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Comedy Festival Fringe

Fringe 2022: Schalk Bezuidenhout Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Few shows end with the suggestion of creating an audience-wide WhatsApp group chat. Even less, I’d imagine, leaving you thinking that this could possibly be a good idea. But this is the effect of Schalk Bezuidenhout, whose charismatic warmth and humour leaves you willing to extend your time in his company in whatever way possible.

Already a well-established voice on the South African Comedy circuit, Bezuidenhout returns to Edinburgh this year with his second Fringe show, after his successful debut in 2019. Impressively translating his comedic talents from his native Afrikaans to English, Bezuidenhout takes us on a whistle-stop comedy tour of his youth and childhood. With a stand-out talent for storytelling and parody, he transforms these relatively mundane anecdotes into hilarious tales, which are nicely bound together in the hour-long show.

Beginning with an animated retelling of his high-school long-distance running coaches favourite motivational story, Bezuidenhout examines the different inspirations which filtered into his childhood. From the absurdly nonsensical motivating chant created by his father to finding his hero in Elton John rather than Mike Tyson, he explores his childhood eccentricities with an entertaining honesty.

In one moment, he delights in roleplaying as a snobbish English private school kid, who took incredibly seriously the technicalities and regulations of a school chess tournament. Admitting that this match was perhaps destined to be the high point of his chess playing career, he dramatically re-enacts the incidentally devastating impact of his dad’s side-line chanting. Later, he explored with a cringe-inducing accuracy, his experience of becoming an adolescent boy at a point where the internet could only be accessed in 7-minute bursts, whilst sitting opposite the front door.

Amid these hilariously told incidents, Bezuidenhout leaves room for a more heartfelt comedy too. Touching on the impact of childhood bullying, he lets an extremely likeable tenderness seep into his comedic persona. This is evident in his interactions with the audience, where he lets out a comforting plea to the younger members of the audience to enjoy the stupidity, and silliness, that comes with being young. Mocking himself here, he includes a hilarious impersonation of the “cool kids” who ferried hookah smoke around the group’s circle through sloppy snogs – creating side-piercing laughter as he acted out, solo, the full chain of events. Meanwhile, whilst attempting to be “deep” in a superficial show of maturity, he acts out the hours of sitting around in groups, laboriously singing Stay Home in deep wispy lulls.

Schalk Bezuidenhout’s I’ll Make Laugh to You (Like You Want Me To) is hilarious, and well-worth getting to see now, whilst he’s still in front of a WhatsApp-able-sized crowd – because no doubt next year, we’ll all be fighting to get tickets.

Schalk Bezuidenhout is showing at Teviot Row House from August 24th-29th.

Image courtesy of Paul Samuels.