By BRUCE DENNILL
Stuart Taylor – Funny, You Should Say That / Directed by Rob Van Vuuren / Auto & General Theatre On The Square, Sandton, Johannesburg
Cape Town comic Stuart Taylor is one of the more approachable comedians around, and his considerable charm is one of the centrepieces of his performance in this new one-man show. It’s an important factor, as there’s nothing else on stage bar a mic stand and a bar stool with a bottle of water on it. Without these embellishments – or distractions – it’s left to Taylor to not only be a stand-up comedian, but also a walks-around comedian, and an engages-with-audience comedian.
He handles all these roles with relaxed confidence, making sure that everyone in the theatre feels included, even if it’s only to be informed that they appear to have take longer than some of their peers to understand a punchline.
There are a few such moments, when an older and mostly white audience appear to be slightly perplexed by an observation made by their host, whose upbringing on the Cape Flats suggests that he likely has a wider perspective in some areas of South African life.
Generally, Taylor’s material is gently observational, with riffs on his relationship with and the behaviour of his kids (the “other K-word”) and some of the more alternative characters he comes into contact with around Cape Town. A section dealing with drug addicts and the unlikely objects they purloin to sell in order to fund their habits is particularly funny.
Taylor is, for the most part, an unusually clean performer, to the extent that when he does swear, it has a jarring effect that’s useful in terms of highlighting the point he’s making. The air of intimate conversation he creates throughout most of the show also contrasts well with a segment towards the end when he tackles more difficult subject matter and laughs become a touch sparser as thoughtfulness increase. This is where the nuances in the title of the show become clear: by including that comma after the word “funny”, Taylor has made the name a directive rather than a throwaway phrase.
This is relatively traditional, no-frills stand-up, with the theatre setting adding comfort and closeness rather than spectacle.