Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stand-up Stand-up

One quick way to dig into the pop culture of an area is to find out what they think is funny. I went a stand-up comedy night at a place called The Blues Room. Of course, the walls are decorated with posters of old blues and jazz icons - so, yes, you can find a poster of Giant Steps or Kind of Blue anywhere in the world.

The comedy itself was okay, but I don't think I got half the jokes. There were stereotypes about Zimbabwe and Ethiopia as well as other South African cities like Durban, and the comedians mercilessly heckled the group from Australia and their one friend from Canada. Yes - everyone in the world makes fun of Canadians. There were also jokes about African languages like Afrikaans and Zulu, which totally lost me. But, they also lost most of the crowd. Looking for joke fodder, the comedians would often ask if anyone was from outside of South Africa. It turned out there were people from Croatia, Shanghai, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and Canada (unfortunately), and that was just the 3 or 4 tables closest to the stage.

Of course, the best part of seeing stand-up comedy outside of the US is their impressions of people from the US. This place was no exception. One comedian talked about his trip to Miami and New York, and described telling an American where he was from. The reaction was something along the lines of, "OMG!! Like, AFRICA Africa?!?" He then went on to talk about how much Africans resent the American image of Africa, which he said if mainly due to Unicef ads and the ubiquitous fly on the lip of the starving child. Turns out most children down here don't have that fly...

All three acts (plus the MC) mentioned the Obama inauguration in the first few minutes of their routines. The best joke was "He's America's first black president... that's SO 1994."

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