FORTYFIED. Written and performed by Nik Rabinowitz, directed by Brent Palmer
Nik Rabinowitz has turned forty and rather than dreaming of a red Ferrari or an illicit liaison, he is hoping for a night of uninterrupted sleep and a solitary visit to the bathroom. When he is not on the stage being funny he is the father to three young children and as anyone with toddlers knows, much of one’s life alternates between unfettered delight and exhausted despair. Rabinowitz masters the minutiae of parenthood and has the ability to relate the joys and sorrows with equal perspicacity.
Last year he explored the issue of sustainability, and had an elaborate set with bicycle-powered equipment and scaffolding, incorporating a nursery in its upper reaches. This year he has stripped it down and aside from some very stylish light bulbs and an exposed red curtain it’s just him, his microphone and a bottle of water. His ability to vividly reflect ordinary life-moments with irreverence and uncanny perception makes the presence of any set superfluous.
Jewish burials, parliamentary debates – all fair game
Rabinowitz’s ear for accents is flawless and he is as comfortable when mimicking a leader of the AWB or a member of the Jewish disciplinary council. While not all new material, with some of his jokes being familiar to audiences who have watched his other performances during the year, there is enough fresh material to make the show a highly entertaining experience. Jewish burials, being recognized in the Bo-Kaap and sex education for children are all fair game.
There is an underlying poignancy in some of the sketches and in particular his memories of his father. Underneath the hilarious circumstances of his father’s burial one can detect a poignancy and deep sense of longing for his departed father. His interchange with a call centre sales consultant, an experience with which everyone can relate, is hilarious and may offer a few pointers on how to deal with the next call you receive from an 031 number. His repetition of a parliamentary debate during the year in which offensive language was debated had everyone, including the leader of the DA Mmusi Maimane, guffawing in mirth. The tragedy of this particular routine was that it was mostly a verbatim report which could have been lifted directly from the Hansard.
Support act Yaseen Barnes gets down to it
Of course it wouldn’t be a 2016 comedy show without the standard inclusion of a few Trump jokes and recollections of artists that have died during the year. While Rabinowitz focuses more on the personal aspects of life, the opening comedian Yaseen Barnes was unabashedly political. Straying into the territory of jokes about terror and delivering several very witty puns highlighting the absurdity of Islamophobia, his deadpan delivery was the perfect foil for his incisive and politically relevant commentary.
Director Brent Palmer, as a comedian himself, has a personal understanding of comedy, the importance of timing and the danger of speeding things up too much. His directorial hand has succeeded in ensuring that Rabinowitz delivers the material at a slow and steady pace, allowing each set up to reach that precipice comfortably so that you are more than ready when Rabinowitz pushes you with gay abandon.
If forty is the new thirty there is no finer confirmation of that then the exuberance and boundless energy of Rabinowitz. Whatever your age, it’s been a rough year for everyone. Laughing at it may be the best way to deal with it.
Where and When: Baxter Theatre until 14 January 2017