Bruce Dennill
3 minute read
3 Apr 2014
10:00 am

Comedy duo tries and tries again

Bruce Dennill

Robert Fridjhon and Alan Committie are regular collaborators, often seen either throwing objects at each other or diving out of the way to avoid being hit by said objects in the various farces in which they've co-starred.

Comedians and actors Alan Committie and Robert Fridjohn share a joke between performances of A Load Of Bull. Pictures: Supplied.

Their latest project is called A Load Of Bull: The Woman’s Guide To Rugby, which is a collection of skits, improv and allegedly useful tips for audiences who don’t understand the joys of a game in which you run forward and pass backward.

“It’s a bit about rugby,” Fridjhon says, “and a lot about bull. It’s a gas; good fun. It came about when Alan Committie and I were doing our farces together and we would notice, on a Saturday afternoon particularly, that there would be blokes sitting there in their rugby jerseys, arms crossed and frowning at us – really angry that their wives had booked theatre tickets without telling them and ruined their plans for a braai and the game.

“So we thought it would be a really good idea to do a show about rugby, but to make it a women’s guide to rugby, so that it would appeal to both genders. The premise is that rugby is life and vice versa, so it’s not just about the game. It’s about what happens around the game when people watch it at home or in pubs or in the stadiums. It’s about people standing around and talking and putting the world to rights.”

Rugby and theatres are not regular bedfellows – about as close to opposite ends of the “things I want to do on a Saturday” scale. Is it important, though, to expand the reach of the former into the realm of the latter? Especially given that both Fridjhon and Committie write for theatre, and increasing their potential for new work is always important…

“I think so,” says Fridjhon.

“We engage with the audience a lot. There’s a huge question and answer section where we encourage them to test us.”

“That question probably gives us too much credit, to be honest,” says Committie.

“We want to reach both groups of fans. We’re going to be silly. We have all sorts of angles. Essentially the show is all about rugby without being about rugby at all. It’s a kind of live chat show.”

“We know people are missing their sport to be there, so we phone Neil Andrews from Supersport during the show to get live updates,” says Fridjhon.

“We want people to feel there is enough structure in the show that they feel safe with us, but also comfortable enough to give us leeway to go wherever that action takes us,” says Committie.

“So for instance, there was a woman at a recent performance who told us about her niece, who had accompanied her to Ellis Park the day before. We ended up phoning her niece in the show and having an extended conversation with her.”

What measures are in place to ensure that all the sponteneity doesn’t lead to something less than entertaining? One audience member may be less interesting than the next, after all.

“True,” admits Committie.

“We have a set beginning and end to each half of the show, so we – and the audience – will know that there will be a certain climactic experience. That structure holds everything together, but the audience participation takes us in new directions.”

“I’m also glad that I haven’t broken or pulled anything yet, which is always the case with the farces,” says Fridjhon.

“It’s a relief to be relying on wit and conversation rather than the physical stuff.”

“The venue plays a role there,” chuckles Committie.

“The dressing room is so small that a lot of the physical stuff is just me and Rob trying to get past each other on the way to the stage.”

Touch, pause and engage?

“No hands in the ruck!” yells Fridjhon.