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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid