Like a nightcap after a long day, a healthy dose of humour can do wonders for the mind, body and soul. And, as some experts will have you believe, laughter really is the best medicine.

Marc Lottering, during his stint on stage as the headline act at last week’s Jive Funny Championship finals, at Canal Walk. Picture: Fuad Esack

There might just be a grain of truth to it, if last week’s Jive Funny Championship finals, at Canal Walk, is anything to go by. By all accounts, it certainly lived up to the hype, with all of the contestants bringing their A-game, big match temperament and of course, a pocket-full of jokes.

Runner-up Khanyisile Ngwenya has the crowd in stitches during her set at last week’s Jive Funny Fest Championship, at Canal walk. Picture: Fuad Esack

Wesley Paulse, along with fellow runner-up, Khanyisile Ngwenya, impressed at last week’s Jive Funny Championship finals, at Canal Walk. Picture: Fuad Esack

Jive Funny Championships runners-up Wesley Paulse and Khanyisile Ngwenya accept their accolade from host and championship organiser, Yaaseen Barnes. Picture: Fuad Esack

It’s hard to keep a straight face in a room full of comics all vying for a spot at this year’s Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, at the Baxter, from Monday June 10 to Sunday July 7.

Anyone would’ve had a hard time picking a winner, but ultimately, Jaryd Pillay, a rising star on the comedy circuit, convinced the judges he had what it takes to be crowned champion.

Jaryd Pillay, a comedy guru in the making, on the mic during his stand-up routine at last week’s Jive Funny Championship finals, at Canal Walk. Picture: Fuad Esack

Originally from Durbanville, now living in Observatory, Pillay is not your typical boytjie from the ‘northeren’ suburbs. “I’m the Durban in Durbanville,” the newly-crowned funny champ announced during his allocated three-minute set and later admitted that he’s the first to announce that awards mean nothing, and that it’s just another show, that is, until he won his first Funny Champ title to take up his rightful place at the main festival, along with, as he put it, some of the best comedians in the country and globally.

Newly-crowned Jive Funny Championship winner Jaryd Pillay on his way to booking his spot at this year’s main festival at the Baxter. Picture: Fuad Esack

“I’ve entered Jive many times, never made it past the auditions and now I won. So, a pretty good day,” he said. “This means a lot to me, I’ve been doing stand up for a very long time, and this is my first ever award. This means the world to me, this means everything. I can’t wait to see you all at the Jive Cape Town Funny Festival.”

Pillay wasted no time basking in glory as he jetted off to Durban at the weekend to perform his one-man show, Passion of the Curry.

Jive Funny Championship winner, Jaryd Pillay, acknowledges the crowd following his win at last week’s finals at Canal Walk. Picture: Fuad Esack

Jive Funny Championship winner Jaryd Pillay, second from left, pictured here with host Dalin Oliver, headliner Marc Lottering and championship co-ordinator Yaaseen Barnes. Picture: Fuad Esack

“Jaryd is a natural and was easy to select,” said festival founder, Eddy Cassar. “His command of the stage, the microphone and his connection with the audience was evident as he walked on stage. His clever personal material, which embraced his culture, his parents and his upbringing, was well crafted and presented like a professional. My Jive Funny Festival audience will love him,” said Cassar, who staged the first comedy festival in the country in the late 1990s.

Cassar started the championships 11 years ago, to create a platform for upcoming talent. “There was so much new talent and not many big stages for them to perform on. It has grown into the largest comedy competition in the country and has become the developmental arm of the Jive Cape Town Funny Festival,” he said.

“After witnessing the growth of comedy after the advent of democracy and freedom of speech in 1994. I wanted to showcase this “new” art-form on a stage, which led me to put on the first comedy festival in the country, way back in 199,” he said.

Jive Funny Championship organiser and host, Yaaseen Barnes, says he believes all of the finalists have bright futures in comedy. Picture: Fuad Esack

Jive Funny Championship hosts, Yaaseen Barnes and Dalin Oliver. Picture: Fuad Esack

Cape Town comedian Yaaseen Barnes, himself a former Funny Championship winner, joined Cassar three years ago to take charge of the day-to-day operation of putting the championship together.

“This year we had a massive increase in entries,” he said, “Last year we had about 70 entries, this year we had 93 from all over the country.This year was the most diverse we’ve had, we had more women feature, more entries from all communities, which is a really big step for all of us,” he said.

“In terms of quality, it’s just been getting better and better. I think the standard in Cape Town has gotten better from an open mic scene because we have so many gigs running so more people, more comedians and non-comedians are watching live comedy. Everybody is getting used to a higher standard of comedy,” he said.

Jive Funny Championship winner Jaryd Pillay, centre, here with host and organiser Yaaseen Barnes, left, and headliner Marc Lottering and the rest of the championship finalists. The finals featured all the heat winners of the preliminary rounds and a few wild card entries. Picture: Fuad Esack

“The quality of the finalists was so good, I’m excited for their futures in comedy. The wild cards and the actual finalists are all going to be super stars in comedy. They’ve all got a place in the industry, they’ve got a place in comedy, whether it’s doing stand up, or whether it’s writing or acting, all of them have bright futures in comedy,” he said.

“I was very proud of the outcome of the competition in terms of the heat winners, the finals and the finalists. Jaryd is someone who’s been working very hard at the scene for years. Sometimes it takes people a little bit longer to find their groove and find their voice and way of doing comedy. If you look at Jaryd you can see the years he’s put into crafting himself and making himself ready for this opportunity and to take his career to the next level.”

Give it up for newly-crowned Jive Funny Champ, Jaryd Pillay. Picture: Fuad Esack

Words and Images: Fuad Esack

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