A penny for a laugh?

Durban comedians rally together on July 12 to raise money for charity. 

In an effort to raise funds for several projects, NGO, Penny Appeal South Africa has embarked on its very first nationwide comedy tour, Penny For A Laugh.  

The cause has seen many South African comedians put their name forward to support. 

The tour is hosted by comedian Riaad Moosa and will feature an all star line-up with Annalakshmi, Chris Forrest, Conrad Koch and Chester Missing, Farhan Esat, Mo Vawda, Ndumiso Lindi, Neil Green, Simmi Areff and Tumi Morake, who will be spread across Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town shows. 

Starting tour tonight at the Durban ICC are three Durban comedians, Annalakshmi, known for her alter ego personality who wobbles her head, wears a sari and sings; Mo Vawda, who aims to celebrate South African diversity through humour, and Niel Green who humours audience with his stories about things he has gone through or observed, among others like Simmi Areff, Tumi Morake, Chris Forrest, Conrad Koch and Chester Missing and Farhan Esat. 

Proceeds from the three shows will go towards various projects including Penny Appeal’s ‘Children of the World’ campaign which shines the spotlight on orphaned and vulnerable children and marginalised communities across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. 

Proceeds from the tour will enable the OrphanKind Programme to provide essential services including a mobile medical bus for South Africa.

We chatted to comedians who are a part of the project to find out more. 

Annalakshmi1 - A penny for a laugh?
Annalakshmi. Pic: Supplied

Why did you get involved in Penny For A Laugh?

Annalakshmi: Penny Appeal does work all across the globe, thereby cutting across status, race, religion, language, caste and nationality. I aspire to the same values and I am super excited to be part of the Penny for a Laugh Comedy Tour. Who doesn’t want to share the stage with the comic genius Riaad Moosa?

Mo: Penny Appeal is a relief and development organisation which focuses on transforming communities and lives globally. One of the key focus areas are orphan and vulnerable children. To be able to support and raise funds in three cities for this organisation while spreading happiness and laughter with a fantastic group of comedians is exciting and rewarding.

Niel: Honestly Riaad cares so much about this cause that it’s infectious. Once he described what they were about so passionately I was on board. Where I really got excited though was when I saw the rest of the lineup. I always look forward to sharing the stage with artists of this calibre.. 

How do you stay relevant with your comedy? 

Annalakshmi: I read the newspaper and keep up with current affairs.

Mo: It is challenging to constantly reinvent myself, but I have a lot of support from my friends, family and colleagues who are always providing inspiration for new material. 

Niel: I just stay among the people. Almost all my material is based on interactions and conversations. To my wife’s dismay I also keep the mental notebook open while I’m in the house.

Do fans ever stop you and ask you to tell a joke? 

Annalakshmi: This can catch you off guard at times but a few lines in my Indian accent and wobbling my head makes them giggle and gets them off my back.

Mo: I usually tell them a really bad joke in the hope that the request is never repeated. Probably a ‘knock knock’ joke (LOL). 

Niel: Oh that’s not the worst at all. The worst is when someone wants to tell me a joke. It’s always an email joke from years ago or mildly racist or sexist.

Why should Durbanites come out and support the cause?

Annalakshmi: Laugher is the best medicine. It’s a stellar lineup. It’s for a good cause.

Laughter will reduce your blood pressure. Reduce your stress levels. Burn some calories. Boosts your immune system and just make you feel better. Also, laugh and put a smile on someone’s face.

Mo: This initiative is amazing, it specifically focuses on funding mobile health care and education. Second, we have some of South Africa’s best entertainers oin the lineup, third, it’s a great time out with family and friends. Finally, it will be a great ab workout with all the laughing out loud.

Niel: It always feels good to contribute towards a good cause and to make the world we live in a better place. In this instance your reward will be instant and great. You will leave feeling good for all the right reasons.

MoVawda1 - A penny for a laugh?
Mo Vawda. Pic: Supplied

What other charity work are you involved in?

Annalakshmi: I’m always helping small NGOs and NPOs with fundraising by making guest appearances or putting together comedy shows. Everyone has a specific skill, use yours to help others.

Mo: There are many initiatives including, cancer awareness and fundraising campaigns, fundraising for children who cannot afford school fees etc. I support as many initiatives as I can. If people would like to find out more, they can catch these on my Instagram handle @mo.vawda. 

Niel: I like to do community based charity. I’m involved with smaller ventures with schools, churches, etc. I have a very special place in my heart for Action in Autism. I had a particularly touching interaction with them a few years ago when I got to see how their efforts make a difference for children and families. The work they do is amazing.

* Penny For A Laugh takes place on July 12 at the Durban ICC. Tickets are R200 and is available through Computicket.

* For more information on Penny Appeal and how to donate to their cause, visit www.pennyappeal.org.za

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