“If there is one thing that all South Africans need right now, it is a laugh. Laugh at yourself. Try to find the humour in things that are going on in the country and globally,” says local comedy heavyweight David Kau about why viewers should tune in for S2 of Comedy Central Live at the Savanna Virtual Comedy Bar, starting Sunday, 18 October on Comedy Central (DStv 122) at 22:00. “Everything is on the table. I am not holding back any punches. So you can expect to be a bit uncomfortable at some of my jokes, but you’ll laugh because there is a funny side to everything,” adds David.

Joining David in this virtual event are local comedians like Jason Goliath, Farieda Metsileng, Schalk Bezuidenhout, Carvin Goldstone, Lihle Msimang, Rob van Vuuren, KG Mokgadi, Ebenhaezer Dibakwane, Tsitsi Chiumya, Prev Reddy, Muzi Dlamini, and The Black Wendy to name a few.

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Master Kau to you

“I will be headlining two episodes. There will be an MC, a group of rising comedy stars, and myself,” explains David. “My set is a bit longer than the rest. Filming this series, we had to work with limitations, and that’s why this show is so unique. It’s all virtual.”

Some of David’s content is “all the weird stuff that emerged during lockdown the last couple of months. For instance, sangomas doing online consulting. How crazy is that?” asks David.

David says that his set isn’t scripted, either. “For me, it’s having a conversation with the audience. It’s relying on my skills to do my best and craft and talk about stuff people can relate to.” David does admit that doing a stand-up show without an audience is a nightmare. “There is no immediate feedback, so your jokes must resonate with viewers. It’s all about adapting.”

One of the things that the comedians have to do is build a bar – a real bar. “Man, I’m not good at building stuff. The last thing I built was a wire car when I was a child. I don’t even change my flat tyre. I call a number and some white guy will come out and change it for me,” jokes David. ”But I do have a hammer at home, I just haven’t used it in quite a while.”

A new world

For Jason Goliath, this whole new way of doing comedy has been a transition. “It’s all done digitally, and I have never done digital comedy before. It’s so weird. The most interesting thing is not to expect what we have before, as this is something completely different. It’s a new style of comedy that will exist in the near future, even if audiences are sometime during the foreseeable future allowed to come back to watch us doing our job live.”

The new way of doing these comedy shows was something Jason saw as a challenge, but also something he has embraced. “When you are learning something new, there is always that little bit of discomfort. It’s like driving an automatic car, then driving a manual car. You are going to get to a robot and forget to put the clutch in and the car will stall.”

And Jason is also excited about the new method of doing comedy. “I like this new challenge as I’ve seen so many permutations of digital comedy over the last six months due to COVID-19. I love the idea, especially when they use animation to articulate the storyline or jokes that you are telling. Some of my segments have animation. I have always said: If there is an issue, don’t be fearful, face it head-on and embrace it.”

Organic fun

Doing this type of digital comedy show taught Jason something very interesting. “I think I’m the only one that actually doesn’t stick to a script. My comedy has always been organic and very conversational, and although I have an idea what I’m going to say, and like any conversation, I allow that conversation to change when I’m in front of the cameras. The new way of doing comedy now is so interesting as you don’t have the audience to feed from, so you have to make sure you hit on the points. Also, the new way allowed me to, after filming, talk to the producers to see what animation can be used to bring over the comedy element in my segments.”

Jason also believes that comedy has changed dramatically over the last couple of months of lockdown. “I think we are now more like TV stars and TV presenters. The whole world has changed, and you have to find your foot in the door, keeping up with the changes by doing digital work. I think comedy always had a licence to speak about subject matter that has been deemed sensitive.”

“I found that many international comedians, like Jim Jefferies and Dave Chappelle, have changed their tactics where, instead of making audiences laugh at themselves, they are now telling jokes that will offend viewers. But in that offensive thing lies the comedy, as it’s told through a narrative that will still make audiences laugh at the expense of their own discomfort. Topics like gender-based violence, rape and Black Lives Matters are all presented in a way that will make audiences laugh, even though they are seen as taboo topics. But that is something I’ll never do,” says Jason.

Here comes Farieda

One of the new kids on the comedy block is Farieda Metsileng. “I am still very much wet behind the ears,” says Farieda. “I’ve only been doing comedy for the past four years.” She says that the idea of becoming a comedian had never crossed her mind, until some of her friends told her that she was funny and should look into starting a career as comedian.

“I remember, at school I was the class clown, or rather an undercover class clown. I joked around a lot and made fun of myself. You have to laugh at yourself before you can make other people laugh.” Her starting point was impersonating people. “I always look at people in the community and examine their mannerisms and the way they talk, and then I’ll do an impersonation for my friends and family,” she explains.

Working on Comedy Central Live at the Savanna Virtual Comedy Bar is a dream come true for Farieda. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would get a chance to star with the big names in the local comedy industry.”

Farieda will also be a judge during auditions for new comedians in S3 of Comedy Central Live at the Savanna Virtual Comedy Bar. “There are a couple of things that I’m going to look for. It must be fresh content. It must make me laugh and other people laugh. And it must be jokes that I can see myself in and other people can relate to. It must be original as well. The one thing about comedy is that it’s meant to be an artform. You have to give your everything to make it in the comedy scene,” says Farieda.

Watch Comedy Central Live at the Savanna Virtual Comedy Bar from Saturday, 18 October on Comedy Central (DStv 122) at 22:00 or on Catch Up

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