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Critical Dialogue S1E13
2021 in Review
Mark Twain once said, “that the human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” Even if this is an exaggeration, it might explain the human love for humour, specifically the art of comedy.
Comedy has a role in contemporary society beyond just making people laugh; the work of comedians like Trevor Noah and The Daily Show are evidence of the impact comedy can have more widely.
Living in a global pandemic has meant that the past couple of years have been long and strange – a time of isolation, anxiety and grief for many. On the day before we bid 2021 farewell and welcome 2022, the Cornerstone Institute Critical Dialogues will review the year through a comedic lens.
Comedian Lunga Tshuku will host a panel of comedians and cultural commentators to get their light-hearted perspectives on the year that has passed and reveal their various methods for navigating it.
The Host and Guests
All-round entertainer, Lunga Tshuka grasps the funny side of life – to make people happy! When it comes to talent, Cape Town is
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Born and raised in Cape Town and a proud resident of Mitchell’s Plain, Mel Jones describes herself as ‘the favourite’ of three siblings.
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Chris has been writing and performing Afrikaans poetry for more than 30 years. He is inspired by James Matthews, with whom
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Openly gay Capetonian stand-up comedian Eugene Mathews has etched himself into the concrete of South Africa’s comedy industry.
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All-round entertainer, Lunga Tshuka grasps the funny side of life – to make people happy! When it comes to talent, Cape Town is filled with it, but very rarely do we come across a comedian who is able to give his audience a mix of talent, charm, music and dance. His imitations of Louis Armstrong, Maxwell and well-known rock band The Darkness add flair and a unique flavour to his set and another dimension to his stage show. His beat-boxing is also fantastic! Lunga's comedic career began in 2012 and since then he has performed alongside or headlined with: Marc Lottering, Carl Weber, Mel Jones, Kurt Schoonraad, Deep Fried Man, Nik Rabinowitz and Angel Campey, among many others. Lunga is also a proficient and experienced MC. He is currently the resident MC for Real Art Wednesdays (RAW), an open-mic platform for various types of talent that he hosts on Wednesdays.
Born and raised in Cape Town and a proud resident of Mitchell’s Plain, Mel Jones describes herself as ‘the favourite’ of three siblings. She is a single mother, comedian, award-nominated producer and energetic MC and entertainer. Her career started taking flight when she was well received at the Spier Amphitheatre only six short weeks after doing her very first open mic slot. Since then, you may have heard her on the radio as co-presenter of a very popular morning show, seen her on SABC 3′s Comedy Showcase, The Phat Joe Show, the King Size Comedy Tour, the Blacks Only Comedy Show, Mind The Gap, The Heavyweight Comedy Jam, Kings & Queens of Comedy, the critically acclaimed comedy and sketch show, Bitches, the Vodacom Funny Festival (as the festival’s very first female host), or on Comedy Central. She is also hugely popular as a corporate comedian and MC. There’s a strong possibility that you may have read about her in various magazines (not the ‘bikini’ mags – the edu-tainment ones. Ask her mom, she’s saved every copy!). In fact, recently she was the guest editor for Khuluma magazine, Kulula.com’s in-flight magazine. She’s also been featured in a book, Mitchell’s Plain – A Place in the Sun, which led to an award-winning production, in which she starred and which was showcased at the Suidoosterfees at the Artscape in Cape Town for two years in a row. The shows, Doing It for the Money and Still Doing It – in which she co-starred with another very popular Cape Town comedian – have been met with great reviews.
Chris has been writing and performing Afrikaans poetry for more than 30 years. He is inspired by James Matthews, with whom he attended workshops and presented at events. He has focussed most of his work on performance poetry and the development of young poets. He has performed at many venues, including the District Six Museum and Jazz on the Rocks. His poetry has been published in the District Six Museum poetry anthology. He also has a tile on the floor of memory for poets at the museum. His poems have been published by District Six Museum and the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, in Carapace, and in a high-school textbook edited by Daniel Hugho. He has performed a series of poetry events with the Ghoema Jazz Musician Hilton Schilder at the District Six Cafe. He has facilitated poetry with the ‘Words with Saying, Songs Worth Singing’ project of the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation. A video of this programme was produced by the SABC and his performance was flighted on Cape TV for three years. Beyond this project, he facilitated a poetry series with young poets during 2007 at Catu, the Irish Pub off Greenmarket Square. They were joined by a few musicians and the project evolved into the Cape Cultural Collective (CCC). This lead to a three-year partnership with District Six Museum, a five-year partnership with the Slave Church, annual performances at the One City Many Cultures events, and Artscape. The CCC won a provincial award for its contribution to the Arts. In 2012, he was a contributing poet to the CCC anthology, At Truth’s Edge, which is the title of one of his poems. The book was sold out and reprinted by the CCC. In 2013, he was selected with Tony Stuart and Khadija Heeger to perform at the French Autumn Festival in Paris. The performance was a great success. The poems were translated into French for the audience. A number of his poems have become very popular and are performed by NGO facilitators and priests at church services and many community events. He is working on a series of short stories and poems. He will be contributing to an anthology of poems for the CCC, to be published in 2022.
Openly gay Capetonian stand-up comedian Eugene Mathews has etched himself into the concrete of South Africa's comedy industry. His keen wit, amazing hair and razor-sharp tongue will tickle your funny bones as well as your brain. Over the past eleven years Eugene has played various comedy shows and venues on South Africa's comedy circuit with rip-roaring success and become a rather sought-after Master of Ceremonies. He is also an active champion of the LGBTQ community. His work as co-presenter/producer of Bush Radio's LGBTQ show, The Salon, was awarded with an EvH Pink Award in the Media category. The annual Cape Town Pride LGBTQ Comedy Show, which he curates, is always a successful affair. His 'beat ignorance with excellence' approach to homophobia has yielded positive results and his debut one-man comedy special, The Relaunch Of Gina, has been met with rave reviews. Astute, shrewd and wickedly funny, Eugene will have you quoting him in the morning.