Tag Archives: humor

Cold-Cocking As A Means of Progress (A Call To Arms)

14 Jul

The annual exodus from Grahamstown is in full swing as I sit down to write this. Those returning from performing or watching new (Fresh! Vibrant! Yay us!) theatre at The National Arts Festival are flooding the internet with Facebook updates and Tweets about the genius work they saw, the best of times they had, the glory of our unified nation and the general nonsense that comes with that sort of back-slapping, artsy-fartsy, communal experience. People are vomiting sayings like, “It changed my life,” and “It reminded me of how great our country and our theater has become.” The offence these people commit are not that they believe what they say, but that they say it so freely. Innocent as it may be to openly volunteer inane enthusiasm for what is clearly not as glorious as the bouncy, wide-eyed idiots would want you to believe, it is endemic of a larger problem that faces our fragile little artistic community: the ruling class of this community are so used to saying whatever comes into their sub-fame contaminated minds that the idea of anyone telling them to shut up will be tantamount to a serf’s betrayal of a royal’s trust in times long forgotten (by general society.)

Allow me to offer an example that may clarify my rant: there is an old actor who lives in Cape Town and remains a fixture on the stage and on television. He is a respected, beloved old codger who carries with him the aura and grace of a theater sage; he has seen it all; he knows all the angles; his public adores him. He believes, I assume, he has earned the right to say whatever he wants. I was acting alongside him in a play and one evening I found myself smoking a cigarette while waiting to go onto stage. Smoking with me was a young actress of immense talent who should command respect from her co-actors (and does, for the most part.) The elderly actor “God” walked outside to continue his voice exercises. He nodded to us, looked my friend up and down and said, “If you stopped smoking, your tits would grow back.” I stood mouth agape, not knowing what to say. My friend was so embarrassed that it affected her performance and the comment certainly didn’t stop her from smoking. A few years earlier this “Christ-on-a-Cross” of the stage was acting alongside another friend of mine, and just before the two took to the stage, the old fucker turned to my friend (another very talented person. I know, I know, I’m so lucky…) and said, “My boy, you should be in musicals. You have no place in serious theater.” He said that. Just before the lights went up. And… nothing… happened. Both those stories are well known in the Cape Town theater industry and there are many more incidents attributed to this man. What enrages is me is that nothing happens when he says these awful things.

Shift your imagination, for a moment if you will, to an office environment or any working environment that isn’t inhabited by ineffectual artistic types. Let the aforementioned incidents play out within those environments and try to imagine some sort of violent act not being committed in response. You can’t, can you? Sure, you can say stupid shit to whomever you want, that is everyone’s inalienable right. God bless free, offensive speech. But there has to be an expected reaction. Generally, a well placed “Go fuck yourself” can ease all ills, but what if you inhabit a world where no one dares to say that? Where acceptance of severe insults (to your person or by means of lame artistic endeavors) is met with nothing more than a wide-eyed stare, a contemplative gaze into the abyss and perhaps a drunken rant to those who will listen, but not spread, your pain? What then? Could there be a way out of this? A path to enlightenment?

Yes. Punch the cocksucker in the face. He might think twice about opening his trap around you ever again.

We cannot function in a sub-genre society that is seemingly dedicated to artistic freedom and the right to voice opinions, but refuses to accept that a public rebuke to any statement, by a person or stated within a work of art, forms part of what makes an open-minded community work. My argument is not against the dumb-as-shit, talentless old fart who offended my friends with his words; my argument is against me and those of my ilk who did nothing to make him think about whether he should offend us or not. There are no consequences to what people say within the artistic community. The answer is not censorship, but debate. However, before a debate can begin, the revolution must be jump started by extreme acts that might cause debate to be a more acceptable consequence. The violent French Revolution was the reason the British revolution was a peaceful transition from monarchy rule to some sort of democratic republic (Dig that comparison, motherfuckers!)

This brings me back to the people returning from Grahamstown. Of course they are allowed to say whatever they want, but they must accept that there will be those who openly doubt their blind devotion to a festival that has done more damage than good in the world of theater. This is not negativity, but merely a refusal to see it your way. You don’t have to shut-up, but I will tell you to shut-up. That is my right. And if you feel offended, we can have a debate.

If you refuse to debate any form of artistic expression, or if you think your opinion is above any sort of debate, then you deserve to get punched in the face.

If your ego is driving your work and public persona, then you should get punched in the face.

If you think your work and opinion is a revolutionary act (and you’re not an armed, with weapons or intellect, revolutionary) then you should get punched in the face.

If you abuse those beneath you or those who are following in your footsteps, then you should get punched in the face.

If you use race or racism to excuse your shoddy work, you should get punched in the face.

And, fuck-it, I will say it: If you do anything half-arsed and promote it as being important, then you deserve to get punched in the face. (That goes for you Janice Honeyman, Pieter Toerien, Malcolm Purkey, Bobby Heaney, anyone who misdirects Maynardville and those who fuck things up for the rest of us.)

PS. Anyone who disagrees with what I’ve said, can debate me. If I don’t want to debate you, you can punch me in the face.

We need more rumble in this jungle.

Why “The Muppets” Should Go On A Raping Spree

16 Apr

I have worked, on and off, in children’s television for ten years. I qualify that with “on and off” in order to keep the shred of dignity I need to wake up in the morning. South African Kids TV is used, by some, as an entry into the broadcasting world and most manage to leave it behind within their first two years in the industry. Some, however, remain stuck in this swamp of mediocrity, populated by misanthropes, fuck-ups, amateur politicians and teenage presenters who one wishes would be targeted by vicious molesters or Am-Way salespeople. There are a few dedicated producers, directors and writers who struggle everyday to lift the genre into the realm of non-offensive, harmless entertainment, but they are thwarted by the broadcasters who sit in their offices over-looking the Johannesburg sky-line, masturbating furiously as they listen, obey and service sexually the unions and government lackeys ruling the industry.

Children’s TV is budgeted as low as educational TV (both are budgeted as if they actually were in the educational department), but is policed more heavily than any other department in the broadcaster’s line-up. “We’re doing it for the kids,” they say, “We need to protect them.” Protecting the kids apparently means giving them sub-standard programming about inane subjects while educating them to be exactly what the higher-ups think they should be. A bit like Outcome Based Edutainment brought to your child by commissioning editors who are equally afraid of progress as they are of their bosses, channel heads who preach government sanctioned propaganda and production companies looking to make a quick buck. Atop all of this sits the mighty broadcaster: a large, drooling, malfunctioning monster sucking up cash and thinking of new ways to convince the South African viewer that they are as stupid as they’re being treated.

The primary culprit in this pig-fuck of a situation is, of course, the SABC; that most disastrous of public broadcasters that has, since its inception, been a slave to whatever power hungry mongrel calls itself the master. This dysfunctional organization loses money every year due to corruption, incompetency, bad management, loss of advertisers and a line-up that consists of soap-operas (no argument from me if you like them, they are there to be liked) and a menagerie-like mix of slanted news and harmful “entertainment.” The middle management of the SABC is made up of television-illiterate scaredy cats and chicken shits that are placed there to halt any progressive idea to come from an individual or company with the willingness to make good television. This attitude filters down to the lowly worker bees that walk around with permanent scowls that can only be achieved by the knowledge that one has made a life-numbing mistake. This affects the work, as one can see when viewing any three of the SABC channels at any given time. But it’s especially true for Kids TV.

A few years ago I attended a Children’s Television Content Hub Conference (ooh!) which contained two telling moments that should sum up the approach the SABC takes when deciding on programming and the people who sit behind the approach. We (all downtrodden producers and directors with born-to-lose tattooed on our foreheads) sat in a cavernous auditorium and were shown an immensely depressing documentary about two orphans taking care of each other in a Chinese metropolis. The youngest orphan was three and his older sister was nine and the documentary followed these kids through one day of getting ready for school, preparing food and survival against all odds. As we sat there, teary eyed and depressed, we were then lectured to make South African Kids TV more like this slice of fuck-me-why-life. The higher-ups missed the point of the documentary and thought of it as an uplifting, communist wet dream of self-sufficiency, instead of a heartbreaking expose of children being left behind in a crumbling society. I looked around the room to see if anyone else was pissing their pants out of frustration like I was, but I was surprised to see people nodding in agreement and taking notes as if someone just pitched “The Sopranos” to HBO. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a moron who thinks that kids TV should be a happy, safe place to lose one’s self in.

The second moment occurred when we were taking a drinks break. While we were shoving Tennis biscuits down our throats and swallowing it with lukewarm Oros, I overheard a colleague of mine talking to one of the heads of the Content Hub. This “decked out with Truworths Man gear” little political animal was talking about taking the SABC into the future. When my colleague asked this gargoyle about his favorite TV show, the man said, “I don’t watch television. I don’t allow televisions in my house.”

This man, this officious little prick, is one of the people who decide what gets shown on South African television. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should get DSTV so that your kids can watch Looney Tunes.

A Perceval McGiggins Mystery: Case #104

16 Mar

I sat in my barely furnished office, waiting for the day to approach. I hadn’t slept in two days. Two days. Jesus. Well, not counting the four hours I fell asleep while watching a “Mythbusters” marathon. But besides from that, two days. Two days. Technically. Also, I take a half hour nap after each wank. Up to three a day now. Good for you, goddamnit, I tell myself. So, in essence I hadn’t slept for two days. Felt like it, anyway. Maybe a day. Point is: I was tired. I was tired of waiting for the case that would make me a big time player. I stared out of my office window and saw the sun ascend towards the heavens. I didn’t notice her entering my office. Which was strange, because the door was right next to the window I was staring through. She moved so quietly. Like a cat. Or a panther. Or a very well trained super ninja. I removed my ear muffs and regarded her closely.

She had shapely legs that seemed to go on for hours. Perhaps 45 minutes, if I was being unkind. Her hips swayed to a supernatural rhythm, which was odd, because she was already sitting down in my favorite camping chair. Her breasts were nothing short of marvelous, and they were highly functional because they attracted attention away from her lack of collar bones. Her face was okay. I decided that staring at her for a half hour was enough and might be considered rude for someone not in the habit of being ogled by a hard boiled egg… uh, detective.

“Can I help you?” I snarled.
“Are you Perceval McGiggins, the famous detective?” she whispered in a voice laced with sex and cough medicine.
“I am not. He was my father.”
“Are you his son?”
“Not related, sorry.”
“I need a detective”
“My father is dead.”
“May I speak to him?”
“Do you always answer a question with a question?”
“I didn’t…”

I cut her off with a wave of my hand. I conjured up a smile from my bowels and looked into her eyes, which I hadn’t been doing, since I was staring at her gumboots. I told her I would take the case.

“The case?”
“That’s right. The case.”
“I haven’t told you…”
“I have a nose for these things.” I did also have an ear, throat and spleen for such things, but I failed to mention it. I must remember to mention it, I told myself in my staccato mind voice.

“Four rand a day… minus expenses” I said in a tone that I would later recognize as something I forgot as soon as I recognized it.

“Mr. McGiggins…
“Mr. McGiggins was my father” I shouted, “You can call me Perceval McGiggins.”
“Perceval McGiggins…”
“Mister. Please. I don’t know you; you don’t know me, lady.”
“Mr. McGiggins, can you handle a case of such magnitude?”

I gave a confident nod, even though I didn’t understand what magnitude meant. I wondered if it had something to do with the case. Magnets? Magneto? X-men? XXX? Pornography?

I felt myself getting hard and sleepy at the same time. I assured the lady I would take care of her case. She said something about “explaining” but I was too busy playing with myself through my pocket to notice. She left in a huff, and I knew I hit a nerve.

Strange thing is, I never saw her again. Did the evil that exists out in the world, the evil she asked me to investigate, finally catch up with her? Perhaps I would never know. But I will investigate. I will always investigate…

For that is what I do.

The Best Little Whore in Cape Town… (is not an actor)

14 Mar

The empty bar in the glowing theatre lobby wakes up at 7pm. With a refreshing yawn she prepares herself to be entered by those that matter. The bar knows she is a whore, but takes solitude in the fact that she is a respected, beloved, well-taken-care-of whore. She is the first to be fucked and those who penetrate her feel comforted by her non-judgemental embraces and tender acts of mercy. She is also the last to be fucked. Her clients wash themselves clean of what they had just experienced and run back to her as she greets them with open arms. She sympathizes with their pain. The mixed look of fear and exhilaration she sees in her clients’ eyes reassures her that she will be the bottom bitch for years to come. She is the main attraction, the real introduction. She lives for opening night. For this is the night when the fat, wealthy, important clients arrive and seek her comfort. It is not the respectable, but modest, second night clients, whom she adores, but ushers through at a hurried pace, nor is it the duration of the spectacle when she is entered night after night by the simians who are paid to perform and whose antics inspire others, as well as themselves, to visit this comforting whore; either out of sheer disappointment or occasionally, a delight in watching (or being) exceptionally talented performing monkeys. This is the opening night. The grand first march of the campaign. The assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand. The bombing of Pearl Harbour. The eloping of Paris and Helen. This is the big one, the first train to Fat City, the breaking of the levees. And Madam Whore, the savior of most, the damnation of some, is ready for it. She whispers, “Let the fucking commence.”

Her minions dolly her up. She knows she needs to be pretty for this crowd, for they will feel the need to judge her as well. She smiles knowingly. They need her. They need what she has. But she plays along. Give the client what he or she wants. Make them think they are in charge.

The first people arrive. They stagger into the lobby with a wild look and whisper angrily that they knew they were too early. They showed their hand and their eagerness augments them immediately; they will judge harshly this piece of entertainment they are about to witness. The discomfort passes as soon as they see our heroine, the whore, and partake in her services. They sip unlabeled wine, slowly calming down and coming to terms that they are just as important as the rest who will arrive soon. The joint heats up as more royalty arrive. “Oh, I’m on the list. I’ve been invited,” says a faux-modest voice that inhabits an industry type, dressed in expensive clothes that makes the wearer believe that he or she is passing as a fully-formed human being. The false back and forth continues as more guests slither in. “I think I’m on the list.” “I’ve been invited.” “I’ve been comped… I think”. The whore smiles. They’ve all been invited, they’re all on the list. And they all know it.

The Johns and Janes dive into our heroine’s on-display fruits. The first round of pleasure is on her. She gives them just enough to prop them up for the show, to keep them awake and wanting more, drooling for the next taste of her loins. For when they pay, they know (or hope) it will be sweeter than the teasing lick they received for free.

The doors to the theater open and a very insignificant person waves the theatergoers into the black chasm of the auditorium. With uncertain shuffles, the patrons enter the abyss looking around wearily as if they expect an unclean, frothing at the mouth actor to jump from the blackness and take a bite out of their decorated arses. The doors close and the whore gives the “ready-to-be-disappointed” audience a wave and blows them a kiss, knowing that they miss her already.

As time passes, the whore finds delight in the sounds coming from the auditorium. The coughs, giggles, groans, shifting seats, cell phone ringtones and, of course, the muffled dialogue of the puppets made from meat, hope, longing and (for the after taste) disappointment. Picking herself up from the comfort of emptiness, our beloved lady of the night stands ready as she anticipates the obligatory applause and the rush of warm bodies ready to release themselves into her womb.

She lets out a whisper, “Here they come.”

A veritable orgy commences. Thirsty souls drink from her breast and finger her fine oak corners. Wrapping their moist hands around her goods and gulping down her milk greedily, they now await the emergence of the director and the actors, but for that they need lubricant, and Mother Whore obliges. The director comes out first and is met with applause and an offer of the whore’s tit. He/She takes a big sip and everyone seems pleased. The actors wait their turn and their patience is awarded with a lick and a suck from our heroine, who gives a lascivious smile with a wet, dripping mouth and an eager, gaping chasm between her legs into which she invites all those who dared to leave the comfort of their lives and enter into a deal to be bored stiff.

They’re all fucking now. Left and right. Up and down. Handjobs, blowjobs, ass-fucks, snow-balls, fistings, muff-dives, brown noses, sixty-nines, toe licking and the ever present “orgasm by compliment”:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You did a great job.

PRACTITIONER:  You were a great audience.

The Best Little Whore in Cape Town listens, and gives a bit of a groan, as everyone comes over one another. She knows her job is done. Like the best therapist in the world, she has made it possible for these people to relax by doing to her what they would like to do to each other, so that they can, in the end, do it to each other. Good job, old girl.

As her minions wipe her clean and put her to bed, the well fucked, satisfied whore closes her eyes and awaits the world of tomorrow. For, in essence, it will be the same as today. And that’s why she loves South African theater.

I did a blog on your theater face

14 Mar

Upon viewing the schedules for various theaters in Cape Town, and the line-up of the plays that are to be performed in Grahamstown, an immense boil formed on my neck and exploded bile and puss all over the lobby I was standing in. Doubled over and screaming in pain, I was comforted by a friend who kindly informed me that things are as they always were. The plays, for the most part, are the “same old thing” done by the “same old folks”. My friend said, “This is the way it works, and you should know this by now.” As I looked over the schedule again, I expected to calm down and accept South African theater for what it is, which is, mostly, a parade made up entirely of self righteous, unintelligible, smelling to a moral high heaven turd factory. This is the carnival of lies; the holocaust of ideas; the shit and piss that passes itself off as art (which is what theater should be. Entertaining, yes, but art nonetheless.) As I pulled myself out of my admittedly sour grapes state of mind, I realized that these shows, these plays, these lies, are what people enjoy. They enjoy making it, they enjoy seeing it, and then, like a soap opera plotline, it is forgotten. Because who wants to dwell on it? It’s just entertainment. Why must we expect anything else?

The truth is we suffer from low expectations and the comfort that comes with it. Knowing exactly what you’re getting removes the risk of being offended or displeased. It also removes any chance of gaining some insight into one’s self or provoking a change in thought, or even a worthy discussion about the nature of what you and those around you just experienced. A choice between the risk and the joy of the adventure should be made by anyone of reasonable intelligence.

The excuse given by practitioners of “the same old thing” is always money. The assumption is when people pay for entertainment they want to experience the expected. “Give the audience what they want,” they say. If a formula has always worked, why screw the pooch and fuck with what works? Why fix what ain’t broke? Isn’t that the same attitude that has stood in the way of intellectual progress for man’s entire history? As soon as progression rears its head, the guards of old inform us that what we have works, and should not be altered. Could the same argument be made for “art as entertainment”? If audiences were given the option of when and how art/entertainment should progress, we’d still be watching bear baiting and cheering at royalty and clergymen as if they were gods. (That still happens, I know. Bad example, but fuck it. It’s medieval.)

The goal of the artist should never be to give the audience what they want. Art (or even art-as-entertainment) should exceed expectations, and if expectations are met and not surpassed, nothing has been created. Hunger is sated by any kind of food, be it junk food or a meal prepared at home. However, a meal that’s worthy of discussion always involves overcoming expectations and being transported into the different realms of taste and flavour. If one gets exactly what one expects, then there is no surprise, no journey towards a discovery; no adventure.

The question is: Is there still an allowance for intellectually progressive theater in South Africa? Can we, as an audience, get behind something that makes us uncomfortable (i.e. think)? Can we rejoice at something which speaks to a nature within ourselves that we have ignored or didn’t know existed in the first place? And I speak not of Theater of Guilt (whether it’s guilt evoked, preyed upon, or relieved); I speak of theater having the plain, hairy, fuck-off balls to rely on our ability to have a response separate from emotion or the appearance of emotion. Can we find a thrill in watching something that speaks to us as adults and not mentally retarded children?

Don’t placate me, don’t provoke my base emotions, don’t perpetrate a lie, don’t exaggerate a truth, don’t tell me what you expect me to know and then pass it off as a lesson. I will not be taught by second rate con men who make their living by wagging a finger or invite me to agree with them. I will not be held at a beachhead by theater practitioners indistinguishable from so-called keepers of the moral code. Fuck off and die, for you no longer have the ability to argue a point. You are argued out. You are empty. Devoid of anything that truly matters.

If there is disagreement with what is uttered here, argue the point. Attempt a conversion for us non-believers, but forget the dogma. It only works on the faithful. The rest of us need proof of something tangible. Intelligence will trump blind belief. That’s your fault, not ours.

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