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7 Things About South Africa Your Boss Wants To Know

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7 things about south africa

So your boss wants to know 7 things about South Africa, but is completely too afraid to ask.

And we’re talking relevant questions by the water-cooler in case he looks stupid or worse. Like bankruptcy, divorce and gout.

Don’t fret though, here’s a fantastic list of alternative facts about South Africa you can pass along to your employer in the form of an anonymous Post-It note sitting underneath his mouse. Keep Reading

Spaghetti bolognaise – The truth about business success with only one dish

in Life by

Once in a while to assess business success, the acumen side of my culture (Portuguese, that is) rages like a solar flare due to some discrepancy in the force, and I’m willing to bet that it harbours no one any mind, but it’s my anger and I can rage if I want to.

I arrived at work Monday and found our in-house deli came up with the following gold mine:

– Main meal: Bolognaise Sauce – R33
– Side: Spaghetti – R5

That’s right. I can order bolognaise sauce a paltry R33.

But, if I wish to make a spaghetti bolognaise meal, I would have to fork out an extra R5.

And let me tell you how I felt… Keep Reading

VIDEO – #ThatsFunny at the All Star Theatre, Brackenfell, November 2014

in Comedy by
nelson comedy comedian
The following video is a 10 minute stand up comedy special performed live in front of an audience at the All star Theatre in Bracknefell in November 2014.
I hated that suit.

Why I’m a Full Time Comedian…in my spare time.

in Comedy by
full time comedian

You get off stage, having pummeled the crowd with joke after joke that kills, that murders, that slays. Backstage, you wipe your brow as the other acts pat your back and praise you for that quick turn when the heckler almost threw you off-course from the journey of self-exploration you were taking the audience through.

This is your job, this is what you live for.

And that’s the vision I see most comedians that have pursued our line of work full-time experience many evenings as a full-time comedian.

Back at the farm, while the young comics emerging into the crowd open-mic circuit trying their luck to impress not just the crowd but the promoter in the hope they get a chance to return, some hardened comedians stand aside and watch as people below them begin to flower, while others above them live the life they dream, and I’m one of those.

I don’t pertain to be a veteran or a professional, but for someone that cannot go by a week without performing at least once in front of a crowd, it stopped being a hobby a long time ago. I remember the time I made the leap from hobbyist to proper comedian; I was heading back from a full night at a Laughing Horse gig in Temple, London, hosting a birthday party event where two guys brought dozens of friends and family each to watch. Not only did we perform our usual tricks, but we gave the birthday boys the credit they deserved by making their evening enjoyable. And when I got home, I received a text message from the showrunner: “Great job, mate, till next tme.” (deliberate misspelling).

And there and then, I realised, I can’t live without it.

But the reality of the situation is, I am not going to make it as a full-time stand-up comedian. Not at the moment. I’ve been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), which to many is a made-up term for someone that is just lazy; to me, it’s a reality where I cannot, for the life of me, focus on one particular thing. Where I procrastinate so heavily it makes my teeth ache that I haven’t written a script in 6 months, or haven’t created a painting in over 3 years.

That last one, that’s a hobby.

The disorder prevents me from really pushing forward in other areas designed to add value to my stand-up career; you don’t just get famous for your act, you accentuate your comedy career with other aspects that people working in the industry for real (promoters, bookers, agents) rally around you for, as in today’s age Youtube has more viewers than television, and you gotta bring the big bucks in.

So what happens to me? I’m still at it, plowing away. I can’t stop being a full-time comedian, I have to continue being someone’s opening act (one day) or constantly work hard to be part of the family of comics that work together. One comic still told me, “You have great ideas, Nelson, but I know you, you don’t follow through.”

And that’s why I’m at the office right now, waiting for a developer to finish his work before I can do my day-job, which sucks as it’s officially sanction overtime I volunteered for. And yes, it sucks to be me right now.

Still, it’s better than being a fish and chip shop owner.

Did my parents teach me anything?

in Life by
parents

I’m pretty ok with money a lot of the times. When you’re living by the seat of your pants every day your blood begins to boil at the sight of the petrol price rising up like cake flour, you tend to forget you have limited funds, and you venture off from the petrol station sulking that your idea of buying an iPad mini seems further and further away.

And then I thought, why didn’t my parents teach me how to be good with cash? I mean, they did, to constantly save for a rainy day. In London, that’s a silly notion to forget considering its island status, but the notion for never over-spending was drilled into me.

Forget that, I want to know how to invest.

We get bombarded every day with advertisements from investment companies drawling through quick marketing schpeels like, “Invest in a lump sum”, “fixed rate deposit”, “taxable income” or anything a bank marketing executive can *pop* out of his arse, but what happened to the good old days when you father could just say, “I know a guy, he’ll make you money”?

And my brain continued further, and then what came to me was a revelation in itself. Where did my parents teach me about relationships?

Good Lord, that’s when the world around me turned upside down. I never learnt a shred about relationships, not limited to girlfriends but with people in general. They’re so reclusive, they never really enjoyed me having friends but wished me to stay indoors, work in the corner shop or for any other stupid Portuguese shop owner. Sports was a no-no; why spend your time socialising in the playing field and keeping fit when there was R20 per day to be earned?

And as for girlfriends, I went through those like a fat kid let loose in a chocolate McFlurry store (no, there’s no such thing, but it’s the morning and my analogy machine is in the fritz), and the only role-models I could muster any example from was either from television, which timescaped so quickly I never realised you actually spent time in-between human interaction by doing other things, but my own parents’ ability to disassociate themselves from their own feelings and regard each other purely as “necessities”, the man bringing the bacon and the mother taking care of the house, but neither quite considering that their own emotional distance they imposed between each other filtered towards the children that required that same example in the first place.

And motivation, oh boy. To proceed towards a career you actually wanted? No, there’s no time for that, there’s money to be made, and a free economy full of sweets, chocolates and soft-drinks to exploit. I was never told that I am capable of anything, I was required to be something except a burden, and that was it. Get a job, work and pay rent, that’s it, nothing else, keep to the basics, make sure you have all those sorted and then everything else is a bonus until you become a burden to your health insurer. What do you mean, “Follow your dreams?” Dreams are when you sleep, reality is for feeding your face.

If it wasn’t for being influenced generally rather than specifically, in my case I was far removed from my family when I began comedy, I may perhaps have been convinced in a very hardened way to remain in South Africa for all of my life, to finish college and begin my life as a graphic designer, which I studied, instead of being lost in the ether and discovering an ability to influence people through teamwork, videogames and comedy. But I had to find that motivation, that opportunity, or else I would’ve lingered in creative purgatory.

I would’ve still liked my family and friends to have pushed me earlier.

It sounds like a cry for attention, but I’m looking at it positively and generously. If
you have kids, look at them and realise you can’t JUST feed and clothe them. You have to pay them attention, find the personality brewing inside them and lead by example. If you’re deranged, don’t show it and bring out the confidence, whether you have it or not. You brought them in, you owe it to them to show what they should be like, not just as spongers of a flawed societal system but of people that can contribute in better ways, through artistic, scientific or, at the very least, sociological advancements.

Who knows, you may have spawned the next Picasso. Don’t treat him like a janitor, he’s better than that and you know it.

Remember Me?

in Comedy/Life by
remember me
remember me

I don’t blog. I don’t. A lot.

I do not so in the vain attempt that I look at my blog, stare at the screen for a few minutes, then realise I’m 4 hours into my work day and I haven’t done a thing.

Today, I’m well aware I’m not done with my work, but I visited my blog and 15 people joined in to read.

Well, bully for me. Thank you.

So, as much time as I spend on Twitter, I should make adjustment for times when life hands me the opportunity to reach those 15 people and say, “Thank you.”

On other news, I’m ridiculously happier than I was a month and a half ago. But there’s still room for more. C’mon, Tony Robbins, make your pappy proud and helo me listen to your self-help claptrap.

Oh, and Armchair Sundays is going well. Come visit, we’ve got comedy and stuff. 🙂

9 things I do when I live alone

in Life by
when I live alone

Just discovered Lili Radloff’s “9 things you learn when you live alone“, a wonderful list of little things you do when you’re alone in your abode. I like it, it’s a wonderful piece featuring things she does which we relate to, etcetera, blah blah blah.

But my 9 things are a little different:

1. You tend to walk in after a long day at work, sit down in front of your desk, and realise…you have no internet. So you eat yoghurt and stare at the wall.
2. You switch off the geyser during the day because there’s no one there…and forget to switch it on in the morning after being awake for an hour watching your favourite TV show you enjoy to forget why you’re even there.
3. Your meals, that you make while naked, are increasingly simple and quick to make.
4. You forget to sleep on your own bed, with the couch increasingly convenient in front of the TV.

5. You knock on your neighbour’s door to ask for toilet paper, feeling awkward as you had to wait for them to stop shouting.
6. The sounds of birds, cars, trains and anything else becomes ambience towards your descent into insanity.
7. You’re scared of inviting friends over because you’re the one that’ll have to say, “Right, time for you guys to f*** off!”
8. After getting all the essentials you need, decorating seems to be as necessary as going to the gym…who are you REALLY doing it for?
9. You forget about point 8 and buy stupid things that don’t really fit, but individually you love looking at it.

Other things that didn’t make the list are:
– A bar fridge is fine for a while
– You feel something’s missing when you finish your last bottle of beer
– Half a bottle of cheap red plonk looks great next to the couch where you slept on the night before watching the latest Blockbuster you downloaded from your mom’s house
– Laundry is done in another person’s flat since they’re offering the service for R45 per load, and you feel no shame a stranger handles your skidmarks

What does my Dad dream?

in Life by

As I hear the dragon-esque screams from the aeroplane flying above the home of my two terribly incongruent but tremendously loving parents, lying on my mom’s bed as she’s recovering in hospital from nose surgery and my father in the next room tucked away in his own slumber, I feel a moment of sheer terror as I begin to imagine these dark and twisted thoughts that would be running through his mind as he lays there…a man haunted by death.

For some background, my father is 69 years-old, partially blind and a cancer patient. He fought off two previous scares, 5 heart attacks from defective pacemakers and a splosh of gout on his right leg, but don’t let that fool you.
My mom still makes him take the trash out.
But the disease has returned with some venom, and for the first time so far he’s had to take chemotherapy to stave off the growth that took root in his pancreas and lymphatic system, and finally reached its way into his lung.
Ok, you may think this piece seems somewhat bittersweet from a comedian and I’m sure you’re a little uneasy about reading such intimate details. Suppose it is then? What honour do I bring from laying out such morbid, and frankly quite personal, facts about a man you may not know? What point is there to revealing a factor of our mortality we usually cannot face so readily?
I want you to know this, not because I get a kick out of it…but that you are aware of my intent for what I say below.
Up until this point, this isn’t his first time on the rodeo. It’s already been a few years now that he has faced the threat of letting loose his mortal coil, and Dad has grown accustomed to waving goodnight at 9pm, shuffling off to his bedroom and closing the door to the family he produced.
From then on, I can’t even begin to think that it’s all fine and dandy.
I continue to imagine him getting ready for bed, cover himself with his blanket, turn on his right side like he used to when as a child I found him so, and as he closes his eyes and wishes himself a merry sleep, I descend further into my own version of his madness and poke at that large psychological wall we build around our psyche with signs all around saying, “Here lies your real purpose: to die.”
And what a horrible terror that must be.
With myself being 32, far younger and with hopeful prospects to outmatch his age, I couldn’t blame him if he was sobbing like a child every night, pleading with a whisper through the tears to spare this life for a while longer and only just to keep thinking about the days when he was younger, the antics he pulled and the lessons he learnt.
And then the dreams, for eventually every man so comfortable underneath a roof and surrounded by four walls, sleep will eventually take him and let loose a torrent of perpetual mind-f***s over which he has no control. Memories play like theatre in this world, a menagerie of characters, actors and influences. The loves, the wants, the regrets and the joys, the pain and loss, all scripts in movies he plays overnight like a crap television station.
Doesn’t he go mad?
Well if he does, he never shows it through his stable exterior, chatting to us about various subjects that don’t tax the brain, laughing at jokes and pointing out my ridiculous antics in front of my girlfriend purely just to hear her giggle. The ultimate joker.
He also embues a deep sense of pride in his independence, never asking for assistance standing up from the couch and washing the dishes after my mother’s cooked a meal like any decent husband would. I guess keeping a routine is therapeutic, giving him what little purpose he has left after his retirement from slaving away at odd jobs in private retail outlets for various Portuguese businessmen more successful than he ever was.
But the routine doesn’t end there.
He faces each day knowing there’s a check-up to be had, a bloodtest to be taken, a session of chemotherapy for 6 hours at a time. Walking with a cane is a sight I’d never thought I’d see from him, and he struggles with the rust-coloured inflammation on his aged calf. A few teeth have rotted and fallen out thanks to the harsh cancer treatment, he pricks himself on his finger to check his diabetes every day, and he scratches on the scar by his heart where a pacemaker regulates the heartbeat that keeps him with us everyday.
My father’s body is breaking down.
It’s also hard to ask him what he thinks about, let alone the dreams he has. He’s a gruff man of few words, tends to give opinions about politics and finances the same as any simple folk with simple needs may question, but digger deeper has never been his strength. And my own fear and mismanagement of confrontation cannot wring the truth out of a man who thinks that to be a man…you have to get married.
So I lay here, on my mother’s bed, dreaming his dreams. As I’m not a foremost expert in psychology, I’m sure it’s some disturbing practise I should probably speak to a psychiatrist about but, to theorise why I’m acting so, it’s like…I’m using my father to understand my own fear of death.
I’m terrified of dying, it’s not a fun subject for me. I wish to some mythical power everyday that I mystically can change the scenario so that I do have to die, keeping going on doing the same routine I live by everyday, continue to see women, joke with friends, get on stage and write a screenplay, countlessly and endlessly.
But there’s a flicker, a memory, that rebounds back into view…that this is finite. When this is over, there’s no more of me. My own consciousness will cease to function, and the limbo we…
…well, I’ve been to write something other than exist, or feel or experience, but I soon realised we have nothing to explain that state which is no state at all, that nothingness which is nothing at all.
But through seeing my dad, observing how he reacts to all of that fear, they’ve said in ages old that when “a man stares at Death and gets to know his face, he gets to know that face a little better,” and I hope he has that, that one triumphant grasp at respect he worked hard for and only somewhat retrieved. By showing me he accepts the danger that looms, forgets it’s ever there, and sits down to watch old Wrestling movies with me, I feel immense comfort knowing he’s still trying hard to be the man I once knew growing up. Not the man before with his many faults, the man that brought ME up that I know.
A man that held his tongue up over his front teeth while disciplining me as a way of scaring me.
A man that drove me to primary school after we’d opened the corner shop, cutting up the newspapers and stacking the fresh bread.
A man who taught me how to ride a bicycle.
So I sit here, writing this piece, letting you know that he taught me to do what you need to do, whatever you have to do, to be a man, not necessarily a good man, but a man. And never go out of this world without leaving a mark, like he’d never done. And so I do; each performer, writer, artist and producer all had deadlines. I’ve got my very own, and something will be done that will dazzle many people’s minds…before my own candle’s snuffed out.
And if I fail that, in the “immortal” words of the late Llyold Bridges from Hot Shots:

 

 

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