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JOE PARKER’S COMEDY EXPRESS (article first published : 2005-07-21)

Comedy Express described as “a smorgasbord season of comedy acts explodes onto the stage” at Krakatoa at Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom from July 20. Masterminded by South Africa’s inimitable king of comedy Joe Parker, Comedy Express features weekly Wednesday evenings at Krakatoa until October 2005, with some of South Africa’s top comedy talent.

Comedians on the express include the man himself – Joe Parker with partners in fun: Al Prodgers, Kedibone, Vittorio, Magic Man, Afzal Khan, Roni Modimola, Darren Maule, Joey Rasdien, veteran funny man Mel Miller, Monique Nortje, Hannes Brummer, Chris Forrest, Conrad Koch, Alyn Adams and Riaad Moosa. The weekly session will include a broad range of hysterical comedy peppered with a ventriloquist, magic acts and an improvisation evening – Improv Express which is a take on the very funny Whose Line Is It Anyway?

“We are really looking forward to a major blast at Sibaya,” says Joe Parker, “I have managed to successfully bribe some of the country’s craziest talent onto the Express”. This is how Joe Parker describes this “crazy talent”:

Durban comedian Afzal Khan brings his unique style of South Africa humour to the comedy mix. Well-loved and hugely popular, Afzal has starred in numerous highly successful comedy and drama productions over the years and promises to put zing into the fun at Sibaya. Young Al Prodgers is an exceptionally versatile comic entertainer whose laughs spring from his passion for South Africa and its people. He is provocative and challenging, with his razor-sharp mind working in overdrive.

Anthropologist Conrad Koch has a unique, wacky and madly funny ventriloquist act. He is awake, alive, intelligent and completely crazy. Some of the characters he has created for his show are madness like a Scottish tokoloshe, a vegetarian vulture, a feminist Sandton kugel and a Cape Flats drag queen. Darren Maule is a youthful, gangly character who disguises a wicked tongue with an earthy, definitely adult sense of humour. He is ruthless in his audience interaction, and turns the front row into a masochist’s paradise; the more ribbing he hands out, the more they like it. So audiences should beware!

Kedibone Mulaudzi is one of SA’s rising stand up comedy stars. He is young, funny, creative, smart, very energetic and talented. His material is mostly based on current affairs and the things that people are afraid to say in public. World-class performer Magic Man is one of the most experienced and well-travelled magicians in the country. Whether he’s working an intimate room or a large pub, his boyish, charming blend of gags and unbelievable sleight-of-hand keeps the whole room enthralled. Martin Jonas is our boykie from Potchefstroom via Kempton Park. He is the fresh-faced future of comedy in South Africa, as he continues to impress audiences with his novel style and pertinent observational humour. Charming Roni Modimola has become South African comedy’s rising star to watch. His self-effacing giggle is so irresistible, yielding shouts of laughter whether he’s taking a stab at the country’s crime rate or overturning some cherished racial stereotype.”

Then of course, no comedy road show would be complete without the South African legend Mel Miller. Now this guy has pissed people off in his thirty-eight year career. He's pissed off right wingers, left wingers, liberals, conservatives, whites, blacks, Indians, Germans, Japanese, the British, the Apartheid government, the ANC, men, women and censors. He's likely to continue pissing them off for some time, too - which is fine, since more than a few have done the same to him!

Joey Rasdien is the epitome of South African comedy today. His endearing stage persona is intellectually absurd, physically hysterical and visually beside himself. This belies his other profession… high-level fund management and financial advising! Riaad Moosa’s humour is based on his experiences as a young Muslim relating to post-911 Islamophobia, growing up in Cape Town and general observational and opinion-based humour. Skirting around the relatively taboo topics with charm and ease, this comedy doctor will split your sides and keep you in stitches at the same time.

Alyn Adams, thirty-something survivor of both a Catholic education and a Durban upbringing began stand-up in 1995, and was a founder comic at the Civic Theatre's Punchline Pub. He has since performed at every stand-up initiative around the country. Chris Forrest is South Africa's answer to Steve Wright, the deadpan face of American stand-up. Chris' witty and cynical one-line humour is thought provoking and to the point. Totally nerdish and unflappable, his Drew Carey-looks and slowed-up delivery have ensured that audiences take to him enthusiastically. With his shape that he describes as genetically Italian, and a mop of curly hair that makes him look like a refugee from a Heavy Metal group this young media-junkie has a way of taking any movie or TV show, and showing it to us through his own quirky lens.

As a fresh addition to the stand up offering, Joe Parker presents The Improv Express on August 17. Fans of Whose Line Is It Anyway? will already be familiar with this hilarious format: four players improvising a series of riotous comic scenarios, with an MC coaxing suggestions for each game from the audience. Performers are stretched to their mental and physical limits, with hysterical consequences. A player could find himself miming the birth of sextuplets one moment, then spouting mock-Shakespearian verse a second later, all of it made up on the spot, off the top of his head. Actress Monique Nortje, who will participate in the Improv Express, has been working in educational, industrial and corporate theatre for a number of years. Her TV appearances include Gazlam (2005) and Egoli (2002).

The programme until August is as follows: July 20: Joe Parker, Kedibone and Martin Jonas; July 27: Joe Parker, Vittorio, Magic Manittorio, (Men’s night); August 3: Joe Parker, Roni Modimola, Al prodgers; August 10: Darren Maule, Joey Rasdien, Mel Mille; August 17: Improv Express with Darren Maule, Monique Nortjie, Vittorio, Joe Parker and Hannes Brummer; August 24: Darren Maule, Chris Forrest and Conrad Koch, and August 31: Joe Parker, Alyn Adams and Riaad Moosa.

The shows begin at 21h00 and the doors open at 20h30. Tickets for Comedy Express are R50 and can be purchased through the Sibaya Box-Office on 031 580 5555. If the recent Barry Hilton show was anything to go by, as it sold out, audiences are advised to book well in advance.




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