Local Xhosa stars excel

Lynne Gadd–Claxton

IN a first for Eastern Cape talent, half of the artists in what is dubbed the only vernacular stand-up comedy show in the country, are from this region. Wow Entertainment spokesman Monwabisi Grootboom said the “side-splitting laugh-a-minute” 99% Xhosa Comedy show will bring a number of firsts to Port Elizabeth when it is staged in the city tonight.

“For the first time in the life of the show, 50% of the artists in the line-up are Eastern Cape-based. We are bringing a record number of nine top comedians to Port Elizabeth,” Grootboom said.

The show, which has consistently grown in popularity since its inception in 2008, is wrapping up a countrywide tour in Port Elizabeth.

“The show is extremely funny. Its patrons enjoy a delivery in their mother tongue.

“One of the biggest selling points of the show has been consistency and a high level of production,” Grootboom said.

“We’ve never advertised a name that did not show up on the day of the show. I believe our patrons know and honour that.”

In urbanised society the mother tongue languages are wavering and Grootboom believes they are needed to appreciate one’s culture.

“African families are currently faced with perhaps the biggest cultural challenges of our time; that of indigenous language extinction generally due to urbanisation. Many children whose parents reside in the suburbs even at lower primary school levels are unable to converse in their mother tongues.”

“99% Xhosa Comedy serves as one method of language preservation in a buoyant atmosphere. The shows are furthermore attended by people who are proud of their mother tongue,” he said.

The 99% Xhosa comedians are Mbulelo “Manylaughs” Msongelwa and Siyabulela Seya – both from Port Elizabeth – Anele Shube, Tsepiso Nzayo, Skhumba Hlophe, Lwando Mahlakatha, Simphiwe Shembe and Siyabonga Radebe (also known as Sya-B).

Hlophe, known for his contribution on SABC1’s Mzansi Insider, said some humour can only be appreciated in the vernacular. “There are gags that are simply better appreciated when expressed in an African language. And for many of us, unlike other comedians like Sya-B who went to a Model C school, we have had limited exposure to the English language as we went to township schools,” Hlophe said.

The show also features Donovan Goliath, who described himself as the remaining percentage.

“People generally aren’t expecting me to speak nor understand Xhosa. But they have another thing coming,” he said.

Shembe said performing in vernacular “helps spread and broaden the comedy economy, while giving our vernacular languages more commercial value”.

99% Xhosa Comedy will be at the 2nd Avenue campus, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University tonight at 8pm. Tickets: R150 at Computicket.

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