Miscellaneous / Dark Humour - A Look At South African Comedy
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Autor: anton 24 March 2011
Words: 646 | Pages: 3
Like the place itself, African humour is a berserk mix of people, languages, cultures, irony and contradiction. There is very little sensitivity in African comedy. But there is something refreshing in being politically incorrect and irreverent, saying without thinking and not reducing reality to a string of empty euphemisms.
Do not speak of a rhinoceros if there is no tree nearby.
When you take a squirrel out of water, it contrives a plot against you
Duala Proverb Ð’â€“ West Africa
He who lives the longest has the most old clothes
He on whose head we would break a coconut, never stands still
Afrikaans is the world's youngest language with a grammar all of it own. Afrikaans draws from Dutch, French and Flemish, but pays homage only to Afrika, the motherland. It is a language with an uncanny ability to beat a description out with a dull instrument. An Ð’â€˜elevator' is a Ð’â€˜lifting-box', Ð’â€˜gatvol', a rather crass term meaning Ð’â€˜fed up', literally means Ð’â€˜full hole' and the traditional Afrikaans sport bokdrolletjiespoeg means "buck droppings' spit". Or how about Ð’â€˜voetstoets', the expression used for Ð’â€˜as is' or Ð’â€˜buyer beware', which translates directly to Ð’â€˜push by foot'?
If there is one comedian that strikes a chord with all South Africans, it is that modern day Charlie Chaplin, Mr Bean. Often played in shop-front windows to attract a crowd of onlookers or on screens above bank queues to keep the clientele subdued, Rowan Atkinson's antics never fail to floor us.
Politics is always at the tip of every African tongue. A local comic strip, Madam & Eve, satires the relationship between an upper middle class madam and her two domestic workers, poking a barbed stick at the rampant crime rate, low wages, latent racism and government bureaucracy. Having gained a little international accolade and a vacuous, low-budget sitcom, Madam & Eve is South African angst laid bare.
The king of Afrikaans comedy, and perhaps South African comedy, is Leon Schuster. South Africans seem to have an insatiable appetite for slapstick, as Schuster's god awful full-length feature Mr Bones proved, grossing more than any movie in the country's history.
But in bulk of Schuster's fare, he dons disguises and lampoons unsuspecting passers-by, with cameras hidden to capture the ensuing humiliation.
Schuster, fearlessly audacious or just plain stupid, once posed as an Indian political campaigner at an AWB (Afrikaaner Resistance Movement) gathering, imploring this racist bunch over a loud speaker to come to their senses and vote moderate. Having been asked repeatedly to leave, Schuster maintains that he is simply expressing his political freedoms, as his God given right dictates. Eventually, South African professional wrestling champion Jimmy Abbot approaches to extend a very reasonable incentive to desist. To any sane individual, this would mean that the gag was up. Jimmy "6'3" in both directions" Abbot had an incredible head of bright red hair that flowed around his ne'er existent neck and from his face making him resemble a short, fat Chewbacca.
Not Schuster. Ecstatic to meet a real, live celebrity, our impossibly thick-skinned lobbyist bobs and weaves and throws a shadow jab or two at the reddening Abbot, who to be fair, had maintained a saintly composure but was slipping fast. Unable to contain himself a moment longer, Abbot lunges with two meat mits, to which Schuster plants an open-hand Navratilova right across Abbot's flaming pate. Krakatoa had nothing on the result, wounded buffalo like a lap cat became. Blinding, primal, prejudiced rage oozed from every mitochondria in every cell in Abbot's considerable person. Grasping his hapless prey about the gullet, Abbot seemed intent on tearing Schuster longitudinal section down the span of his body. Only Schuster's cry of "Nee, jy's op kamera!*" spared his life. A moment later the near fatal scene dissolved into puddles of urine, testosterone and embarrassed hee-haws, and the rest is entertainment history.
*No, you're on camera!
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