Comedy Review: Alan Committie – Live And Let Laugh, Or Bond Offers Good Returns

April 9, 2022

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By BRUCE DENNILL

Alan Committie: Live And Let Laugh – No Time To Cry / Directed by Christopher Weare / Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre, Montecasino, Fourways

 

With his usual show cycle somewhat accelerated as the easing of lockdown allows for theatres to at least be more reliable in operation, if still not at the occupancy levels they should be, Joburg audiences may feel that it was just a few weeks back that the comedian was in town with his Apocalaughs Now! show. That was actually six months ago, but time flies when you’re having relatively much more fun than you were when entertainment was restricted to what people’s cats were doing in the background during Zoom calls.

Happily – it’s a wise choice in terms of giving audiences something other than the cliches delivered by newscasts and less-than-inspired friends and family chats – Committie steers away from current affairs. There’s an argument for one of the roles of a comedian to be to help audiences process bad news, but spending an hour and a half being happy is an enjoyable outcome too.

As suggested by this show’s title, there is a theme that largely ignores the headlines, instead focusing on a shared anniversary: the Bond film franchise releasing its 25th title in the recent No Time To Die, and this show being Committie’s 25th solo stand-up effort. This allows Committie to mine the rich vein of satire that is always close to the surface in Bond films – if you’ve never smirked at how over-the-top the plots are, or how farcical the villains, you’re perhaps not best suited to appreciating a comedy show – using his well-developed strengths, including intricate wordplay, physical comedy and, in this piece, a fair bit of improvisation based on what audience members give him to work with via their comments and physical attributes.

With so many past shows and so many repeat audiences, it’s not surprising that a large element of the appeal of this show rests in the relationship between performer and punters. There is good-natured banter throughout – not heckling, but rather vocal feedback on a particular gag; often a knowingly cheesy one – that highlights the joy felt on both sides of the footlights. Committie regularly, and cheerfully, corpses, often depending on the response or lack thereof to a particular line, included in the script for his own amusement as much as anyone else’s.

There is also a welcome return for his security guard character Johann Van Der Walt, whose heavily accented mispronunciation of a woman in the audience’s name is enough to set half the room off in paroxysms of laughter.

Niall Griffin’s set design adds scale and impact to various sequences throughout the show, and the inevitable flipchart appears too. But the strong, reliable, hilarious core of the piece is Committie’s ability to combine quirky storytelling with theatrical concepts and movement. And his peppering of the performance with standalone gags that may or may not land – simply to see if there’s someone in the room on the same wavelength as him – adds a layer of craft to an already beautifully constructed production guaranteed to leave you better after you leave than when you walked in.

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