News / Africa

South African Comedian Satirizes Obsession with Football Team

Darren Taylor
This is Part Two of a five-part series on 
South African comedians
Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 


A thin man wearing stubble, skintight white shorts, a bright red football shirt, black socks and dirty white running shoes saunters onto the stage on spindly legs. His eyes flash manically as he hammers with a fist on his team’s gold badge that hangs over his heart, to the exuberant, uplifting strains of the theme from the hit 1970s Hollywood boxing movie, Rocky.
 
He does stretch exercises, collapses into a ragged armchair in what appears to be a shabby sitting room, and gazes intently at a television while gulping deeply from a can of beer and puffing a cigarette.
 
“Glory, Glory, Man United! Come on you Red Devils!” he screams, as the commentator on the TV begins to describe a match involving the famous British soccer club, Manchester United.
 
“I’m telling you, George, it’s going to be three-nil to United today!” the man shouts at a tattered teddy bear – also wearing a Manchester United football jersey –seated next to him.

  • Dhaveshan Govender, a master at satirizing Indian South Africans’ obsession with Manchester United (Courtesy D. Govender)
  • Govender says many South Africans of Indian ethnicity are ‘infatuated’ with the famous British team that plays football 6,000 miles away from them (Courtesy D. Govender)
  • Govender is also a big Man United fan … But not as big as the fictional ‘Ricky’ character that he’s created. (Courtesy D. Govender)
  • Govender, far right, as he appears on a poster advertising a recent comedy show in South Africa (Courtesy D. Govender)

 
As the imaginary game continues – amid sporadic outbursts of support for United and the noise of the crowd from the TV – the character the audience comes to know as “Ricky” reflects on his career as “Durban’s biggest charro United fan.”
 
Charro is a slang term used to describe South Africans of Indian ethnicity in Durban, South Africa’s third largest city, on the country’s east coast.
 
“Ricky is a hard-drinking, 100 percent pure United [fan] through and through. He will die with this team. He’s not like me; I’m not as fanatical. If United loses I’m like upset for a few hours and I get over it. But Ricky would be close to suicide sometimes,” said Ricky’s creator, Durban-based comedian Dhaveshan Govender, who is himself a “die-hard” Manchester United supporter.
 
“My love for United started when I was a youngster and I used to visit a family of cousins in Durban. In that house you either support United or you keep your mouth shut. When the game was on I’d walk in and there’s my uncle and my cousins and all, drinking the beers and the brandy and watching the game and shouting at these guys [Manchester United players on TV].”
 
The fictional Ricky and a few other characters interact in a Durban pub named after Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford, in Manchester, England. With these imaginary fans, Govender satirizes many South African-Indian’s “Man United mania” in a hilarious skit called The King of Old Trafford.
 
“I know some guys who are so dedicated to watching a game of football that their eyes never leave the TV screen. They’ve perfected the art of keeping their eyes on the screen while still being able to spot the barman! Ricky is like this, as are many South African Indians,” the comic explained.
 
“If the end of the world happens and United happen to be playing, they won’t notice it. It’s that extreme fanaticism that I was trying to encapsulate with Ricky.”
 
Human story
 
Govender’s show is filled with various personalities, each acted out by him … Like the “rogue” car guard Rajan, who’s always in Old Trafford drinking beer by begging money from patrons.
 
All the personalities use colloquialisms commonly used by South African Indians.
 
“A lot of the words I use are actually vulgar…. A word like ‘Potter’ is a derogatory term for a gay person and it’s used by many Indian people in the Durban area. Like it or not, some of us are homophobic and my comedies reflect home truths,” Govender maintained.
 
“There are always going to be colloquialisms in my work that non-Indians aren’t going to understand. But at the end of the day, the stories in my comedies are pretty universal. I have had foreign people come and watch my shows, and people who aren’t familiar with South African-Indian culture, and they obviously miss the colloquialisms. But they get the idea; they know the intention and the context of it – because at the end of the day it’s all a human story.”
 
The King of Old Trafford is also a show that descends into farce as Govender attempts to capture certain South African Indians’ extreme feelings for a football club based 6,000 miles away from them.
 
Robbers enter Old Trafford
 
In arguably the funniest part of the comedy, a gang of armed robbers enters the Old Trafford bar while Ricky and a mob of his fellow Indian Man United fanatics are watching their team play on TV.
 
The scene is described by the car guard, Rajan, in language that’s rich with South African-Indian slang and in an exaggerated Indian accent.
 
“It was a typical Saturday afternoon,” announced Govender, acting as Rajan, to a sniggering audience at a recent performance. “The game was on, all the bras [friends] were there; Old Trafford was choked! Five ous [men] pull in. Four have got bush knives but this one bra – he got a machine gun!
 
“This machine gun ou he pull the trigger, he shoot a hole in the ceiling…. Next thing all the bras are on the ground, face down! And then these robbers were there, moving through. And they’re gripping everything they can find, man – wallets, watches, [jewelry] chains. And all the bras now, we’re scared. So all the bras now, we’re just donating our wallets and watches and cell phones and chains – all the bras…. Except, Ricky.…”
 
Ricky continues watching the game, seemingly oblivious to the robbers. “Rajan” explains how one of the criminals then stands in front of Ricky – blocking his view of the TV.
 
“Ricky goes red; he so angry; he don’t even notice this guy’s balaclava and machine gun, Ricky just kicks him as hard as he can! This ou flies across the room onto the pool table – eight ball, corner pocket! Ricky sit down; he shout at Siva [the barman] to bring him another beer. Meanwhile Siva’s crawling in the corner praying that these ous don’t kill everyone!”
 
“Rajan” tells how another robber then switches the television off, depriving Ricky of his beloved Manchester United.
 
“Ricky gets super-red, he gets up, he takes the ou one time with a Kung Fu kick. This ou flies straight out of Old Trafford into the car park. Ricky puts the TV back on and parks back on his seat. That’s when all the rest of the bras got brave. We grabbed the rest of the robbers and we tied them up and we called the cops. From then on, all the guys decided that because Ricky saved us all, he would be the king of our Old Trafford!”
 
Why Indians love Man United
 
Govender said he’s not sure exactly why South Africans of Indian heritage love Manchester United so much, but he has a theory.
 
“It may not be true but I think Indians like to back winners and United is quite a successful club. Since I can remember, there’s been this thing in the Indian community in Durban – you are either a Liverpool supporter or a Manchester United supporter, and those are the two most successful clubs in British football.”
 
The comedian laughed that his fellow South African Indians enjoy backing winners at all costs – even if it means sometimes being “unprincipled” and “two-faced.”
 
“That’s the thing about Indians, they want to be winners. So one year when Newcastle did well, suddenly you had Indians running around with Newcastle shirts on. But when Newcastle started losing, all those shirts disappeared!”
 
Govender’s comic attempts to reflect the “eccentricities” of South African Indians have not always been appreciated by his community, but he’s not fazed.
 
“Listen,” he said emphatically, “what kind of human beings are we if we can’t laugh at ourselves?”

LIsten to profile of South African playwright and comedian Dhaveshan Govender
LIsten to profile of Ugandan playwright and comedian Dhaveshan Govenderi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid