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Cape Town Comedy Club at the V&A Waterfront
Meet Cape Town’s premier stand-up venue: the only place where they talk ‘kak’ five nights a week under a spotlight
“Speaking to Eskom on the phone is like being a 16-year-old girl talking to a married man—you know he’s going to lie,” quips local comedy legend and owner of Cape Town Comedy Club, Kurt Schoonraad.
It’s just before show time—and the comedian with the startling blue eyes is already crackling with mischievous energy. We’re tucked away in his office upstairs, but you’ll find Kurt on stage most nights.
With dark hair that sticks straight up, the funnyman is your host with the most—jokes that is. He seamlessly stiches the evening’s line-up together, with his act in-between all the others.
Now Cape Town’s premier comedy destination, the club began in 2005 as a pop-up at a festival, and from there evolved to a once-a-week comedy night in Observatory. This was until late 2013, when it moved house once more and transformed into what it is now: the only place in the Mother City that serves up five nights of laughter every week at The Pumphouse at the V&A Waterfront. It's gone on to be featured on Comedy Central on two occasions: Comedy Central Presents Nik Rabinowitz (2015) and Martin Evans (2016), and was voted as one of the ten best comedy clubs in the WORLD by Traveller.com.
“I’m very happy and proud when I look at the audience and see the diversity of the room; locals, regulars, foreigners—they’re all there.”
I spy a few other comedians milling about as well, one with an absolute shock of a blonde afro, who I later learn is Stuart Cairns (there seems to be a hair thing with these funny folk).
“It’s a showcase venue: the premier comedy club in Cape Town,” says Kurt. And the historic Pumphouse has just the bones for it. The building, dating back to 1882, is still used to pump water from the Robinson Dry Dock. The soaring A-frame ceiling and original stone walls create an amphitheatre-style space for the performers, and with its enviable waterside position and industrial chic fittings, it all makes for a thrilling night out.
“I want the building to blow you away, the food, the comedy. I want you to walk away as gast-a-flabbed as you’ve ever been.” (Kurt translation: flabbergasted.)
A step-up for stand-up
There’s a different line-up each week, with four comedians egging on audiences every night. Headliners from around the world grace the stage, as do locals acts at the top of their game. Expect to see the likes of Marc Lottering, Nik Rabinowitz, Stuart Taylor, Rob van Vuuren, Barry Hilton, Riaad Moosa and Conrad Koch alongside open-micers and up and coming stars such as Justin-Ray Stoffels, Darren Amos and Kenwyn Davids.
After all, that’s what Cape Town Comedy Club is all about. It not only showcases the best topical jokers, but it also serves as a platform for the emerging voices of South African comedy.
“We’re building an industry,” emphasises Kurt. “If I didn’t get a good healthy push by some of the bigger guys when I started out, where would I be now?”
The constantly evolving line-up also offers up the divergent faces of comedy: “We celebrate all the different genres; we’ve got the deadpan guy, the off-the-wall show, the firecracker… They’re all acts in their own right.”
Kurt has another interesting point about the art of his profession. He calls it a ‘sociobarometer’. “Go into any comedy club in any big city in the world and it will give you an idea of what the culture is like. You get the précis.”
Dinner and a show
Didn’t you know, kids, that it’s dangerous to laugh on an empty stomach? Well, now you do. There’s no need to fuel up before you arrive though - the club offers a full-service restaurant and bar.
As of June 2016, Ruby’s Catering, a Cape Town based catering company, is now managing The kitchen at Cape Town Comedy Club.“This makes them a great fit for Cape Town Comedy Club” says owner Kurt Schoonraad (who also has a pizza named after himself ;-) i.e. 'The Schoonraad'). He says “Ruby's have just recently re-introduced the ever-popular 'Jou Ma Se Burger' as well as the 'Jou Ma Se Gatsby', which is our own version of the popular Cape Town gatsby: a half-sized baguette filled with lamb … and all the trimmings. The milkshakes have also been revamped so pop in soon and try them for yourself!”.
The doors open at 6pm and Kurt suggests you arrive by 7pm to get settled—food and drinks—before the show kicks off at 8:30pm. (Though you can order food throughout the evening too.)
Servers are on-hand and assigned to your table all through the night, so there’s no fear of not getting another round.
Another good reason to come a bit earlier is happy hour, which runs from 6pm to 7pm. Then guess what? Things somehow just keep getting happier here. (The bar stays open till 2am, so there’s no need to head off anywhere else after the show.)
Lingering over a cheesy pizza and a cold beer, I watch as the lights dim over the crowd. It’s show time. Kurt comes on to the stage, quick-firing jokes, warming up the already jovial audience.
“We’re the only place in Cape Town where people talk kak 5 days a week (and 7 days over the festive season) under a spotlight!”
And, we’re off.
Tip: Keen to check out the club? Happy Hour every night from 6 to 7pm and tequilas R15 all night!
Bill: For the show: it’s R95 per ticket on weeknights and R120 per ticket from Friday to Sunday. The restaurant is reasonable priced considering its Waterfront location: starters go from R35 and all main dishes are from R55 to R155
By Malu Lambert
Looking for another fun to-do at the V&A Waterfront? Check out the family-friendly Springbok Rugby Museum.
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