When The Sunday Standard spoke to Maitisong Comedy Club’s five fledging stand-up comedians, two months after our last interview, they were still at it, rehearsing their routines, in preparation for the very first Maitisong Comedy Festival due the last week of September.
Kago Kimani, who has adopted the handle, Mr K as his stage persona, on this occasion served as compere between his peers’ sets. A running gag that made its way into Mr K’s introductions and the crews comedic routines is the fact that a couple of them generally are undecided on their stage names. Bafana ‘Bobo’ Letsatsi, wears proudly his aliases Ribcracker or Thubadikgopo (a setswana translation of Ribracker). Tefo Ndlovu had decided earlier on to use his full name. Edward Fella and Katego Malaakgosi remain ambiguous.
The South African comedian, Kedibone Mulaudzi, who has founded what is reported to be one of the fastest growing South African comedy companies, NuBreed Comedy Club, mentors Maitisong Comedy Club’s fledglings. Individually and in duos they are making pilgrimages to South Africa to sample the spirited Joburg stand-up comedy circuit.
And it shows.
Their physical expressiveness has improved and more at ease portraying pronounced personalities onstage. During their rehearsals, Edward, in what appeared to be an improvisational swerve, demands were their ‘captive’ audience of Maru A Pula students serving detention have disappeared to, “this can’t be that terrible,” he says pacing around the stage.
Their joke deliveries appear to be better planned as Bafana, the Ribcracker displayed call-back technique, which refers to a recurring subject or joke about the Zion Christian Church. “Haven’t you heard? Chinese are now selling the ZCC line of clothing.”
After a couple of animated bits about violation of intellectual property, he continues; “Nokia is advancing its technology, their phones now do the mkhukhu when ringing.” (likening the vibrating phone to Mkhukhu, a dance that accompanies the fervent singing in ZCC congregation.)
“We were told point-blank if a joke is not working, when visiting Joburg,” they revealed during the interview. Kedibone also exposed them to the harsh Joburg comedy audience who, according to Maitisong’s comics, do not hesitate to heckle en masse.
Their mentor sent the comic pilgrims to perform at Horror Caf├® in Newtown, which is NuBreed’s home every Wednesday. They also perform at Morula Sun and between them a corporate event hosted at University of Witswatersrand, and a charity event in Lenasia. They also observed South Africa’s seasoned stand-up comedy talent stopping by Cool Runnings Caf├® another comedy dig in Melville and attending a comedy festival hosted at the University of Pretoria.
At this point, Kago and Bafana mention that they also lived off super-sized McDonalds meals, which Edward baulks at, since he alleges to have been restricted to a diet of pap and meat. “Well, then we all were being introduced to new experiences,” the McDonald team smugly respond to their mixed-raced partner, who once told a joke about being stopped in his tracks entering a Setswana traditional food restaurant and being firmly told that there is no rice.
“We got to appreciate the freedom comedy affords a comedian and differences in audiences,” they said. In the club scene profanity is endorsed, but the corporate audience prefers unsoiled language in their entertainment.
Bafana, Kago and Edward are adamant that they are anti-profanity and would prefer to be instrumental in grooming an industry that is not swear-word-riddled. Tefo and Katego are, however, of the opinion that there should be freedom to use taboo words ‘in good taste.’ Roni, a NuBreed comic who is witty yet clean, is referenced as an inspiration.
The collective are yet to prove their mettle before their home crowd and there is a possibility of the comedians mysteriously appearing at an undisclosed venue this week.