Friday, May 28, 2004

Joe Parker's Comedy Express, Carnival City, Brakpan

Friday, May 28, 2004

Service: * *
Food: N/A
Ambience: * * * * *
Babe Count: * *

In the babe count, I'm not counting Bianca, since that would bias the reading. She takes it right up to five stars, seeing as she's so gorgeous, and we've kissed and stuff.

We're in Brakpan, and, granted, only the rich-ish Brakpanners and Boksburgers and Benoni-ers and Springs-ers come to Carnival City, and only the ones with some sort of taste come to see stnadup comedy, but hell... no matter how much money these women are spending on hairstyles, I'm convinced that this part of the world has a Misogynist Hairdressers' Guild. Ooooo bebbe! We're talking prime poodle cuts with frizz on these buxom chicks.

Martin Jonas is last on tonight's bill. He's really funny. And warm. The audience just loves him, and even the hecklers are smiling at everything he says. Very nice energy.I'm here with Bianca cos we've made an early escape from the Memar TV farewell party. Most of the staff have finished their contracts, and it's only the producers and other key staff still active on the project. I'll be one of the last to finish, seeing as I'm in charge of getting the last chemistry lessons sorted. Sigh. Hanging on till 11 June.

The party was at the Horror Cafe in Newtown. Great venue. Free drinks supplied by Memar. Which means that all of my ex-colleagues are getting horrendously pissed. Vomittingly so. And I don't drink or do drugs, so this is just nasty to me. And Bianca's not drinking cos she's going to be performing a little later. At Joe Parker's Comedy Express. At Carnival City. In Brakpan.

So we've made our escape, and I'm sitting at a table on the edge of the action. Prime view of the stage and all of the punters. Sitting next to Hendy, the scrumptuous sound engineer. But believe me, even with Hendy and Bianca to give a guy hot flushes and sticky underpants, this room is dog-city.

Even uber comedian Joe Parker avoids making jokes about how the women look. He knows it's just not funny to these desperate men.

Bianca's second in tonight's lineup. Which is quite a tough slot, cos the audience is only starting to get warmed up. And it seems to me that they're a little rowdy, and possibly a tad hostile. The first dude, Alistair Plint (I think), has had a very hard time. And one dude wearing a baseball cap heckled him interminably.

Joe Parker puts him in his place when he comes on to introduce Bianca. "Hey," says Joe, "this cap you're wearing. Why does it say 'The Lounge'? Cos it's so spacious in your head? Is that it? Huge sofas sprawled around the inside, huh?" The guy shuts up. Then Joe yells, "Put your hands together for Biancaaaaaaaaa Jaaaaaaaane!" And the crowd roars. Cos everyone loves a babe with supreme breasts and a short skirt and black-rimmed glasses.

And her on-stage personality is a winner. The crowd loves her immediately, and she's funny, and they're laughing, and, before it's even started, her set's over, and she's off stage, and someone else is at the microphone. And then, moments later, she's leaning against me and breathing deeply cos she's so wired from the adrenaline.

I've done standup comedy three times in my life. Twice at the old Drum Cafe when it was in Greenside, and once at Carfax in Newtown. All three of them worked well for me. I got the people laughing, and kept them laughing, and stopped talking before they stopped laughing. And I'm addicted. And I'm convincing myself that I oughta get up there and do more of it. Trouble is, it's one of the most vulnerable-making jobs in the whole world. Very very very dangerous for the psyche to stand up there and make people laugh.

It's one of the reasons I've kinda stopped being a standup poet.

But now that I'm on kissing terms with Bianca Jane, standup comic extraordinaire, and on chaste hugging terms with Stacey Sacks, standup comic whose work I haven't yet seen, I'm getting tempted BIGTIME into giving this a serious try.

Joe Parker, a comedian who can whip a hostile crowd into bubbles of laughter. What a gentleman. He likes this portrait of himself even though it looks nothing like him.After the gig, all of the standups still there gather in the sports bar for a drink. Joe Parker sits on my left. Martin Jonas straight ahead. Bianca on my right, with her leg over mine. Alistair Plint beside her. A Cape Town comic whose name I simply cannot recall beside him. A few hangers on like me.

"What's that?" asks Joe. Someone's been trying to talk to him over the noise. "When I worked in a bar band," Joe says, "I developed this uncanny ability to listen to the audience from the stage. It's a survival thing. You've got to hear what they're saying, and nip situations in the bud. It's odd. Nowadays, after years of doing that, I can hear conversation across the room, but I honestly can't hear what people right next to me are saying."

I'm sketching Martin Jonas on my palmtop. I finish that, and start on Joe. Like last night, I'm having a bit of an off night with the drawings. Though I did dash off a really accurate one of Alistair earlier, on a torn piece of a brown paper bag. I gave it to him, and he says he wants to use it for his cd. "With absolute pleasure," I said. He wanted to know my address and stuff, so he can offer me royalties. "Nah," I said, "go for it. Use it with pleasure. No royalties needed."

Joe looks at his portrait. "It doesn't have to look like me," he says. "It's more an indication of what you're seeing as the artist."

Drinks are finished, and everyone limps off into the very late winter night.

It's a long drive back to Bianca's place, and we're not yet in the kind of intimacy where it's okay for me to come in and have coffee. Mainly cos her mom lives with her, and her dog is a jealous bastard called Chester. The beast has a reputation for biting Bianca's manfriends. When I picked her up earlier, he did some very snarly growling, with lots of jowl-juice flying. Eish. This could be a bad omen. I'm a cat person myself. But hey. Bianca's no dog, and she's got assets I wanna raid. I'll do my best to impress Chester. No bites yet.

So we sit in my car for ages. And it's cool, cos it's a cul-de-sac, and we've got a good view of the street, so we can tell if any fierce strangers with guns are about to raid us. Until, that is, the windows fog up from the heavy breathing. Coming down from comedy can be quite a lot of hard work.

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