*Movie voice over* One girl, big dreams – two cities. This is the tale of Angel, and how she tried to conquer Johannesburg, night after night, on stage with her skill in Orals….
Yes. That would make a pretty good porno – The name’s right. Actually I stayed at the Emperor’s Palace Hotel for the first 3 nights, and “Angel Does Palace” sounds a lot more fun.
Yes, it’s been said: Cape Town is the greatest city in the world. But here’s the thing. Joburg is a pretty close second. It’s fun to hate on eachother. We’re always mocking eachother’s traffic or speaking styles or fashion (or lack thereof) but, much like kids in school – you only mock the ones you love. And I do love Jozi.
I love the people, and the hustle and the sunny winter days. I love how the audiences laugh harder and how the Joburg comic’s take on things is so different and fresh to what I’m used to.
It’s the big city. And this little Angel had wide eyes, filled with Stars.
Friday – Parker’s Comedy
I had to fly at 7am, which is insomniac speak for “I flew to joburg without sleeping”. I was greeted by one times happy, smily Rabin Harduth (one of the producers of Kings and Queens) and whisked off to the P.I.M.P hotel: Emperor’s Palace.
On the first night I did a little ‘teething’ set at Parkers Comedy and Jive in Montecasino. We almost didn’t make it because Rabin’s car battery died after he left the headlights on, for 3 million hours. *cough*
My mother also phoned to wish me luck, moments before I was due on stage – and to tell me that my dog was about to die. Nice. Thanks.
Comedy of tragedy.
Friday night was not my best performance ever. But it went pretty well, and Parkers is an epic venue for us little Cape Tonians to play. I got to meet and hang out with some great comics that night, and thus my Jozi comedy tour was launched.
Saturday – Joey Rasdien’s Mixed DNA
After a long luxurious Emperor’s palace breakfast buffet, looking out onto the huge fountain, sparkling in the sunshine. I ambled around trying to not die of nerves for the pending Sunday evening show of 3500 audience members. I walked over to the venue with the producers, and stood on the stage – probably not the smartest move for my terror.
I got assigned my own personal ‘bodyguard’ that day in the shape of a 7ft tall Zulu man named Darlington. Darlington drove me around Joburg and took me to visit some good comedian friends, which was a welcome, calming distraction from my internal hysteria of stage-fright.
That night I got the *immense honour* of opening for Joey Rasdien’s one man show ‘Mixed DNA’ at the Vodafone Dome in Vodaworld. My biggest audience (thus far) of 900 people, I didn’t have time to get nervous as I was so star struck by actually finally meeting Joey.
He was gracious to let someone he’d never seen perform open for his show. “Joey, this is Angel.” “Nice to meet you” “She’s going to open for you” “oh, ok”
I suppose he didn’t have a choice… something about ‘what the producer wants the producer gets’. I should probably shout out to Osman and Shaaista Khan of 4 Corners Entertainment. They were our ‘Kings and Queens’ producers and honestly treated all 8 of us like rock stars. I can see how diva tendencies develop. After one weekend of people running after your every sigh. It could get very addictive. ;-) So much love for that couple.
My 10 mins on stage opening for Joey were sublime. You can see yourself projected on huge screens out the peripheral of your eye, and there was just so much love in the audience. People were in great spirits. Such a fun crowd. Walking off stage into Joey’s arms of a congratulatory hug, added to the surreal awesomeness of the whole thing. *is this my life?*
Joey’s show was hilarious. I see a lot of comedy, I don’t laugh out loud that much anymore at obvious gags. But Joey was fresh and entertaining and had me transfixed for the whole show. ‘Mixed DNA’ – Go check it out, he’s touring with it.
We ended up all having a ‘pre show’ night cap of hot chocolate, crammed into one hotel room (to order room service) and watchin Fast and Furious 5 – the production crew and myself. (While i glowed at tweets from Joey’s audience coming in congratulating me on a great set)
Cue a night of trying to sleep before the biggest day of my life. So far.
Sunday 3rd June – Kings and Queens of Comedy
I have a hideous ex boyfriend. (Well, not hideous in looks. I have a little more taste than that. Just hideous in that he was awful the way he broke it off) We broke up in 2010 and after I picked the broken pieces of myself up off the ground, and found humour to mask my hurt – i fell in love with stand-up comedy. It wasn’t *because* of him that I found comedy (i’d never give him THAT much credit) but it’s thanks to the circumstances that my life hurled me into.
He got married the Saturday i was in Joburg. So, whilst I was on stage opening for Joey Rasdien’s show – he was probably slow dancing (with the girl he left me for)- half an hour away. I wouldn’t know. We don’t speak.
I’m not sad. At all. I just bring it up because it’s a beautiful symmetry as he had the biggest day of his life, I then had the biggest day of mine. My ‘Coronation as Queen’ as the producers called it. It felt like a wedding day. (If you wore skinny jeans and made crude jokes at your wedding)
My eyes snapped awake at 7am. Excitement. Nerves. or indigestion? Who cares. Twitter was abuzz with hashtags and mentions. I tried to have a long luxurious breakfast, but it’s hard to put food on top of butterflies. my Bodyguard Darlington kept me company and regailed me with stories of his opinion of how to clean up Hillbrow. (Controversial, to say the least.)
I was told to stay in my room and keep calm. So I listened to at least one of those instructions and distracted myself on the giant king-sized bed by staring at the wall, chewing on my bottom lip.
It must be said, the amount of good luck texts, calls, tweets and bbms I got was touching. And you know who you all are. And just know that it meant a lot.
It was as if the day was on fast-forward and slow motion. Next thing I was backstage meeting Trevor Gumbi, then on stage doing sound check. Then backstage meeting Tumi Morake and Chris Forrest again. High fiving Joey Rasdien, shaking hands with Darren Simpson, hugging fellow Capetonian Tracey Klass (in mutual terror) and greeting Joburg comics and managers both familiar faces and new.
We had a big screen which projected what the screens next to the stage could see backstage. All the other comics were calm and had a sense of camaraderie about them as they have worked together loads, laughter rose from personal jokes and hilarious anecdotes around the room. I was the big eyed terrified little newbie fidgeting in the corner.
It has to be said, everyone was so friendly and supportive. Each comic offered just the right amount of their sage advice. One thing comics know, is how to help another comic by not psyching them out.
Then. WHAM the host, Joey was onstage and the train had started moving.
I was opening the second half, which I’m told is the sweet spot. I only know that I had originally been set to open the whole show and I was beyond grateful for the extra time bought me.
The running order hosted by Joey was:
Darren Whackhead Simpson
During interval it all just got a little overwhelming. And during a big bear-hug of luck from Joburg comic (and great friend) Jason Goliath, I realised that I wanted to cry. You know how you bang your knee but it’s not until your mother gives you sympathy that you start to cry? Yeah. It was one of those.
I moved out of the hustle and bustle backstage into the (oddly deserted) smoking corridor. I sat, (a non smoker) breathing deeply, grateful (for a change) of the nicotine laced air for my nerves. One or two close comedy friends came to sit with me and pep talk me with calming words like ‘Stop overthinking it. You know your jokes. You’ve played to much tougher crowds than this. If you can make 8 people laugh in Cape Town, 3500 is easy.’
And yes. The logical mind heard them. The other mind was saying. I HAVE TO WALK ONSTAGE IN FRONT OF 3500 people!!!
The second half opened with Beat-boxer, “Cyber” DESTROYING with the most epic set. He really got the crowd hyped up… and me. I was in the wings now, standing in the darkness, watching him. I didn’t have time to panic anymore. It was now or never. And never wasn’t an option.
Joey ran on to thundering applause as Cyber finished his set, but called the young British guy back on stage and did a little improv beat boxing with him. It was hilarious. The crowd loved it. As they were still screaming and cheering I heard him announcing me, and the next thing my name was called and I had to get up there.
I had been told they were going to play Jay Z – ’99 Problems’ when I walked out – so was amped to have a little swag on my side. Instead some sachirine girl pop Taylor Swift-ish music boomed through the speakers and I had to awkwardly shuffle forward.
I can’t remember much about the set I did. I know I didn’t mess up. I didn’t forget any of my links. I could definitely have done better. I could have relaxed into it more. But I didn’t go too fast or make any other obvious errors. So I’m happy. The crowd were laughing at the right moments. (Although, it has to be said (and this was warned to me) that it’s not as loud as you’d expect it to be, because of the acoustics.) And as I closed with my fail safe line, the afore promised Jay-Z song started booming, and I walked off stage with far more swag than I’d walked onto it. Pulse soaring.
The higlight of that whole moment was coming down the stairs into the wings, Marc Lottering, Cape Town icon and comedian (who I hadn’t seen backstage yet) was waiting at the bottom of the stairs with his arms outstretched. I leaped into his hug and he kissed me all over the face saying how proud he was of me. That will go down as one of my top moments of life.
If I’m equating this show to a wedding day – that moment with Marc was ‘dancing with your father.’ But so much more fabulous.
I went backstage where everyone was very kind and complimentary. Tumi Morake (the most respected female comedian in South Africa and the lady who headlined the show) especially came over to say she loved my energy on stage, because I have a masculine energy. Which was one of the greatest compliments she could have given me. A few guys overheard it and joked about how that should be an insult. But I get it. She gets me.
After me it was
…And then I got given Patron tequila… the rest becomes irrelevant. But everything about the rest of the night, partying into the late hours, laughing and being around awesome people – was perfect.
On reflection, I honestly think that I was one of the weakest links of the show, because I was so new. But in a line-up of such epic heavy weights, it’s not the worst to even be their weakest link. I know I can only get better. And it was epically amazing.
Monday 4th June
Tuesday 5th June – Goliath C4 Comedy
Jason Goliath and Donovan Goliath squeezed me into their C4 comedy nights at Parkers line up.
They gave me 5 mins, but that was all I needed. The audience at C4 know what they are there for – to laugh. They are the most awesome crowd, laughing so enthusiastically that they jump out of their seats or cling to each other as they catch their breath between whoops and cheers.
Other comics on the bill that night included Trevor Gumbi (again) Nicholas Goliath, Tol Ass Mo, Joe Parker himself, Mpho Popps (host) and the incomparable Tats Nkonzo. Everyone was awesome. My heart wanted to burst with happiness at the awesome club style comedy, and a receptive audience. That was a gig I will remember fondly.
Wednesday 6th June – Crowne Comedy
It was back to ‘pimp’ with me getting a room in the Crowne Plaza hotel Wednesday night.
This was a really fun gig too. Dave Levinsohn hosting, fellow Cape Town comic Peter Sserwanga had arrived and was performing his debut Joburg gig (he did not disappoint) Tol Ass Mo went before me with a hilarious set.
I had fun on stage, even though you can see all the faces of the audience, and see exactly who is laughing and/or NOT laughing but getting offended. ;-)
Simmi Areff showed his true comedic colours by putting a drunk heckling girl in her place (eventually getting her escorted out by security) winning the crowd over with his off-the-cuff comedic come-backs. Tats Nkonzo closed the night with the finesse only he can. This was a great informal night of comedy. Probably set off by Dave’s improvisational style. He even called comic Laz Gola, from the audience onto stage to introduce Simmi Areff (because Dave didn’t want to be in front of the “drunk girl’s spread eagle sitting style” any more) – the crowd went along with everything the comics did and the night was fun.
I was the first ever girl to perform on the Crowne Comedy stage. Real bra burning moment.
Thursday 7th June
Back to rainy, wet, Cape Town.