A Comedy Without Real Comedy

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By Lize Kubersky A dark canvas with a small table took the stage at the Warehouse Theatre on Wednesday evening. The focus was on the square table decorated with a candle, stuck in a baguette, and a variety of foodstuffs. In addition, two bar chairs rounded off the set of the self-proclaimed ‘Comedy King’ Armas Shivute in the two-hander, “Who is Crazy?” Despite the quarter-full venue, the audience did little to encourage the actors on stage. Can one really blame the audience because the opening scene continued in a silent and unsatisfying, stagnant way. ‘The crazy man’ in the play, portrayed by Stanley, made a silent introduction. He came on stage, smoked a cigarette in peace, and then repeated four movements, back and forth, even though I think he was trying to depict how crazy people stutter in movement and forget that they just came from that position. I would have suggested that the movement be more fluent and that he accompany it with dialogue. Crazy or mentally-challenged people have a tendency to speak to themselves in the third person, and have a great time in doing so. The story then continued with Shivute entering the scene and getting acquainted with ‘the crazy man.’ This whole meeting was too loaded and should have had more realistic connotations, in my view. The jokes that were used to create humour were age-old, clichÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©d renditions of wit showcased prominently in school concerts. I would have believed that the ‘king of comedy’ should conjure up more solid jokes that gel easily with normal speech a play of this nature needs. What was visible was that the two actors had a lot of chemistry. They could bounce off each other at will. The fluency of the dialogue was not lacking. It was the content of the dialogue that betrayed the weaknesses in the play. However, the play highly encapsulated current news, including the B1 killer, Harry Simon, and the recent killing of a tourist in Windhoek. Shivute oscillated between many current ravings, but lacked the conviction to transform the tragedies into humour. That can only be successful if the comedian himself does not forget the punchline halfway through. What was quite apparent was that the play was not only a political parody; this burlesque lathered a lot of butter onto the mind, but just lacked the right flair to make the audience bask in epiphanies. They couldn’t, because Shivute engaged in below-par comedy about current topics. These topics included a talk about the pivotal role that Oshiwambo-speaking people play in Namibian society, which was quite relatable, but then he switched the theme to talk about the shape of noses and dog meat. What is challenging in a comedy is that it should be witty and charming, in the right respect to make people want to laugh about what is being said. It should not evoke laughter because of ‘a take pity on the comedian, give him laughter, and then the show might rev up,’ kind of way. Unfortunately, this was the case with ‘Who is Crazy?’ What was also visible was that the entire play was done sitting down and having a conversation whilst eating. This whole tripod of sitting, talking and eating, could only have had some effect if the content was strong and the facial movements were expressed according to the depth of the shared literature. What the actors should realize is that when they perform a play in English, they have to illustrate that they can communicate in English. Grammar mistakes were loudly audible throughout the play. Where the adverb was seemingly ignored to have any influence on the verb when in the past tense. One cannot say, ‘but I did jumped.’ It makes the energy level drop drastically because, as an audience member, one then regurgitates on this error, instead of following the play. In a nutshell, this play was too lengthy and half of ping-pong that made no real moral or humorous point.