One of South Africa’s pre-eminent artists is exhibiting at a classic gallery in the city
Cape Town Comedy Club: Dinner and a Show at the V&A Waterfront
Cape Town’s world-class stand-up comedy venue: where the drinks, food and laughter flow five nights a week
‘We keep the lights low in here so you can relax, not just so that we don’t have to look at you! Anyway, none of the best things in life happen under lights like an Edgars changing room,’ quips local comedy legend Kurt Schoonraad. Was that a wink? Hard to tell as the owner of Cape Town Comedy Club has mischievous blue-green eyes that seem like they’re always winking… inviting you to join in on the joke!
I pull up to my table in the – gulp! – front row of the historical Pumphouse at the bustling V&A Waterfront. Its soaring A-frame ceiling and original stone walls make for a surprisingly intimate venue: although it seats 180, it’s warm and atmospheric and – as Kurt promised – dimly lit!
The space has great sight lines – there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. And tonight, there isn’t an empty one in the buzzing club. As soon as Melt Sieberhagen, our tall, teddy-like emcee for the evening, bumbles out on stage, any fears I had of the front row firing line ‘melt’ away. Cape Town Comedy Club is a welcoming space for everyone – comedy aficionados or first-timers alike.
Within minutes, you could power the V&A’s grid off the high-voltage hysterics crackling out of the audience. If laughter really is the best medicine, then the doctor is in the house! From families having dinner, to the ‘right swipers’ testing out their Tinder date’s sense of humour on a first date, to the businesses who book into the Silly Season Lunch Shows for three-course meals and some corporate-friendly comedy, nobody leaves the Comedy Club without a good, gut-busting ab workout. Laughter’s not only the best medicine – it’s the best exercise, too!
The club might be Cape Town’s undisputed home of comedy now, but it’s come a long way from its once-a-week comedy night roots in Observatory. In 2013, Kurt took a huge leap of faith and moved the scrappy stand-up start-up to the V&A, building it into the province’s only dedicated comedy venue. ‘My whole proverbial basket of eggs was on the line! They had to fly, or fry. But I had to take the chance – sometimes you’ve got to ‘stand-up’ for your passion,’ he says.
And Kurt’s passion is definitely flying as this V&A Waterfront venue serves up five nights of laughter a week, from Wednesday to Sunday, and has been featured twice on Comedy Central, showcasing regulars Nik Rabinowitz (2015) and Martin Evans (2016). With locals-made-good like Trevor Noah drawing attention to the SA comedy scene, audiences are listening up and laughing hard. The Cape Town Comedy Club is at the centre of an SA comedy revolution – it was recently voted as one of the ten best comedy clubs in the world by Traveller.com.
“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’s translation of flabbergasted!)
A STEP-UP FOR STAND-UP
The venue rotates its crowd-pulling headline act (think Marc Lottering, Barry Hilton, Rob van Vuuren or Riaad Moosa) and emcee every week, with a laugh-out-loud line-up of supporting acts and guest stars. ‘If you want a sustainable comedy industry, you’ve got to keep the pump running on the gene pool,’ says Kurt. He is committed to supporting new talent, and constantly scans the underground comedy scene, hosting a ‘newcomer competition’ talent search every year. So catch the newbies before they make it big – many aspiring stand-ups had their start on this stage’s five-minute open-mic slot.
The club’s constantly evolving line-up of four comedians a night has something for everybody. You like one-liners? Deadpan? Off-the-wall weirdoes or witty wordplay? Whatever your taste, there’s something here to tickle your funny bone. And if there’s one thing we need in the world right now, it’s laughter!
DINNER AND A SHOW
The giggles flow freely, and so do the drinks. With a full bar and restaurant service, the club offers not just the funniest, but also the yummiest night on the town. The kitchen serves up tasty grills, salads, and pizzas named after famous comedians.
The show gets going at 8.30pm, but with the kitchen serving up great grub, and happy hour from 6pm to 7pm, there’s every reason to arrive early. After the comedy wraps up, a DJ hits the decks until 2am, with R15 tequila shots making sure it’s happy hour all night!
As I tuck into my ‘Jou Ma se Gatsby’ – a lamb baguette that’s an unbelievably lekker spin on the local Cape Town classic – I watch as the lights dim over an excited crowd. It’s show time…
“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.
Show Times: Wednesday – Sunday, and 7 days a week during the festive season. Doors open at 6pm, show starts at 8:30pm.
Tickets: Tickets cost between R95 and R120. Buy at the door, or get ahead of the queue via Computicket.com, as shows often sell out. Check out the week’s line-up at CapeTownComedyClub.com.
Bill: The restaurant is reasonably priced considering its Waterfront location: starters from R45 and main dishes between R65 and R185.
Note: Although Kurt calls the venue ‘family friendly-ish’, they do give the disclaimer that their comedians are not censored and some material might not be appropriate for sensitive audiences. Age restriction: no under 18s – Language & Prejudice.
Raising the roof at the 2018 Cuppa Comedy For CANSA.
Looking for another fun to-do at the V&A Waterfront? Check out the family-friendly Springbok Rugby Museum.
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