Schalk Bezuidenhout @ Pleasance Courtyard
An assured debut reveals Schalk Bezuidenhout to be an interesting new voice in comedy
Schalk Bezuidenhout (no, it’s his first name you’re pronouncing wrong) is the eponymous South African White Boy of the show’s title. From the off, he revels in confronting the audience and their knowledge about race relations in his home country, asking the predominantly white crowd to practically spell out what happened during Apartheid. He probes the audience throughout, but this moment seems like an important marker for the kind of comedian Bezuidenhout could become.
In comparison, then, the rest of the show falls a little behind when it reverts to a more traditional debut Fringe hour; coming-of-age anecdotes which are nonetheless amusing. His gig at a South African Butlins is a highlight, alongside a disastrous marriage proposal he’s roped into. It’s told through an arch energy with Bezuidenhout affecting a high status, yet conversational tone which maintains audience engagement. This allows him to be particularly good at riffing off the audience, picking on an audience member who he’s clearly labelled as trouble and later, thinking he’s disgusted some older ladies in the crowd, playing on the French love for all things carnal.
Bezuidenhout’s strengths are clear but this first hour doesn’t use them enough to his advantage. In time, and perhaps a second or third hour, he may well be a top comedic contender able to utilise the danger he creates to devastating effect.
Schalk Bezuidenhout: South African White Boy, Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Three), until 26 Aug, 9.30pm, £7.50-£10.50