White Folks don’t Watch Indian Comedy

Courtesy of Computicket

Noisette and I went to watch “Buckled” the other day at the Lyric Theatre. It was very funny and we thoroughly enjoyed it. A sort of slapstick act of just two people, a man and a woman, who intend to get married but then run into some complications with their extended family. We had some good laughs.

But the funniest part about it was that we were the only white – or perhaps I should say “Caucasian” to avoid offending someone, though I have to say I find that term silly –  people in the entire theater. Noisette was impressed when the bartender at intermission remembered his order from earlier, offering to pour the same drink again, but honestly, we must have stood out like a sore thumb.

The show was packed, and every single person there except the two of us was of Indian descent.* These actors must have quite a following in the Indian community, but still – it had been advertised ubiquitously and in “our” neck of the woods, so it’s not like it was some insider tip only Indians could have known about. Anyway, we enjoyed ourselves and whoever didn’t go missed out.

There is something about us and the Lyric Theatre, however. We don’t go there often because it’s quite far from here all the way to Gold Reef City and so we tend to gravitate to shows at Montecasino (the Teatro there is also less tacky than the Lyric, in fact it’s very nice). Our only other event there was equally weird. I had seen posters for the show “Desperate First Ladies” with an actress called Evita Bezuidenhout. It looked funny, so I got tickets. Well. We show up at the Lyric and while mingling with the other guests in the lobby have the impression that everyone is gay. Which made more sense once we discovered that Evita Bezuidenhout is actually a man who has invented her personality many years ago. She is somewhat of a South African icon. It’s hard to explain what exactly she represents. Desperate Housewives ended up being very funny as well, since the actor Pieter-Dirk Uys, who is the one incorporating Evita, is very adept at inhabiting a wide variety of other personalities. But unfortunately for us there was a large Afrikaans component to these personalities, so that the audience would at times be roaring with laughter while we didn’t understand a word.

Weird or not, that’s what I love about life in Johannesburg. You can go from the slums of Alexandra to to the corporate glitz of Sandton in 20 minutes, or you can watch Neil Diamond in a stadium full of middle-aged white people one day, and a comedy in a theater full of Indian people the next.

* One day I’d like to write a blog post about South Africa’s Indian community – theirs is a fascinating history. Most non-South Africans, for instance, have no idea that Ghandi started his non-violence civil disobedience campaign in South Africa. 

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