Ever had to think on your feet while entertaining a crowd? Manez, got first hand experience in front of a full comedy club. Should he keep his day job or has a new comedian been born?
After countless hours scratching our heads about what to do for the Live Challenge, it was decided that Manez, the tallest guy in the office, would do a stand-up routine at Ragazzi Lounge’s comedy night in Cape Town. He smiled from ear to ear when he heard the news, but his smile gradually turned into a nervous half-smile as the night approached.
For you the reader to appreciate how funny this was, you first need to know a thing or two about Manez. Okay, I’ve already mentioned that he’s the tallest guy in the office. He also happens to be one of those larger than life personalities. He never runs out of stuff to say and, quite frankly, he has never let people’s lack of interest in what he has to say stop him! Very confident and at ease with different types of people, that’s Manez.
Two hours before the show began Manez was really nervous. He had lost faith in the material he had prepared and he was re-writing everything. He had spent hours in solitude in a dimly lit room…okay, I’m lying. The room wasn’t dimly lit. But he did spend time writing and re-writing his lines and getting pointers from a comedian friend of his. Having watched stand-up comedy for years and with a background in theatre and performance, he figured the whole ordeal was not going to be too difficult.
An hour before the event started Ragazzi was buzzing with people, and the Lounge music playing softly in the background added to the ambiance. However, it didn’t help Manez’s nerves that the other acts for the night – comedians Cathy Glass and Christiaan Steenkamp – were there with their respective “entourages” and they all seemed to know each other. Not a great thing for a new act.
Before the final stage call Manez told me he hoped they did not put him on first because that meant he would have to warm the crowd. And what do you know?
“Our first act for tonight…give it up for Maneeezzz!”
I cheered like I’d been paid! (I also cheered because he looked so relaxed.)
He delivered his first joke like a pro. “My name is Manez and no, I’m not pregnant.” The audience was in stitches and he fed off the attention. For half of his set his hand rested on his boep (belly), which he referred to as his BEE muscle. The jokes that had the crowd going were when he poked fun at people’s looks. “If New Year’s resolutions were possible, ugly people could resolve to be pretty. Nkosazana Zuma could be pretty by the end of the year!”
As he delivered his parting joke, he looked a little freaked out. As if he was asking himself, “did I just do that?”
He triumphantly made his way off the stage with a goofy grin on his face and his friends cheering him on.
I’ve always been bugged by the fact that many people thought I was funny and said I would make for a good comic. So back in 2007 I got on stage at Mzoli’s [in Gugulethu] and shared a joke and all everyone just looked at me. No one laughed, not even my friends. So when I was challenged by Live to do a stand-up comedy routine, the memory of that horrible day came back – It felt like it happened yesterday. Surprisingly though, I said yes and I was OK with the whole thing until the evening of the event. I was overwhelmed with fear and nervousness, and the sweat just wouldn’t stop dripping. Minutes later, my name was called and I ran on stage and when i heard the laughter after greeting the crowd I felt such a high that only disappeared hours later…. I would definitely do it all over again!
Writer: Nozuko Poni and Mawande ‘Manez’ Sobethwa