By BRUCE DENNILL
The Award-Winning Podcast with Warren Robertson: Guests – Ebenhaezer Dibakwane & Dillan Oliphant / The Goliath Comedy Club, Bannister Hotel, Braamfontein, Johannesburg 7
Warren Robertson’s Award-Winning Podcast concept is now in its second series, and in its live format, where an audience is present for the recording of a new episode, it continues to present a an agreeably idiosyncratic alternative to the traditional one-person-and-a-mic stand-up formula.
Hosting it this time around in the Goliath Comedy Club in Braamfontein feels like it should be a good match, too, with the fairly new venue having been envisioned as a “New York-style” comedy club – intimate, and perfectly suited to face-to-face performance between a comic and his or her fans, rather than the more detached nature of a music concert, for instance. Sadly, there is still that lingering Johannesburg audience reticence to wander into the city centre, and the Goliath Comedy Club is one of several arts establishments in the area where attendances are affected by this mindset. To be fair, the Bannister Hotel, in the basement of which the club is situated, has no dedicated or off-street parking, unlike the Joburg or Market theatres, which may affect the confidence of potential punters.
Nonetheless, the small crowd that did arrive was treated to a combination of improvised weirdness and good new material. First in the chair opposite Robertson as the host – the first part of each segment plays like a talk show interview – was Ebenhaezer Dibakwane, whose energy and confidence complements a quick mental processing time that allows him to ad-lib with hilarious effectiveness.
Robertson kicks off with what he likes to call his “first date questions”, which include such generic sweet nothings as, “If you could go back in time, but couldn’t kill baby Hitler, which baby would you kill?” It’s obvious that the comics in the firing line aren’t expecting such enquiries – who would? – so the astuteness and entertainment value of their comebacks is a large part of what makes each podcast work (or not). Dibakwane gave as good as he got, with the almost ADD liveliness that typifies his solo routines making his remarks and anecdotes even more effective.
Second guest Dillan Oliphant is a very different kind of performer – much more laid-back, dry and cynical – and in this format, his segment was not as effective as his colleague’s. That’s not to say that he didn’t have some great lines – Robertson highlighted Oliphant’s reputation as a formidable roast participant, and found himself on the receiving end of a couple of brutal retorts – but that the second part of the performance simply had less fizz.
Both comics were obliged to present a short set of their own material, and again, the comics’ respective dynamism levels played a role, with Dibakwane’s cheerful vigour thrusting his punchlines out into the audience while Oliphant’s more considered approach required a little warming up to (though it was smart and on the money once that had happened).
Three good comedians – Robertson’s role in driving the process is a gag-filled segment on its own – in a space where fans are able to directly connect with the talent.
Listen to The Award-Winning Podcast with Warren Robertson here.