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article imageOp-Ed: Nik Rabinowitz & Tats Nkonzo — yin and yang of S. African comedy

By Anne Sewell     Mar 20, 2012 in Entertainment
Cape Town - Comedy duo Nik Rabinowitz and Tats Nkonzo take to the stage at Cape Town's Baxter Theatre. One Jewish white, one black, they mix their risque humour well, stirring up stereotypes and stigmas of South Africa's racist past.
South African stand-up comedians Nik Rabinowitz and Tats Nkonzo, both well known in South Africa, are now collaborating, with hilarious results.
"We would like to dedicate this song to all the black people in the audience - I can only see one," says Rabinowitz. "I see three of us tonight," quickly adds Nkonzo, with the audience bursting into laughter.
For the next hour, the two South African comedians deliver their own brand of comedy.
Nik Rabinowitz and Tats Nkonzo
Nik Rabinowitz and Tats Nkonzo
Award-winning Rabinowitz said before the show: "In this country a lot of us do use comedy to confront various things and challenge certain ideas and it is just the tip of the iceberg."
"We do need to poke our fingers in certain places and say, 'well, this is still going on,' and I think particularly around Africa we need to do that - and we do," he added.
Their jokes range from religious and political gags, polygamy jokes (South African President Zuma has 5 wives) - satire which generally helps South Africans to accept uncomfortable truths.
While the comedy styles of both Rabinowitz and Nkonzo are very similar, they both bring their own brand of satire to the show.
Tats Nkonzo
Tats Nkonzo
Nkonzo started his career three years ago after taking part in a reality TV show for comics. He wants to use comedy to communicate his feelings about various subjects, but also says it must be funny. He usually appears on stage with a guitar and is a talented musician.
"Comedy is very much hiding hilarity in the humor - I'm saying what I want to say and you're accepting it and we kind of both win. I feel like I haven't cheated myself, I've told you what I need to say, I've given you laughs and yet I've left you with something. That's the tension for me," says Nkonzo.
On the subject of polygamy, Nkonzo says: "I had to sit down and go how do I say what I want to say, so then that's how the music thing came and then I go on the whole spiel about they don't have any love songs to sing to their wives and then people laugh - I win, they win.
"You know this song; you're like a dream come true, just want to be with you, you know it's plain to see, that you're the one for me ... four... five, if ever your work is done, then I'll get another one."
Tats Nkonzo and Nik Rabinowitz
Tats Nkonzo and Nik Rabinowitz
Rabinowitz is a wellknown impersonator with a loyal fan base from all over South Africa. Along with his comedy acts on the stage, he also has a regular slot on radio - his own political satire show.
After university, Rabinowitz joined a theatre company and travelled around South Africa and other African countries. He says this helped to enrich his understanding of the African continent and the different cultural elements, and he now uses this in his act.
"I spent time in Kenya as well - they do an interesting thing there where they mix up their 'L's' and their 'R's' in Kenya, so they would say things like, 'we know all about Mr Zuma, your plesident' and we'd say, 'What do you know about him?' 'And they'd say, 'We know he's got a big erection coming up this year,' and we say, 'Yes, that's true,'" said Rabinowitz, reciting one of the jokes in his act.
Nkonzo and Rabinowitz see themselves as the "watchdogs" of society in South Africa. With humour, they point fingers, expose the absurdity, and just plain make people laugh.
"And we have to do it in the light way," said Nkonzo. "There's an army, there are the president and the law makers and you know, whatevers, we are the comedy wing."
If you are in Cape Town or visiting shortly, their show comes highly recommended.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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