REVIEW OF LIVE FROM BOERASSIC PARK IN LONDON — JUNE / JULY 1997
Comedy: There's life in the old Boers yet
Live from Boerassic Park, Tricycle Theatre, London
– James Rampton, The Independent, 14 June 1997
Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout, "the most famous white woman in South Africa", swaggers around
regally in a splendiferous silver top that even Gary Glitter might think twice about
wearing. "How can I be sorry about apartheid?" she asks sniffily. "It had nothing
to do with me."In Live from Boerassic Park, Pieter-Dirk Uys, the impish man behind
the monstrous woman, has fashioned a show out of that most unfashionable subject
for comedians: politics. He must be just about the only stand-up left who is prepared
to utter the P-word in public.
But, there again, when you're a South African, it's well nigh impossible to avoid
politics. An apolitical act about South Africa would be like a routine on David Mellor
that didn't mention toe-sucking or Chelsea strips — unthinkable. Delving around in
his dressing-up box, Uys takes aim at the dinosaurs who still walk South Africa three
years after the end of apartheid.And he is not short of targets. Putting on a dash
of lipstick, a blonde wig, an Alice band and a pout, Uys turns before our very eyes
into a Jewish housewife demanding a monument to the work of white liberals like herself
during The Struggle. "We stayed here when everybody else fled to London NW3," she
moans. "We treated our servants like human beings, in spite of the fact that they
behaved like kaffirs."
But black people are not spared his darts, either. Uys marvels at the fact that Winnie
Mandela has returned, Lazarus-like, to the political mainstream. "She's bounce-back
Winnie," he says, with no little awe, "the bungee-jumping champion of the ANC." He
then pulls out a Winnie Mandela souvenir ashtray, which is framed by a mini car-tyre.
While such defiantly non-PC daring is to be applauded, some of Uys's material depends
too heavily on an intimate knowledge of South African politics. He even breaks into
Afrikaans. Did you know that the South African Health Minister had been implicated
in a financial scandal? Did you even know who the South African Health Minister was?
No, nor did I. When he broadens his scope, Uys is on more fertile ground. He laughs
at the African-American tourists who traipse around his country, behaving like Oprah
Winfrey: "They're always in tears." And he warns what would have happened if the
Tories had won: "We in South Africa would have had sanctions against the UK. We would
have boycotted Earl Grey tea and refused to listen to the Spice Girls." Politics,
it seems, need not be a dirty word for comedians.