What it takes to put this all together

Show producer, Eddy Cassar shares the ins and outs of the festival, and just what goes in to putting this brilliant show together every year!

Putting together the Jive Cape Town Funny Festival delivered by Turkish Airlines is no easy task. Top comic Tumi Morake observed one year and commented. “I’ve worked it out. Eddy puts on a show of his favourite performers and then attends every one of them”. She is actually exactly right. But it’s not easy finding my favourites year after year.

To complicate matters, top international performers work on an eighteen month cycle, so I am always working two years ahead! I have been fortunate to have visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival annually for the last decade. Over this time, the Funny Festival has changed, incorporating international street or variety acts and can now be best described as a comedy festival, where international variety acts meet local stand-up comics on a Cape Town stage.

I try and theme every year, even though the public are not aware of it, it is subconsciously evident as the evening unfolds. Last year, the theme was “Elegance”. The silver stage, the C Squared suites, Ennio Marchetto all assisted in upgrading the experience and making it an elegant night out.

This year “The Circus” is the theme. International vaudeville comic performer, Mario: Queen of the Circus returns with his new show, accompanied by Norwegian circus superstar Captain Frodo, who has been performing in circus tents since the age of four. Be ready to be blown away by these five star acts.

The show is built around these two performers together with one of the freshest magic acts I have seen in years. I am not going to give it away, but Paul Dabek’s closing piece is FANTASTIC.

Add some fresh faces on the South African comedy scene, such as Capetonians Dalin Oliver and Daniel Mpilo Richards, Gautengers Loyiso Madinga and Ndumiso Lindi, held together by legends Alan Committie, Marc Lottering and Mel Jones and you have an interesting mix of entertainers. The cocktail that emerges will be a hilarious surprise that will keep us chuckling for days.

Over the years I have been fortunate to be invited to numerous international comedy festivals. I attended the Freiburg Variety Showcase in Germany in late January this year. I found some beautiful, gentle variety acts from Spain, Italy, Holland and France. We are presently negotiating, so let’s see what happens.

I get to see about 100 shows each year, both locally or in London, Edinburgh or this year, in Freiburg. The one which impressed the most was Daniel Mpilo Richards in Mike van Graan’s Pay Back the Curry. Daniel is great at everything, so I have asked him to perform two or three segments from the show. It is beyond brilliant.

It takes time to creatively curate the Festival. Add sponsorship negotiations, contracts, air tickets, hotel bookings, set layout, etc. etc. and then getting each and every performance sold, is no easy task.

In a nutshell, that’s how I put the Funny Festival together. I am tired just by writing this piece. However, as Hannibal of the A-Team says, “it’s great when a plan comes together”. In my heart of hearts, I know I have a great, diverse and interesting, hilarious festival. Let’s enjoy it together.