Mother City may be at a peculiar venue for a comedy show but Vorster says it’s all a part of the plan.

He says: “The point behind the name Nomad is exactly that. So in the future, we plan to have shows everywhere. We are going to go to all sorts of places, whether it’s a theatre or a gallery or a club. It really is like bringing the mountain to Muhammad. Maybe we’ll even go to Durban next year.”

`• Catch Martin Davis, Colin Moss and more at The Lovell Gallery in 139 Albert Road in Woodstock today. Tickets are R100 at the door.