Simmi Areff is one of South Africa’s most known comedians, with sold-out shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
He is also the host of ‘Lesser-known somebodies,’ the third most popular podcast in South Africa.
However, in 2018 Areff took an 18-month break from comedy to “re-evaluate” his position.
Landisa spoke to Areff about why he took the break, what he’s learnt and what he’d like to achieve with his comedy.
When someone hears “ballet dancer”, what one imagines is a possibly petit and elegant and mostly feminine and female.
I think it is safe to say, that what one does not necessarily imagine is that the ballet dancer is a bearded, 1.8 metre tall, 117kg middle-aged man. But they exist. I am one of them. And it has been a journey in self-acceptance and overcoming stereotypes and stigmas, mostly in my own head and some very real ones as well.
As a little boy I had a flair for art, and certainly for amateur theatrics. I used to skip, dance, climb, float and in some ways was a very atypical boy of the 1980s.
We had just arrived back home from the worst holiday of my entire life. I unlocked the door and looked inside at all the Christmas decorations my dad had hung.
Then it hit me. He was never going to do that again.
But, let me start from the beginning.
My parents, friend and I went on holiday to George and Knysna in 2006. We left the day after Christmas and all the decorations were still up.
We hadn’t had a proper family holiday in a few years, but now we were away and having fun. I was 16, and I never thought anything would happen to make this holiday turn into a nightmare.
The start of January – and by extension the year – started in the worst possible way for me. I learned of the avoidable death of a dear friend of mine, stabbed to death in what can only be described as our society’s new normal.
You have a problem with someone? Kill them.
You have a disagreement with someone? Resolve the dispute by signing off their death.
You can’t stand the mere sight of someone? Send them to their Maker.
These instances play out daily: this I know, given the work that I do daily.
She came in a week ago, 37 years diagnosed with a stroke, a big stroke.
After assessment it was clear that a lot more than just a stroke was going on: she is HIV positive and probably has TB that spread to her brain.
Without needing a medical degree it was clear, she is sick.
Our first session was painful, although I was not sure where the pain was coming from, but still we managed to push through and as our eyes connected and she tried to smile at me, I knew I would be there every day, even if it was just to make her smile for a brief moment.