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BARNYARD COMEDY FESTIVAL (article first published : 2005-03-1)

Itís a case of out with the old and in with the new as a week long Comedy Festival showcasing South Africaís cutting-edge talent replaces Barry Hilton at The Barnyard Theatre from March 8 to 13.

The Comedy Festival sees evergreen Eddie Eckstein hosting a comedy evening that showcases the diverse talents of four of South Africaís hottest young comedians - Kurt Schoonraad, Stuart Taylor, Ndumiso Linde and Dave.

Eddie was a founder member of The Bats and, when they disbanded in 1980 after 16 years, he followed a solo career. He brought much laughter to SABC audiences as Mannie Bloom in SABCís Oh George which was followed by a year of performing of in Sydney, Australia. On his return to SA Eddie starred in productions likeLittle Shop Of Horrors and also delved into comedy, appearing in the popular comedy show Biltong and Potroast. The Bats have reformed but Eddie is now taking to The Barnyard stage with his own particular brand of comedy.

Kurt Schoonraad has an instantly engaging presence and embraces his audience with warmth, instead of making them into targets. A consummate storyteller, he has stories for every occasion, and his mimic skill makes these characters larger than life. He was persuaded to give comedy a try by his friends, winning a newcomers slot at the Smirnoff Festival in both 2000 and 2001, as well as on the fabulous nationwide 5fm Heavyweight Comedy Jams.

Kurt is no stranger to either the big or small screen, with a well received role as gangster in local film production A-zu-re, guest appearances on the Barry Hilton show, as well as a recently completed run as the host for SABC 3's long-running Comedy Showcase.

Internationally, the press has also taken notice of Kurt and he appeared on the cover of the New York Times, and was recorded as part of a BBC World Service documentary on South African comedy. Kurt also stars in the local documentary production Going Nowhere Slowly with a host of other personalities which is being screened on SABC 3. Kurt Schoonraad is one of the most recognisable faces in South African comedy.

Ndumiso Lindi hails from Zwelitsha, a small township next to King Williamís Town in Eastern Cape. He came to Cape Town to study a national diploma in graphic design at Cape Technikon, and this is when the comedy bug really bit. Comedy has always been a part of his life, being raised by parents who believed that humour is second in importance only to discipline. Ndumiso consider his family members as some of the greatest comics, and they, along with other comedy idols like Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby continue to inspire him.

In 2004, during the Vodacom Comedy Campus tour, Ndumiso plucked up the courage to get up on stage in front of the entire tech and try out three minutes of comedy. He was amazed at the feeling one gets when you connect with an audience through laughter. Armed with the knowledge that stand-up comedy can affect people and the way they think and feel meant that Ndumiso was ready to take the plunge and give the comedy world his best shot. His persistence and hard work finally paid off when he won a trip to London as part of The Red Bull, Comedy All Stars Comedy Challenge. Ndumisoís material is based on everyday life, the things that surround us, how we differ as people and how unique black people can be, especially the new generation.

Television viewers are already familiar with Dave Levinsohn's quirky, irrepressible humour from his Big Black Box ads, or possibly as the zany co-presenter in the first series of Going Nowhere Slowly. Often doing comedy to four people including the sound guy, he persevered and it certainly has paid off. On the comedy stage, Daveís material darts into more lateral territory, with his slightly-weird-guy-next-door approach...heís odd but not offensive. From the foibles of the South national sports teams, his anarchic re-examination of everyday topics has won him loads of fans as has his ability to improvise when interacting with the crowd. He has known his true vocation since his schooldays in Springs, where he spent twelve years as class clown and was voted Most Likely To Do Something Stupid.

Dave will take to the stage every night of the Comedy Festival, mostly to explain his jokes or to return some of the stuff heís stolen.

Stuart Taylor was the reigning SA National Comedy Magic Champion, a title that he held for three years. Suave sophisticated Stellenbosch graduate, Stuart started doing comedy to ensure that people, "laugh at my jokes and be mystified by my magic - and not the other way around!"

He has been performing stand-up comedy since 1999 and international performing credits include The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2003 and The Berlin International Comedy Festival 2004. Stuart is also the South African comedy link for the Lion Red Sports Cafť, a New Zealand sports show hosted by ex-All Black player Rick Selitso and Mark Ellis on SKY television.

In keeping with The Barnyard tradition, the Comedy Festival will be suitable for families. Tickets R95 (no Buy One Get One Free promotions). Bookings and enquiries on 031 566 3045, e-mail gateway@barnyardtheatre.co.za or visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za for more information.




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