SA comedians unhappy with Joost joke

2012-02-16 10:18
Marelize Potgieter
Cape Town - Some South African comedians think one should think twice before mocking a national hero who suffers from a debilitating illness.

A huge debate erupted on Wednesday after Die Burger reported on comedian Pierre Breytenbach who mocked Joost van der Westhuizen's motor neuron disease (MNS). Breytenbach mocked Van der Westehuizen on the kykNET programme Skerp.

"Sometimes something is just too black too joke about," comedian Margit Meyer-Rödenbeck, or rather Dowwe Dolla, said.

"The moment you joke about sickness or death, you trip yourself up. The nation's sympathy lies with Joost and his illness."


She referred to her show 007 in which she portrayed the breakdown of Van der Westhuizen and Amor Vittone's marriage. She removed this part from her show when Van der Westhuizen was diagnosed with the disease.

"It's hard with people like Joost, Steve and Riaan Cruywagen. They are public figures.

"One must also keep in mind that comedy is supposed to drive limits even further, and they (the audience) are not there so you can stroke their heads."

She has heard British comedian John Cleese say it is very ironic that people find the things that are complained about the most, the funniest.

She said she doesn't judge Breytenbach, but might not have gone as far as he did.


Comedian Kagiso Lediga said his main goal is to make people laugh. "If they don't laugh, you have failed."

Although he has nothing against blasphemy in his performances, he described Breytenbach's joke as tastelesss. "There aren't supposed to be sacred cows. But it is important to take the atmosphere of an event into consideration."

He said one is successful when the audience laughs - even if you make a joke that may be considered in bad taste.

But it requires sensitivity to the audience and atmosphere.

Stuart Taylor said he thinks a person exceeds the limit when you mock someone's illness.

"You must keep in mind, though, that Joost exposed himself quite a lot."


  • Deirdre - 2012-02-16 10:42

    But what jokes about Michael Jackson and his plasticity, or even the Whitney jokes that are abounding ... is it because he is a "national" hero that makes him a sacred cow?

      GrootWitHaai - 2012-02-16 11:43

      Joost was his worst bad press. He fiddled with a prostitute and he lied to the nation.....he's made his bed and now he must lie in it. It's not like he's an example to youngsters that would want to emulate him one day. South Africans just don't have a very good instinct for irony.

      Bob - 2012-02-16 11:59

      You pair have lost the plot, the point is Joost's illness should not in my opinion be a laughing matter, Jackson and Houston are a completely different case, the one mutilated his face with surgery and the other was a whackhead on drugs, they leave themselves open to jokes and abuse.

      Fred - 2012-02-16 16:03

      @Surf City Exactly - Joost, like the other religious folk hero Hansie, proved to be a lying, cheating, hypocrite of the first order. So he has a terminal illness. So do we all.

  • cobus123456 - 2012-02-16 11:03

    What national hero. He played a sport, there is much better national heros than sport players.

      Michael - 2012-02-16 11:15

      Name one

      Michael - 2012-02-16 11:18

      He is a world cup winner with the 95WC. He and his team have done more for SA than the likes of YOU!

      Jason - 2012-02-16 12:27

      Yeah Cobus, name one! And don't say Madiba, that's been done and dusted. I feel for Joost having to go through what he is going through, but i also believe we are way too sensitive.

      FlowingRivers - 2012-02-16 12:46


  • Bennie - 2012-02-16 11:08

    Joost is a joke.... so why all the protests? "The nation's sympathy lies with Joost and his illness." Don't speak on behalf of a NATION! Dowwe Dolla is a joke... grow up!

  • Omrisho - 2012-02-16 11:26

    the two funniest things in this report are the "national hero" and he "exposed himself to a lot" bits - rofl

  • Omrisho - 2012-02-16 12:38

    agg please... i am sorry for the man that his health is not 100% but to manage to have video footage all over the internet of yourself snorting coke off a hooker's breasts and jacking off you gotta be a first class moron

  • John - 2012-02-16 14:27

    Ever laughed at someone who tripped and fell??? I have. We've always seen the lighter side of someone elses misfortunes...

  • Dustin - 2012-02-17 10:42

    No matter what he did with his life making fun of someones decease isn't funny. Most people wont find it funny if people made jokes about there family members having cancer on any other decease.

  • Cheryl - 2012-02-28 09:14

    For Heaven's sake give Joost a break. So he made a big mistake, but reading between the lines, Amor is not squeaky clean. He's a dying man. Let him live his his remaining life in peace, and at least allow him to spend time with his children and have the best medical care and doctors available. In my opinion he's paying the ultimate price. Who are we to judge. Thankfully, that great responsibility rests with our Lord.

  • Louise - 2012-03-01 15:58

    I don't know what the big fuss is about. For years people have been making jokes about Alzheimers. Nobody batted an eyelid then. What is the difference?

  • Martinette - 2012-03-03 09:15

    Ja, nou kla almal oor die grap van Pierre, en dat Joost 'n publieke figuur is MAAR as daar grappe gemaak word oor mense met gestremdhede word niks oor gesê nie. Nee,dit wil voorkom dat bekende figure uit gelos moet word en "de hel" met die res. Dieselfde geld oor die grappies van mense met Altzheimer of Parkinsons. Los hulle ook dan uit. Word groot !!!!!!!!!

      Martinette - 2012-03-03 13:06


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