Opening Night Review: Basically, Go See ‘The Single Dad’!

How it works is, if you’ve reviewed a comedy show before, you’ll get asked to do the next one, and then we’ll label you ‘The Comedy Girl’ and delegate all related responsibilities as such.. So, here’s Jil as ‘The Comedy Girl’ with her review on last night’s opening show for Jem Atkins’ The Single Dad.

My quick two cents: It’s a great achievement and a great show. It runs tonight and tomorrow evening before it leaves Durban for its tour.. so catch it while you can.

The time was upon us . The night had come. The dawn had broken. The moment had arrived on what would become the starting grounds for Jem Atkins first ever One Man Comedy Performance, The Single Dad.

Jem Atkins profile


We arrived at Seabrooke’s Theatre promptly at 19:42, amped and ready for light-hearted banter with random strangers lined up outside the door like beggars outside a soup kitchen. Well, they weren’t. They were all in the cafeteria drinking cheap red wine and laughing accordingly, like beggars outside a soup kitchen. They were wise and had bought tickets before hand. Damn people who think ahead of time. The vibe before the show amongst the beggars, I mean crowd was delightful. Everyone had seemed to have gotten a secret code that read “We’ll need to have a drink on Jem. It’s the buggers first night.” Everyone was there to see this man, this one man. And like proud parents we made our way to the theatre to support Durban’s boy.

The theatre seats 105 people. That’s right, 105 humans. And bearing in mind this was his first one-man show, the turn out was rather encouraging. There were minimal seats open, except for that one seat vibe between people who didn’t know each other – afraid to catch whatever infectious disease that gets transmitted via slight elbow brushes. Needless to say, we found our seats in the back row, amongst other keen-for-a-pick-me-up-stressed-out-elbow-infected people, ready for a damn good escape for an hour after a rather tiresome week. We were amped and ready to go: “Make us chuckle boy!”

The Single Dad will be at the Grahamstown Festival

And then he arrived. Dressed in his best attire. Presenting the swagger side to his personality (which is interesting because he’s white and an ex I.T. guy. White boys need to work for their swag yo, unless you’re Steven Tyler.) The comedian Jem Atkins! Bravo I say. Introducing himself with his first few jests, it was clear to see that he was at ease and confident with where he was at. He was home.

Jem resigned from a very comfortable I.T. position to pursue his passion in comedy. How’s that for selfless. Giving up a stable monthly income to spend time finding ways to give your every day man the best medicine there is, laughter. He should get a PhD (if that’s what doctors get) behind his name. I mean essentially he is giving out free meds quicker then a Nigerian pimp. Yes, he gets paid for it, I hear you, but hell that’s bloody cheap meds if you ask me. We’d take 3 courses of his antibiotic. (And so can you, his show runs for 3 nights.) Anyway, where was I…

He’s a very real comedian in the sense that most of his comedy is based on the life he’s lived with the people who still surround him. He finds his inspiration from his own existence.

His flow throughout the performance was effortless and smooth. Jem connected and interacted with his audience, incorporating champion ad-lib moments with the crowd. Sharing his life in jest: from I.T. guy to living his dream; from marriage to becoming a single dad. He had us laughing at his life. Wait a minute, that sounds cruel. Ah stuff it, it’s true. His life made people smile, laugh and gasp and I rate that’s the result he wanted regardless of how the night ended up going.

Jem Atkins profile


Jem brought the evening to an easy close with a not-your-usual-comedic-outline to his show’s message behind the message, which I didn’t know existed till that moment… I need to re-watch every stand up comedy DVD I’ve ever seen. Good thing it’s the weekend.

Anyway, he had many words to say about this message, but essentially it is this…”Love, and love well.” And if you aren’t loved well in return then shut the front door and take your love elsewhere. Unless its your teen kid that’s giving you horns, in which case suck it up, it’s only a few years of hell. Unless your kid never grows up, in which case you’re screwed. “Love and love well.” Encouraging message Dr Atkins. He then proceeded to tell a few more gags before officially ending the evening off. He couldn’t get enough, and neither could his audience: I’m sure if we lied and said the time was only 8:39 he’d have kept going. Time restrictions, who needs them.

The man was brilliant and did fantastically for his first evening. Ever.

Chatting to him after the show you really catch a glimpse of how momentous the evening was for him and for the comedy scene in Durban in general. I asked him if it went how he had hoped, to which he replied, “It was amazing. Better than my mom or brother would’ve expected. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

I haven’t seen a man so chuffed since my husband asked me to marry him.

Jem’s cracking beers with himself in victorious fashion in the back of his dressing corridor. He’s owning his time in the light and he knows it. Amped and ready for the next two shows. That’s right, The Single Dad runs for two more nights okes. Get your asses down to Seabrooke’s Theatre tonight or tomorrow night for a show that will get you lost in time (an hour to be precise) and high on his specifically formulated medication. The best kind there is.

Giving up I.T. for a PhD in comedy, brilliant choice! Here’s for the future where you become too famous to recognise any locals…

Except me,