By Huntress Thompson
One Vandal chatted to guitar-wielding satirist Deep Fried Man on the opening night of his White Whine musical comedy show.
There’s a little segment in one of Louis CK’s stand-up shows where he talks about the fact that “everything is amazing and no one is happy”. That principle, mixed with South African racial/political tension, plus folk music, is Deep Fried Man’s White Whine.
Asked to describe his show in 5 words, Daniel Friedman grins (while counting on his fingers), “Satire + Music + Silliness + Visuals + Wine”.
Last night’s performance at Old Mutual’s Theatre on the Square marked the opening night of the show, which will be playing out until 30 September. The stage was done up like a little 1970s-style lounge, where the comedian performed from a one-seater couch to a red-faced crowd who started out uneasy, and left the theatre wheezing from laughter.
“I guess, growing up, it would be Monty Python that was my biggest comedy influence. That’s what my dad was really into,” says Deep Fried Man. “In terms of music, Monty Python had a lot of musical comedy, but it was when I saw Flight of the Conchords that I thought ‘Wow, I could do this.’”
He explains, “I was a folk singer, singing pretty sad songs at the time, and it was like a breath of fresh air to me, to realise how much more fun you can have when you’re trying to make the audience laugh instead of cry”.
Opening night was a motley bag of tricks, with both parody songs and original pieces ranging in theme from interracial dating to pop singers, and from politicians to rapper literacy.
The success of Deep Fried Man is that, even on the rare occasion that his songs do feature an easy rhyme or a bit of filler, he’s charming and earnest enough for you to keep smiling, and hanging on until the big joke lands – and it always does. He’s a performer who wins even new audiences over really quickly, so that you’re on his side when he tries something a bit trickier. Obviously, that’s invaluable.
Who, ultimately, are Deep Fried Man’s fans? They’re kids. “Everyone watches comedy now in South Africa,” he says. “But the guys who tend to pick up on me specifically, and who end up on my social media, it’s generally younger people. It’s not a cultural thing, because it’s people of all different cultures – the only thing they seem to have in common is that it seems to be people anywhere from high school to their mid-30s.”
“I think it’s because some of my stuff can be considered offensive. I seem to be quite divisive. I do get a lot of hate! But I get people who are quite committed as well. I think those people are younger.”
“I mean, I admire comedians who can do very clean and safe humour, but that was ruined for me by South Park! I think it’s those kids who grew up on that sort of stuff, and understand it, that appreciate my comedy the most.”
If you’re one of those kids, Deep Fried Man’s White Whine runs at Old Mutual’s Theatre on the Square in Sandton until 30 September. Catch it before it’s gone.
In the vacuum between dark and light, Siouxsie Sioux and Emmylou Harris, Amelie and Travis Bickle, Huntress Thompson is an idiot lost, and reporting from the field. If you’re after irrational rants about cupcakes and Johnny Cash (and you probably aren’t), she’s grumpy, but she’s your girl.