Eight figures stand on the stage of St Andrews Studio 1 barking out the alphabet at each other. Someone wandering in from the street might worry that they had interrupted a cult meeting, but those in the know would recognise the act as members of Nat Caf warming up.
The letters come faster and faster until they reach Z. After a unanimous whoop they launch into another warmup exercise, stretching out their comedic muscles in anticipation of their first performance.
Grahamstown’s resident improv comedy troupe, Nat(urally) Caf(feinated), known locally as Nat Caf, are back for round two at this year’s Festival. This year, the group is headlining their own show, after collaborating with fellow stand-up comedians in Stand Up and Smell the Funny in 2014.
Nat Caf’s team of eight comedians will play off of each other’s personalities and improvisations for their show, which is an hour long and riffs off suggestions from the audience. The first show of their week-long run is free.
Senior Nat Caf members Kate Pinchuck and Doug Smith explain the mixture of excitement and terror punctuating their preparations for their first solo gig at Festival: “[Last year] I felt like the audience wanted to see more of us. Twenty minutes wasn’t long enough. So this year we’re all excited to deliver a full show,” says Smith. “Sometimes it can go wrong but that’s the fun in what we do,” adds Pinchuck.
NatCaf has been performing since 2011, when the group was started by Rhodes University student Matt Jackson. The group has produced many well-known comedians, including Sne Dladla, who is performing his own comedy shows at the Festival this year, and Tyson Ngubeni, who is back on the Nat Caf stage.
Smith and Pinchuck say the audience can look forward to a fun, spontaneous and engaging show. “You can expect high energy and expect to see something that you didn’t expect to see because we don’t even know what you can expect to see … that’s the best part of improv,” laughs Smith.
St Andrews Studio 1
2-8 July, times vary.
Cue student reporter