I’d now reached the point of having simultaneous careers - that of the ‘poet’ - the wild raving and drunkenly angry guy who'd leap up on stage at various concerts, dodge beer bottles, and rave forth with ranting verse poetry and increasingly longer 'funny sketches'.
And then there was the ‘playwright’, who seemed to be beginning to attract attention from the critics and the public. I created a show using the material of one of my heroes - Lenny Bruce. (While I have reviews of the show - I don't have the poster, unfortunately).
But it was shortly after doing the Lenny Bruce
show that it dawned on me that there was a huge gap in the South African market
for local comedy focused on similar targets that Bruce went after.
Sure, there was Pieter Dirk Uys and his Dame Edna revamp character ‘Evita Bezuidenhout’. But at the time, and still today, I loathed the idea of comedy that the Apartheid regime politicians could come and laugh at, and somehow ‘be part of the joke’. To me, the ongoing country-wide repression was just too serious, to make comedy which didn’t go directly for the jugular, and cause upset and horror amongst the scumbags responsible - if they even had the nerve to come to one of my shows in the first place.
There was also the elegant Robert Kirby, whose stand up had also inspired me and shown me what could be done locally - but still, there was nothing which came from the joyfully harsh, brutal and ‘obscenity-laden’ genres that I enjoyed.
Enter the new career of Ian Fraser, the ’stand up comedian’.
There were various right wing (read:
pro-Apartheid) comics around in bars, doing material to appease and appeal to
the racist f*cks benefiting from Apartheid, but on the side of the
anti-Apartheid movement, initially there was almost nothing. Many of these
racist 'pub comics' are still around, and have tried to reinvent themselves as
being democratic, but the truth was far nastier - the so-called South African
‘bar and pub comics’ circa 1986, were opportunistic, racist, neo-Nazi's of the
It’ll be covered in other sections, but I’ll need to explain briefly the origins of the title of my first solo comedy show. The ‘Bring Me Gandhi’ play with its message of actively endorsing violence against the Apartheid Government, had been enthusiastically received by a ‘Black’ readership newspaper called the 'New Nation' which reviewed the play.
The Government ‘banned’ and closed down that newspaper. I achieved some degree of unwanted official attention, as their review of ‘Gandhi’ was cited as one of the official reasons for the closing of the newspaper.
The Government official responsible for the closing down of the New Nation newspaper, was someone called ‘Stoffel Botha’. So naturally, I decided to go for the jugular (’Full ahead and damn the torpedos!’) and with a nod to Gary Trudeau, chose my title accordingly.
Looking at it now, apart from the obvious self-referential mentions of the previous Theatre pieces, the title itself, I suppose, was the ‘artwork’. The main visuals comprise top and bottom ‘torn paper’ - and a lone maggot twirling its way onto the page at left, along with a lone fly - and then a simple fly again, being used as an apostrophe.
Poster title as artwork, I guess.