Nik Rabinowitz Came to Durban

Nik Rabinowitz

For those of you who missed this year’s Durban Comedy Festival, don’t make that mistake again. Besides the big fuss about the international acts, you missed out on the comedian which made the show for most of the locals I spoke to… Nik Rabinowitz.
For those of you who were there, am I right or am I right?

Even if you’ve never seen a stand-up show in your life, you’re probably still looking at pictures of Nik and thinking “Maybe I have been to his show? He looks so familiar”. I’ll put you out your misery, Nik is also ‘the guy from that ad’ (direct yourself to his YouTube channel).

In reality, Nik is known for his unique style of comedy and story-telling abilities. The 2008 Comic of the Year, is our most accomplished Jewish, Xhosa-speaking comic and I would also argue our only one.

I’d have to say that off-stage the man is quite amiable as well. After two of the zero31 team, Jil and Dark Knight, went to review the aforementioned comedy festival, we all gathered at local morning-on-the-beach coffee jol, Jiran. Who should sit down at the table next to us but Nik himself. Out of my commitment to you, the reader, I left my comfy seat placed in front of my halloumi breakfast with a flat white blended from beans hand-picked by a virtuous coffee farmer somewhere in Africa who, in my mind, walks around with a permanent golden glow around him, or at least deserves to (You guessed right, I like coffee).

I put my best forward-foot forward, congratulated the man on his show and asked if I could do a little interview with him for the blog. Surprisingly, he said he had read the blog and would love to. The fact that he read the blog was surprising, not his willingness because, to be honest, he’s probably the friendliest celeb-type I’ve spoken to.

 

TwoSlice Dré: Firstly, hows the Comedy Festival been so far, any memories that stick out?
Nik Rabinowitz: One of the Indian security personnel telling me he liked my jokes but that my Jewish parents must be very disappointed with my career choice.
TS: When you think of Durban, in a professional context, what comes to mind?
NR: Durban… in a professional context. That’s some kind of oxymoron right?
TS: Are there any Durban comedians that Nik Rabinowitz has an undisclosed bromance with?
NR: My Jewish coloured brother from another mother, Carvin H Goldstone.

Nik on stage at The Durbs Comedy Festival

If there was no Julius Malema, or polygamy was as normal as getting your mobile spammed by the DA, who or what would fill that gap for South African comedy.
Nothing. I would have to give up comedy and pursue my original dream of becoming a goat herder in the Transkei.
You are fluent in languages that span diverse cultures in our country… Would you say that genuine ability has afforded you the chance to talk about things that audiences might not otherwise feel comfortable allowing other white comedians to engage in?
Yes, probably, although it is the job of the comedian to take risks either way. But it’s probably better for Trevor Noah as his genuine ability has afforded him the chance to make loads of money.

What typically happens, in any given moment in time, where Nik Rabinowitz looks on and says “There’s a joke in there somewhere”? What does the writing process involve for you?
Think of the TV show House. You know when someone says something completely random and Dr. House gets an epiphany that helps him to suddenly cure the patient of a fatal disease? It’s just like that. I save lives. With laughs.
Comparatively speaking, your comedy could be described as relatively clean, yet you are massively successful and well-respected. Isn’t that some sort of achievement in comedy?
Yes, but I get away with it because I send emails and letters to my fellow comedians where I insult them using very coarse language so they know I’m bad.

He looks white, and he'll tell you he's Jewish... but he's about to blast you in Xhosa.

Big overseas much? I mean, appearing on UK’s biggest improv TV show, Mock of the Week. Tell us about working abroad, but not the part where you were a barman during a gap year.
I hosted the Oscars a couple of years back, no big deal. I haven’t done much overseas since that.

Check out one of Nik’s clips from Mock of the Week, if you don’t know what Mock of the Week is, go here.

Obviously, comedians often poke fun at themselves or what forms their identity as a person, like faith, race etc. You talk about being Jewish; do you ever encounter the other side of the coin where people are “highly offended” by your making light of it, or do you think all of us are comfortable laughing at ourselves?
The thing about Jewish people is, they get so much bad press that when someone of their own is successful, they really don’t care much how or why. As a comedian, you have to come to terms with the fact that now and again you are going to offend someone. There’s no getting around that. But I wouldn’t tell Fikile Mbalula to shut up and finish his Hennesy again.

You present a topical show on 702 called “The Week That Wasn’t”… so, the London riots, whats the issue there?
I saw it coming ages ago. I KNEW the Internet was a bad idea. Seriously though, I think it’s just the youth protesting against their parents for not buying them i-phones. They had to organize the riots on the Blackberries… do you know how shameful that is?

Comedy is quite a tough gig for local comedians in Durban: I don’t know, is there something we as an audience, or the performers themselves, are not doing that we should be. Speak, oh sage…
The problem is that Durbanites just aren’t angry enough. People in Jo’burg are pissed off all the time, so they need to laugh – they don’t really care how funny you are.

.... Butter fingers!!! (watch the clip)

My comic friend, Dusty Rich, is working hard on fulfilling his life dream of inventing a time machine, called the iTrip Xtreme. What does the future for Nik Rabinowitz look like? Remember if you’re lying, Dusty will know about it (as soon as the transformulator-piston arrives from Russia)…
The future looks pretty cool; everyone will be wearing one-piece tin-foil outfits, we’ll put a little bean in the microwave and it’ll print out a meal and our cars will fly. Can’t wait. I look forward to being 148 years old and looking like I did when I was 11.

 

There was a point at local celeb-hangout, Jiran, that Nik dropped a quick comment that the time for his always-sold-out solo shows to make their way to Durban, is approaching. Stalk him on Facebook and you’ll know when that time is. No laka!

Man kisses,
TwoSlice Dré