LIFE BEGINS. Written and performed by Riaad Moosa.
‘Tis the season for at least two of Cape Town’s top comedians to lament the fact that they’re turning forty. First Nik Rabinowitz wondered if he was having a mid-life crisis in Fortyfied, and now Riaad Moosa appears a trifle bewildered in Life Begins.
In fact, the comics share a few points of commonality apart from their ages: both are married with three kids, and both rely on their religious backgrounds to form a major part of their schtick. No matter that Rabinowitz is Jewish and Moosa is Muslim, each employs an approach – the wry insider’s viewpoint – that is endearingly familiar to those who follow as fans. [The two have also joined up in the past with fellow Capetonian comedian Marc Lottering, himself the son of a Christian preacher man, to present a show called 3 Wise Men – pretty clever, that.]
Anyhoo. Moosa is maturing. And he’s not quite sure how to feel about this, and about the world becoming a weird place, and about his children dissing his Mickey Mouse imitations, and about crazy car drivers who spit, and numerous other issues. So Life Begins is a form of therapy, Moosa explains. It’s a chance for him to angst about all the stuff that is causing him angst – and he doesn’t even have to pay for it. We, the audience, do!
Personal and political irritations
Being the consummate professional he is, Moosa moves swiftly through both the personal and the political irritations he’s noted over the past year or so. As a father, he’s observed the behaviour of his children with a fond bemusement that translates well into comedic fodder. As a Capetonian of colour, he’s experienced the conduct of his fellow citizens with a degree of amazement that can be converted into laughs. As a Muslim man, he’s noted the rise of Trump and the demise of personal freedoms with a degree of distaste that also transmutes into humour. As a person about to hit the Big Four Oh, he’s not quite sure where to go with all these noises in his head, but he’s still able to turn them into a laughfest for the rest of us.
And amusing Life Begins certainly is. But one couldn’t help noticing a sort of flatness, almost a by-rote performance on media night. One thing that has always struck one about Moosa’s shows, whether seen live or on DVD, is the lithe energy he projects. However, it was a muted form that made its presence felt at the Baxter. One reason could be that Moosa really does feel a tad out of sorts at turning 40. The other could be that his son is seriously ill, as he told us at the start of the show, and he was finding it hard, not to mention bizarre, to be trying to make people laugh while his child was suffering.
To me, this sounds like the real reason for a slightly flat, and subsequently drawn-out show. Our sympathies, for a tough situation.
On an additional note, the two opening acts acquitted themselves with original style. Tats Nkonzo is an old hand at being charming while dropping bombs, while Kagiso Mokgadi remains a personal fave with his deadpan delivery and spot-on scripting.
In all, a pleasant evening. At two hours, maybe a little long, but you get your buck’s worth.
Where and when: Baxter Theatre, 27 January to 25 February