Barely Legal: The 18 Year Old Democracy

Bare Comedy

Rating ****

21.10-22.00, Assembly Roxy

Dave Levinsohn and Loyiso Gola are billed as South Africa’s premier comedians, and Barely Legal does not disappoint as a platform to bring both these talented men together. Each performing sets independent of each other was an interesting choice, as it would have been nice to have seen some interaction between them. Regardless this was still an extremely successful piece of evening entertainment.

This is comedy at its bare minimum: one man, one microphone, one bottle of water (repeat after 25 minutes). Levinsohn takes to the stage first, his expertly expressive face a huge factor in garnering his applause, followed by Gola whose wry giggling to himself was so infectious I could not help but smile. Both engage well with the audience, dealing well with being lightly heckled and happily bouncing ideas off the punters. A few jokes were perhaps pushed a bit too far over the racist or sexist boundary, being met with an uneasy silence, forcing both to step outside their prepared material but that they did so with ease and confidence, marks them as true comics.

Their subject matter was astute and topical, never straying too far into taboo or contentious ground. They structured their time around the idea of assimilation and difference; finding similarities between South African and Scottish/ British culture before focusing on the differences, but at no point alienating the audience from what they were talking about. We were treated to such diverse topics as hijacking, packaged meat, the Olympics, Nelson Mandela and pornography. Gola strayed slightly more into the below the waistline category which was slightly uncomfortable given the average age of the audience – the gentleman next to me who became the focus of a penis joke was certainly old enough to be my father. Indeed.

The audience was unfortunately small tonight, and they certainly deserve more: more people means more laughs (well, hopefully) and more laughs means more jokes. They are eminently capable of feeding off the energy of the audience who drive them to improve and try out new material. If they do get even better then audiences are in for even more of a treat than I was this evening.

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