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Rob van Vuuren

Darling Lounges of Terror

2011-09-07 16:50
Picture this: I'm standing in the centre of a little lounge on 8th Avenue Asla in Darling doing comedy to a group of about 20 people who couldn’t be more varied if you cast them.

In the corner to my right is a white man in his 80s who clearly has some sort of breathing situation as there is a low rasping drone emanating from him that sounds suspiciously like his lungs are slowly collapsing throughout this 25 minute performance.

Next to him sits his terrified-looking wife and next to her is a young American tourist who likes to talk a lot. Across the room, a middle-aged Dutch woman who is filming and experiencing the entire performance via her cellphone display screen, is sandwiched between a painfully shy elderly coloured man (a Darling local) on the one side and a chunky 12 year-old Afrikaans boy who has taken the drive though to Darling with his folks from Melkbos Strand.

A young couple from KZN with their 3 year-old son squirming on their laps sits to my left near the front door and behind them two middle-aged black women from nearby Kwa-ttu peer out from behind a cupboard which partially obscures their view of proceedings from the couch that has been shoved into a corner of the room.


Now imagine that by the 26th minute this group will be picked up by a taxi or two that will shuttle them off to another house in Darling somewhere and a new group will shuffle in here to be entertained by me and so it will go.
No this isn't some performance anxiety induced nightmare, this really happened to me this weekend at the Voorkamerfest in Darling. Even though it was pretty much exactly as daunting as it sounds, I've got to say that it is undoubtedly one of the coolest festivals I've had the privilege of performing at.

The format presents a unique challenge for the performer, which I think, is especially tricky for a comedian. You very quickly realise that there is nothing that seems to tie this audience together.

The tone that you need to tap into to find the vibe of the crowd is elusive at best. This is no club gig. None of these people even knew what shows they were going to see when they hopped on their taxi. That's part of the surprise for them. And me.

The longest 25 minutes of my life

What I figured out after my first three shows (the first one was probably the longest 25 minutes of my life) is, that what unifies this audience is quite simply the physical parameters of the room itself. There is no escaping the fact that you are a bunch of very different people practically sitting on each other’s laps in this tiny little lounge waiting to be entertained. If you can't embrace that you're dead in the water.

I had to do 2 things; more or less double the pace of my delivery and completely surrender to what each audience presented. Once I got that right it was plain sailing. Even though it's pretty hard work (I did twelve twenty-five minute performances over 3 days) I have to say that it rates up there with some of the most fun I've ever had on a stage or in a lounge.  

To find out more about this fantastic annual festival and the philosophy behind it got to and     

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