Tumi Morake: Herstory

I heard this South African comedian on Fred Macaulay’s BBC radio show one morning and, on the strength of that 3 minute slot, decided to go and watch the full show. It was an absolute hoot, I literally cried with laughter the whole way through.

She has such an infectious giggle that you just can’t help joining in with her and once you start you can’t stop. I’d taken my two daughters along with me and they absolutely loved her too. We sat in the front row and, with a small audience, we all felt intimately involved – as if we were having a hilarious night out with a really funny pal.

Tumi is big in South Africa, playing in big venues to big audiences, here she is a complete unknown and, despite a couple of great reviews, she is struggling to bring in the crowds. That’s a shame because she really is worth seeing. She is heavily pregnant and is a big lady in both size and personality which she uses to good effect, poking fun at herself and her voluptuous body. The title of her show is Herstory and her material is interwoven with comical insights into her upbringing and life in South Africa but, for all the differences in culture and geography, she covers universal themes we can all relate to – love, life, sex and family.

I loved her take on mamby pamby western style child discipline and the good old no nonsense African approach – in Africa a child is dumb, here it has ADD or even the High Definition version ADHD. The piece on how she gave up on religion is superb – the priest wouldn’t give her change back when she only had a rand to put in the collection box. It still rankles “Jesus owes me 50c”. On being asked to donate money for starving African children on the flight over -why can’t her kids get some? The jokes come thick and fast and we hardly have time to draw a breath.

Tumi Morake – remember the name, hopefully she will come back next year and get the recognition she deserves.

Irene Brownlee