With his tousled curly locks, pencil thin moustache and stripy socks, Schalk Bezuidenhout or ‘Schalkie’ to girls in the friend-zone, presents as a wacky, guy-next-door figure.
This up-and-coming South African comedian focuses his show on his experiences growing up in South Africa, attending a private Afrikaaner school, including correcting his English teacher who couldn’t actually speak English, and his developing career as a comic, which has taken him from providing pool-side entertainment at the South African equivalent of Butlins, to playing venues such as London’s Apollo.
The room takes a long time to warm up and initially it all feels somewhat disjointed. One gets the feeling it’s a long time since Bezuidenhout played such a small crowd. A few allusions to apartheid and the differences between white South Africans and Afrikaaners probably don’t evoke the belly laughs that they might back home and Bezuidenhout uses a cultural reference which is lost on the audience, apologising because he’s just off the plane and hasn’t had a chance to make up any Scottish jokes.
The riffing is competent. Bezuidenhout can obviously work a crowd and eventually builds a good rapport. It’s a real shame that by the time the room has warmed up, that this short show is almost over. One last story about his assistance in a bizarre marriage proposal is quite effective and ends the set on a stronger note than its beginning.
Bezuidenhout has some good material amongst other jokes which need a little tweaking. And whilst the laughs aren’t constant he will make you smile in an enjoyable and illuminating 40 minutes.