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TThe post-apartheid era has seen comedy step into mainstream South Africa, bringing with it many different humorous styles and lingoes. From the eclectic, multicultural backgrounds and communities that form the heart of this vibrant yet controversial country, comedy clubs in South Africa only seriously started making an appearance in the mid to late nineties.
Most of South Africa's comedy clubs perform in restaurants, bars and other venues, on dedicated evenings. Cool Runnings Café in trendy Melville, Johannesburg, features comedy evenings at least once a week. The Comedy Express performs at different venues around the country and showcases stand-up comedians weekly. Cape Town Comedy Club, run by well-known comedian Kurt Schoonraad, features some of the city's hottest comedians at the beautiful historic Pumphouse in the heart of the V&A Waterfront. And in Durban, Thursday Comedy Club recently launched at Lucky’s.
Theatres also provide stages for some of South Africa's top comedians. The Johannesburg International Comedy Festival is Africa’s largest comedy festival.
A handful of clubs are dedicated entirely to comedy. In the mid-90s, when stand-up comedians were becoming more significant, the first club devoted to comedy opened its doors in Johannesburg; the venue was called Hysterix and it became a popular hangout for all things humorous. The Goliath Comedy Club in the city has become Africa’s premium comedy destination attracting some of the biggest names in comedy.
South African comedy clubs have come and gone since then but comedy in South Africa is here to stay and continues to grow from strength-to-strength with international comedians mixing it up with the locals. Events like the annual Comics Choice Awards which chooses the ‘newcomer of the year’ as well as the ‘audience choice award’, make sure that audiences stay laughing.
The comedy clubs of South Africa may perform out of bars, restaurants and theatres every other night, but at the end of the day, as far as inclusive, multi-cultural comedy goes, it's still refreshingly young and developing at a rapid rate; a few years from now we should see dedicated comedy clubs setting up on South Africa's popular city strips.
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Who to contact
Cape Town Comedy Club
Tel: +27 (0)21 418 8880
Cell: +27 (0)79 495 3989
Goliath Comedy Club
Tel: +27 (0) 11 431 1297