Here's what I knew about Daniel Friedman before seeing his show Deeply Fried: he is the son of respected columnist and political commentator Steven Friedman; and, according to a conversation I overheard at a recent awards function, despite winning this year's Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, his comedy was "absolutely filthy!"

The person who said this gave the impression it was filthy and nothing else. Now, I am a great fan of filth if it is funny, cutting-edge and, most importantly, original; but I was not expecting much.

I have not laughed so much in a very long time, which goes to show that eavesdropping is an inexact science and, fortunately, people have a wide and varied notion of what is filth, what is funny and what can be both.

Frankly, Deeply Fried (Friedman's character is Deep Fried Man) is far from filthy; unfortunately in South Africa, even grown-ups sometimes confuse filth with what is simply adult content.

Friedman is a "musical comedian". The stage is bare apart from a screen, on which he broadcasts visuals as appropriate, and his guitar.

Long before he admits (it felt like an admission) that he was brought up listening to Weird Al Jankovic sing parodies of popular hits of the day, I had already mentioned the similarity of his work to my partner, as I'm sure many had. So my advice to Friedman is to never let your petticoat show; keep those who influenced your work to yourself - the audience doesn't need or want to know; they just want to be entertained. And they were.

I was expecting the worst when the first thing Friedman did was to entreat the audience to stand for the national anthem, something I won't stand for. But as this was clearly part of the act and not some didactic patriotism, I stood and watched the funniest rendition of the anthem yet.

Because so few people know the words, he has helpfully put together an audiovisual version of it that makes no sense but sounds perfect. It is broken down into syllables, which I, for one, found jolly helpful.

A large part of the show is interactive, something I usually dread, but Friedman makes the evening feel like a game of musical charades with friends after several drinks too many.

He spends most of the show singing (and when he wants to, he has a damn fine voice, but he doesn't often want to) either new lyrics to old songs or his own songs. This is low-maintenance comedy for someone as smart and talented as Friedman; I imagine 15 minutes with his guitar and a well-worn rhyming dictionary are his only "research" requirements.

But as befits a comedian with such an overtly political parent, and because, like all comedians, he is an astute observer of his country and its people, the political, social and sexual content is right up to date.

His "I hate rugby" song was inspired, as was his "I want to make love to your sister", sung in the "love song" section of the evening. And his rhyming schemes are the best I've heard since Pam Ayres: rugby does rhyme with ugly if you sing it right - and who knew that "genitalia" and "Australia" were such an obvious fit?

He talks of his morals and values as a white Jewish boy in South Africa and his love and commitment to beauty - because Beauty does his dishes. And his strong feelings about justice - because Justice does his garden. (It's better when sung.)

Inevitably, much of his work is informed by modern communications technology - all that social media crap. His unrequited and moving love song sung in "text speak" is quite brilliant; it finishes, heart-rendingly, with "hashtag FAIL!"

He also tries to be the first white rapper - sung to music I haven't heard since I had one of those musical jewellery boxes with a slowly gyrating ballerina in the middle. My favourite white-rap line to date? "I get kicked out of the mall coz I'm lank hardcore."

This all looks rather lame when written, I know, but as with all the best comedy, you really do have to be there.

The show is flawed, inevitably, for perfection is seldom amusing; I found his wide-eyed dithering persona in the early part of the show a little irritating, but it smacked of a lack of experience and age rather than talent. And, as mentioned, he reveals too much about "the process" to the audience; we like our mysteries as much as the next man.

But these are minor quibbles. This is perfect, pre-insanity-season entertainment: it is riotously funny coupled with great socio-political insight, rude, often risqué, but never for its own sake and only about an hour and 15 minutes long - and it will leave you in an incredibly good mood.


Old Mutual Theatre on the Square, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton

0861 225 598, or

Run ends December 3