Comedy, Bringing People Together

We know it’s there, we’ve been a victim of it, and we have witnessed it. Racism is a touchie subject in this country, every day we try to be racially correct when we are surrounded by people who are of a different race. As much as we love the term ‘Rainbow Nation’ by Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, used to capture the extraordinary diversity of races, tribes, creeds, languages and landscape that characterises modern South Africa.

We are still racially sensitive. Just this year; popular model Jessica Leandra Dos Santos, got axed from the South African edition of lads’ magazine FHM for using the k-word on twitter. It outraged most South Africans especially fellow model Tshidi Thamana, who also lashed out at Dos Santos. I won’t even attempt to judge these two individuals, perhaps it was wrong of them to publicise it, I don’t know. But we all think it, when someone annoys you at the mall, in line (oh, especially in line) or on the road we say racial comments amongst our friends and it’s no big deal.

Another event that stood out for me was the diversity ad by Nandos that got banned from getting air play on radio, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), DStv, M-Net and ETV. Personally, I thought the advert was hilarious. The “poofing” of the different races was funny, but people complained and ‘off with its head’.
So when I heard that Comedy Central Africa was hosting their first South African roast; I was waiting for something to happen since they were going to roast Steve Hofmeyr, the most dangerous white man in South Africa. From an article by Janet Smith titled, “The most dangerous white man in SA?”, Smith says when Hofmeyr arrived at Eugene Terr’Blanche’s funeral former national police commissioner Bheki Cele “was out-piped at the celebrity post when, Moses-like (Steve Hofmeyr), the real deal was already parting the sea of fans of the dead man in the crush outside the church.”

We know that he has an anger problem, the man poured tea on the editor of Huisgenoot/ YOU, Esmaré Weideman; he threatened to make a song about k*****s if the judged ruled in favour of Julius Malema in his hate speech trail, and he is a notorious philanderer.

Let me break it down for those who are not familiar with a roast. A roast is not for the kind hearted, it is grimy. There are liberal lashings of sexism, rough vagina jokes been thrown around and gay insults. It was a given that all of Hofmeyr’s past was about to be made fun of, and it did. To my disappointment Hofmeyr kept his cool most of time, maybe it was the turquoise suit he was wearing. “I have to go independent of the narrative out there. But for the roast, I’ll say anything. I have my armour. I’m used to those pokes about being a white, dumb Afrikaner, so I’ll be so ready for the roasters”, he mentioned in Smiths article.

The Head of Comedy Central Africa, Evert van der Veer said, “We are delighted that South African audiences have welcomed the roast concept so warmly to their hearts! Steve Hofmeyr, Trevor Noah and our roasters all rose to the occasion, helping us to create a major TV comedy event and ensuring our first ever roast on African soil was more successful that we could have imagined. The roast demonstrated what Comedy Central is all about: leveraging the power of comedy to bring people together, to look on the funny side of life, to put things into perspective and to address subjects that we don’t always talk about.”

If Hofmeyr could keep his cool, maybe we should all learn to take a chill pill.

Writer: Lerato Princess-Teresa Mashego

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