Carl Joshua Ncube set for Africa Comedy Fest

Carl Joshua Ncube

Carl Joshua Ncube

OVER 60 comedians will converge for Comedy Central’s International Comedy Festival – the biggest comedy show ever on the continent – with 18 events over five days.

The line-up represents the who’s who of comedy – as well as some fresh faces – coming out to entertain, with Trevor Noah’s Nation Wild Gala kicking off the event with three shows. He will be joined by Schalk Bezuidenhout and Tats Nkonzo.

The week-long comedy festival boasts different themes, among them the International Gala, Late Night Comedy Show, The Afrikaans Show, The Vernac Show, Comedy and Magic as well as Kings and Queens of Comedy.

Evert van der Veer, head of Comedy Central, Africa, shed light on what inspired a festival of this magnitude.

He said: “Since launching Africa’s first 24-hour comedy channel in 2011, it has been Comedy Central’s ambition to create an international comedy festival that would showcase the brilliance of African comedians to the rest of the world. We have always been keen to initiate programming and events that promote and empower African comedians and we feel the festival is the final piece in the puzzle we started compiling four years ago.”

And securing Trevor Noah and Jeff Ross, who have pretty manic schedules – not to mention the other heavyweight local stand-ups – is quite the coup.

Van Der Veer said: “Somehow we managed to persuade Trevor Noah to play hookie from The Daily Show for a couple of weeks for the benefit of his fans back home. In Jeff’s case, he has never performed in South Africa and he’s totally thrilled to come here for the festival – so there wasn't any need to do a hard sell of any kind.”

He said they had relied on their audience in the selection process.

“We took a long hard look at our audience and asked ourselves, ‘Who and what would they like to see?’ Then we consulted our own tastes and those of the Festival creative director (Ryan Harduth) and put it all together.”

One of the key objectives of the festival, aside from bringing the big guns out, is to introduce new blood to audiences.

“Nurturing new arrivals on the scene is important to us,” he pointed out. “So we made a point of scheduling a special event dedicated to up-and-coming comedians, called The Future.

“It’ll be headlined by Lazola Gola, who will introduce comedy fans to the talents of Gavin Kelly, Snooze, Mojak Lehoko and Khanyisa Bunu. We’re also holding a Grab the Mic session at Parker’s Comedy & Jive, where new comedians can take the opportunity to perform in front of a live crowd.”

He continued: “Another element we’re really excited about is the premiere of My Child: Teenage Mutant Azanian, a new animated satirical comedy series from Nick Wilson and Steven Pillemer – think South Park spliced with Animal Farm! The pilot episode will be premiered live at the festival as part of a mixed media event featuring stand-up comedy from comedians featured in the voice cast, including Richelieu Beaunoir, Nina Hastie, Griffy 2Trillion, Mpho Popps and host Trevor Gumbi.”

Of the acts on the line-up, 90 percent of them are home-grown. Three are from the US, and there is a representative from Nigeria (Basketmouth), Kenya (Churchill), Uganda (Salvado) and Zimbabwe (Carl Joshua Ncube).

All that’s left to say is: Let the laughathon begin!

Tickets for the Comedy Central International Comedy Festival are on sale at Computicket at R120 to R650. For more information on the line-up, visit: www.comedycentralafrica.com

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