Barry Hilton—a hit in Brisbane

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I have to confess that I had never heard of South African stand-up comedian, Barry Hilton, “The Cousin”, prior to his recent Brisbane performance—I now understand why he has such a following.

Playing to a packed audience at Fitzy’s in Brisbane’s Loganholme, his besotted fans made him feel right at home.

Having lived away from South Africa for 14 years, I began to wonder whether I would still somehow ‘get’ the humour after so many years Down Under. I am pleased to announce that if Barry is anything to go by, South African humour is timeless.

Barry Hilton, you are very, very funny and I think I get you.

His ‘peeps’ clearly got him too and if he was looking for a receptive crowd, this was it. And, I gather, so were his ‘peeps’ in Perth. In New Zealand he is expected to perform in front of sell-out audiences from 17-29 August, with four of his ten performances already sold out.

It was not all Barry, however—the show curtain-raiser was  New Zealand born comedian, Mike Bennet who had the parents of the 12-year-old at our table cringing. Fresh off the boat, I gather they had no babysitter so brought their young daughter along to see their hero, Barry. They were clearly ill-prepared for the barrage of sometimes hilarious but rather below-the belt humour emanating from Bennet. Here’s hoping it all went way over the youngster’s head…

While the local comedian drew plenty of laughs, the night clearly belonged to the expressive, goofy Port Elizabeth funny man.

His reference to ‘I can see your aura’ Capetonians struck a chord with Brisbanites who are constantly reminded that they reside in a cultural backwater compared to their far more sophisticated ‘Melbournians’ (Barry’s word).

“Capetonians say we have the mowntaaain and Jo’burgers  reply: ‘Ok well shame, we have the moneeey…we can buy a mountain…’ were among  his many quips.

His self-effacing humour went down well with the mostly South African audience. One-liners such as: ”it must be very boring living here—I’ve been here eight days and there’s only been one murder” or “the place is so clean—we need to get some people to dirty it up a bit” and “are tattoos compulsory here?” or “I was kak at school—I left Standard Six in second break,” met their mark.

But there again, with this besotted crowd, Barry could have stood and pulled faces all night and they would have loved him anyway.

And the love, it seems, is reciprocal. Judging by his warm and fuzzy post performance tweets, Barry will be back…

(Photo courtesy