Ilham Rawoot
Ilham Rawoot

All good things, damnit, all good things

I have been deflowered. The days of wondering what it’s like and when my time will come, if I’m ready and whether I’ll be disappointed, are long gone. Now that my seven day fling with Grahamstown is over, it’s really just a matter of how long the romance will last, and whether I’ll be drawn back to it next year.

My Sunday night highlight was Jimeoin on Ice, a stand-up comedy show by Irishman Jimeoin McKeown, opened by Dave Levinson. For the first time in the festival’s history, comedy managed to get into one of the main arenas. These shows were the first I’d seen in a long time that didn’t rely on racial, cultural or country-based stereotypes to be funny. Levinson did do a bit of the small home town where everything is crap thing, but other than that, was quite refreshing. It took me a while to get into him, though, and to be honest, I did find myself only starting with the giggles when he began talking about being English in an Afrikaans town. Maybe I’m the one with the problem. Maybe I like racial and cultural stereotypes in humour and I don’t tell anyone. I remember finding Trevor Noah an absolute hoot at a recent show until another audience member told me how annoyed they were that in 2009 we were still using racial issues to be funny. I thought about it, and wasn’t and am still not sure how I feel. These things have to be funny. They have to, for our sanity. The fact that coloured people are expected to speak with a certain accent, that they have to explain how close they are to the original Coloured, is not actually cool. But right now, with unrelenting poverty and crime statistics, they have to be funny, else we’ll just have far too much on our plate. We can deal with them later.

But let’s get back to Jimeoin. I was at first sceptical, when I saw the size and diversity of the audience. I think that my sense of humour may be a bit leftfield, and I’m a bit suspect of funnymen who attempt to be all things to all people. But I think it may have worked. Jimeoin had the crowd in stitches with universal situations of annoyance. His facial expressions and brilliant timing made for spot-on delivery. He did go on a bit at times, and I may have drifted off a bit, but the audience loved him. He may not be the funniest comedian I’ve ever seen, but he’s definitely one of the most charming. It made me realise that the Grahamstown audience may be a bit easy, supporting the flirtatious and the popular. I thought that with the huge response to Rumpsteak, and the not so huge response to Thirteen Cents. I got a bit tired of Jimeoin, but I kept laughing, because the friend next to me did spend some money to accompany me, and I needed her to think it was worth every penny.

We followed this up with a drink at Pirates, a pizza and drinks joint that apparently sprung out of a project involving two varsity students selling pizza from their res room. Very rags to riches. It’s now a popular pre-party spot, where our ears were assaulted by two guys walking in and shouting with very constipated voices “I’m so horny” with more honesty than I was comfortable with. Here we stayed, and from here we headed to bed.

My last day was spent more in the media room frantically trying to please my editor, than out having fun, but here were the highlights: First up, lunch at the sweetest little restaurant in town. My friend calls it “the only civilised place to eat in this damn town”. This place is the French Quarter, with prices lower than one would assume. I got a brie and aubergine quiche for R30 and he pasta with tomato, olives and gorgonzola for R34. While the service is still a bit shaky, being a very new place, this detail is steamrolled over by the beautiful deli and sunny joy of the outdoor tables (when one is available).

I’m not sure I can call my last event an actual event seeing as I walked out after 25 minutes. Crime, by Johannesburg-based Savo Tufegdzic, is a movie about a woman who ties up one of the men who hijacked and raped her, after he comes back to her house. Her husband walks in on them, the attacker tied up, and his wife with the gun, not knowing the full story of what had happened to her when she had been hijacked. From here ensues a bloody painful mess of the attacker breaking loose and every South African’s nightmare takes place over the next hour and a half. I couldn’t do it. I was biting my nails, my stomach was beginning to burn and I knew that it wouldn’t be worth it. I am a softy. I left.

I guess in a way, my Grahamstown experience ended with some sort of a bang. And now, back home. I thought that by the end of my six days, I’d be over it, but I think I only really started getting into the festival towards the end, and was bummed to leave. I think the trick is to come about three to four days after the festival has started instead of the night before the opening. Oh well, till next year. For now, it’s just me and my post-deflowerment blues — that attachment you thought you could avoid but comes nonetheless.