10 September 2018

Namibia: Big Mitch Lame On GBV, Hilarious On Everything Else

Following the success of 'Nama with a Wambo Attitude' and the 'Son of a Mitch' tour, Big Mitch brings us 'There's a Nama on My Stoep'.

Opening with an energising performance from local firecracker Adora Kisting flashing a hint of her own comedic chops, last Thursday's show began hot with Tapiwa Makaza hosting in sailor hat.

Coming for the award-winning comic's receding hairline, the depth of Nama pockets and how the show title sounds like the beginning of a break-in report, Makaza whet funny bones before apologising for the absence of the Twazis playing fast and loose with punctuality.

No matter (including the Twazis' end-of-the-evening walk off stage after technical difficulties) because the Warehouse Theatre's full house was there for the man of the hour.

Taking Free Your Mind's monthly stage in a grey suit toting a bottle of water, Big Mitch was a far cry from the unkempt, Hunters Gold promotion of last month's birthday show.

To begin, the comedian made a point of 'activating his Nama-ness' which required no less than the DJ cueing the sound of someone breaking a bottle.

Sending the audience into stitches and clearly ready to rock, Mitch eased into his set by assuring patrons that a Nama wearing a suit wasn't necessarily a groomsman or heading to his confirmation.

Praising the return of the genocide skulls from the 'Yermans' and irreverent in the idea that the sorting of the skulls into Nama and Herero was a simple matter of seeing which ones still have meat on them, Mitch segued from local news into the trials of borrowing money from a Damara.

From the incessant WhatsApp messages about hope and patience to being shamed when found eating in restaurants, Mitch had the crowd chortling at everything from being omitted from funeral arrangements and negotiating comedy fees during an economic crisis.

Shamelessly mining the stereotypes in a relatable, situational set, the comedian was at his best when digging into the personal.

Candid about his devastating, girlfriend-losing foray into gambling and hilarious when quipping about his child introducing him to friends as a comedian but "not like the guy on 'The Daily Show'" while accepting assistance from the child's iPhone-buying stepdad, Mitch presented as a comic coming into his own and feeling pretty good about it.

A point highlighted by the running joke-slash-reality of him officially being locally famous.

Which brings us to the problematic part of his show.

Recounting an instance in which he drunkenly met an inebriated super fan who flattered and conned him into giving her some of his beer, Mitch remarked that it made him want to "GBV her".

Using gender-based violence (GBV) as a minimising punchline in a country in the grips of a crisis with real victims, real murders and a real problem, Mitch's quip was lazy, gratuitous and mind-numbingly dumb.

Following this trash fire with jokes about needing drama in his relationships, asking "who wants to come home to a happy wife?" and losing the plot entirely in a crack about holding his significant other in a chokehold until she passes out and he makes an (apologetic?) dinner, Mitch seemed to forget that with fame comes influence.

Encouraging people to laugh at an account of a man and woman reporting a case of abuse at the police station and making light of GBV in general, Mitch soured what was a solid set with the indolent and irresponsible.

Though the crowd laughed, in a country where everyone of influence should be consistently and unequivocally condemning the prevalence of GBV in a bid to sway the thinking of their supporters and fans, his victory was pyrrhic and will see the comedian giggling on the wrong side of a history in which we solve the national GBV crisis and revere those who took a firm stand against it.

Idiotic and unnecessary notes in a solo show that won when alighting in France and the immigrant who won citizenship for saving a white child and better still when turning his gaze on men and underscoring the problem of their devastating lack of emotional support through comedy, it's clear Mitch could use his comedic powers for good, if so inclined.

Reminding us once, again and again that he is, in fact, famous.

The question Big Mitch needs to consider is what he wants to be famous for.

His hilariously relatable skits, characters and confessions, or the lame, throwaway, misogynistic GBV jokes his comedic rise would be better without?

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