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Thursday, September 30, 2010


Engaging hour of fun and nonsense from Afzal Khan. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The word “Mamoo” is Urdu for your “mother’s brother”, ie your maternal uncle. In Afzal Khan’s first full-length one-man stand-up comedy show, this popular veteran actor of stage, radio, film and television gets a chance to show his talents as a funny man.

Filling the wide Playhouse Drama theatre stage with his personality, his only set or props being a series of spotlights behind him displaying towers of red, blue and orange, Afzal Khan gave his audience a delightful evening’s entertainment. One full hour. With no let-up in the hilarious pace.

An hour is a long time to keep an audience of today captivated. With the invasion of technology into our lives, people have become used to quick fixes (internet, Facebook, Mixit, sms’s etc) and the average person’s span of concentration diminishes with each new development.

However, tonight’s audience showed no lack of concentration in a show that comprises brand new material as well as some of the highpoints from his stand-up routines over the past ten years. Thanks to his skilful performance, his audience responded in delight to his humour, reminiscences, stories and gentle jibes at people in the news – particularly those in the Indian film industry.

Hopping in and out of Urdu, Hindi and Tamil (a very amusing sequence on Michael Jackson), Afzal is a pleasing figure to watch. He’s nimble on his feet, highly versatile with his accents and can make a grimace look like an art form. He can dance and sing with equal capability and this gives him the edge over many other stand-up comedians.

Wicked smile at the ready, he dons a pair of sunglasses to show his resemblance to Mo Shaik after which he launches forth with a critical study of the brothers with appropriate songs for Schabir Shaik. He chats away with aplomb offering his hilarious takes on a number of subjects ranging from cellphones and vinyl records to World Cup songs and democracy. Retracing the days of his youth and the weekly highlight of going to the movies, he bemoans the modern trend of “new” Indians hiding the proper pronunciation of their ethnic names.

He focuses on the 150 years anniversary of the first arrivals of Indians in South Africa: “We gave this country sugar cane, it gave us diabetes!” and, unless it was in one of the vernaculars and I didn’t recognise any swear words, the language throughout remained above the belt.

Presented in Association with The Playhouse Company, Who's Your Mamoo? has a short run until October 2. Early booking is strongly advised. Tickets (pre-booked) range from R70 to R100 while tickets at the door cost R75 to R120. Book now through Computicket on 083 915 8000 or call 031 369 9596 (office hours). – Caroline Smart