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Still playing the Race Card

Following a successful national tour last year, comedian Siv Ngesi brings Race Card back to Cape Town's Baxter Theatre for a limited run. We spoke to him to find out more.
Still playing the Race Card

Eugene Yiga: What drew you to the book that Race Card is based on?

Siv Ngesi: I loved the honesty and pure bluntness of the book. It reminded me of my fearless style and outlook on stage and life. There is nothing worse than someone tiptoeing around a subject.

And why do you think the book has done so well?

The truth of the things in it. The best comedy is the one that people can relate to. Truth is the easiest way to a laugh. Another thing about the book is that each race group is made fun of equally and no rock is left unturned. I think every South African should have a copy and it makes a great Christmas gift to family overseas. It's on sale at all book stores and after the show.

What has the response been for Race Card around the country?

Mind-blowing stuff: standing ovations, rave reviews and sold out runs! But my favourite part is how positive and loving people are when they leave the show.

I love it how, after the show, white people feel so comfortable to tell me race jokes outside the theatre. People end up hanging around the theatre for hours talking about different things about this lovely country we have. I don't think a show like Race Card would work in any other country but South Africa; we are a special breed of people.

Mama Helen Zille saw it and raved about it as well. She said I delivered and it wasn't kak like the kak she has been getting thrown at her. (Okay, I added the "kak" part.)

Is the reaction different in certain places?

Yes, each audience is different. But my favourite audiences are Eastern Cape audiences; they are miles ahead in race relations and understanding. This show works best with a racially diverse audience. I hate doing it to just one demographic; it needs a mix of people from different walks of life.

And what can we expect from you next?

I am shooting a few films. I have a split second in the forthcoming movie Long Walk to Freedom and my next one-man show will blow people's minds. Twenty years of democracy will be the topic and how we have moved forward as a country. I can't wait for it! But my goal in life is to be better than I was two minutes ago.

Race Card (PG-13) is at Cape Town's Baxter Theatre until 21 September. Tickets are available from Computicket.

About Eugene Yiga

Eugene graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. He then spent over two-and-half years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa's top market research companies. Eugene also spent over three-and-a-half years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer. Visit, follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter, or email moc.agiyenegue@olleh to say, um, hello.

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