AS A child her name was the butt of many jokes, but comedian Angel Campey has lived up to what her mother hoped for on deciding her name.
“My mother, Elza-Lynne Kruger, is a hippie. She named me Angel because she believed that I am a sunshine child who is meant to spread joy and happiness… Comedy makes my soul happy, I have realised that actually my mom was right,” she says.
Campey, 31, is part of a small circle of stand-up comediennes, which includes Cape Town’s Tracy Klass and Joburg’s Tumi Morake, and is making a name for herself in an industry that is largely male dominated.
I meet Campey at a restaurant in St George’s Mall. She lives close to Parliament, which sometimes inspires some of her jokes, she says.
“I’ve always had a dry sense of humour and as a girl you don’t initially see that as a career option. I started blogging for the fun of it when I was 28 years old, long before bloggers made money from it,” she says.
Her blog, “Random High-Fives” gave birth to her career in comedy which followed
a gap year in South Korea teaching English.
“It’s kind of a universal law that when you see a high five, you are just the biggest
idiot if you don’t return it… It (blog) is basically about things that anyone on the planet can relate to; funny and amusing,” says Campey.
“It gained quite a positive following, people started tweeting me high-fives pictures… they thought I was funny and my flatmate comedian Siv Ngesi said to me: ‘People think you are funny, why don’t you get on stage and do that?’ “
Campey’s first five-minute performance, her “birth date” in a Long Street bar came soon after that.
“Now five minutes is an insult. It’s basically enough to just get my name out. I thought it was going to be terrible, I told myself, just learn the jokes you plan to say and if it goes badly it doesn’t mean that you are not funny but that you are not good at this moment yet,” Campey recalls.
“I went up on stage with little expectation. I didn’t even tell my friends about the performance. When I started to intro the joke people started laughing, I didn’t expect them to laugh then… that’s when I realised that my thoughts that entertain me could actually entertain people.
“The next day I had more requests. The word spread because females in comedy are rare. The comedy community started talking about this new girl who is holding her own… after three months I realised that I could turn this into a career.” Campey, a UCT graduate, has since performed across the country and at Comedy Central’s Kings And Queens of
“Everything just snowballed at like a speed that made me panic. Performing for about 4 000 people during the Comedy Central show was both scary and awesome. I almost cried backstage because of nerves… when I was booked for the show I didn’t realise how big it was until that moment,” she says.
“A huge possibility we take on when we go on stage is that people won’t laugh at
your jokes. Some jokes are universal, while others work depending on the crowds… You just have to say what you think is funny and hope for the best.” Campey says that generally Johannesburg crowds are the best. “They are just more enthusiastic and loud, which is great. Whereas Cape Town’s are more thoughtful, you can’t get away with easy
comedy here. Also, Cape Town has a lot of international people, which means you
have to make sure that you don’t get too local with your jokes,” she says.
“When I started (comedy) I didn’t feel that being a girl was a handicap. In comedy, being a girl is like having a superpower because there are so few of us. The men are not threatened by us because we are not their peers. The industry is very
welcoming and supportive. There are so many women in this country who are
changing the face of comedy. Every single woman talks from their own lives, we’re
all so unique and don’t feel threatened by each other,” she says.
During a TEDx CapeTown talk in 2013, Campey gave a fresh perspective on topics
such as feminism.
“I feel like men shut down at the mention of the word feminism. Rather than speaking about feminism, just being a strong intelligent woman is the point of feminism. I’ve had men say to me, ‘I didn’t think that a girl who looked like you could be so funny and intelligent’.
“While it sounds incredibly offensive, I see it for what it is… the next time he sees a girl that looks like me he won’t judge her so quickly based on how she looks,” says Campey.
She is also featured in this month’s Marie Claire Naked issue which includes several celebrities posing semi-naked to raise awareness about violence against women and children.
“Doing it was a huge honour… we were not just posing for fun and giggles, but did it for a purpose,” she says.
Campey will perform her onewoman show, Yes, really Angel, produced by Siv Ngesi and directed by Nik Rabinowitz, at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June 2015.
[ This story was first published in the Cape Argus newspaper, March 11 2015 ]