- Category: Comedy
- Written by Gisele Turner
Jem Atkins aka as ‘the single dad’ has taken the brave plunge once again and performed his stand up set virtually solo in a theatre rather than in a pub as part of a line-up. The comedy culture has grown enormously in Durban and Jem is one of the forces pushing it, not only by strategic media exposure and slick event coordination, but also because he is a charming comedian with a pocketful of hot jokes
Jem Atkins has got over the fears that beset a green comedian – will I get my punch line out on time, will they laugh, will they like me, have I got what it takes and so on. He bounces on stage, nicely scrubbed, trim, nattily dressed in designer jeans, cotton shirt, sports jacket and he’s having a good hair day too. Someone has described him as easy on the eye, maybe it is part of his promotional material, but it’s true. It’s as much to do with the grooming as it is to do with the confidence with which he stands on stage, leans on the mic stand and meets his audience square in the eye.
Jem Atkins is no stranger to the stage. As a youngster he was running around as one of the lost boys in Peter Pan, and every year saw him participating in pantomimes and plays that required bands of talented kids to sing, dance and act. As an adult, he abandoned the IT field after six years and decided to try his luck on the corporate arena, working as an MC and a stand-up, as well as writing copy to keep the wolves from the door. It was an inspired decision.
Jem understands the value of good branding. In fact you’ll often hear him say: it’s good for the brand. While people have to look for ways to describe the various comedians on the circuit, Jem has given himself a distinctive identity – one that appeals to both genders. He’s the single dad. Ach, shame! from the ladies and double shame from the guys. It pulls heart strings and it also pulls the laughs.
Jem gets fabulous mileage out his situation and it gives his set cohesion and purpose. He either takes a snide swipe at his ex-wife (there was more of that in ‘Single Dad 1’ when he was testing the water) or he plays his cute little boy with all the boyish energy and craziness that tickle folk’s funny bones. He still draws the laughs on his reaction to experiencing his wife in labour, as well as his battle to cope with the changes pregnancy brought about. It was metamorphosis, he says with a grin. You know, when the big fat hairy caterpillar becomes the butterfly. Except it was in REVERSE!
Jem is not shy to present himself as an object of desire. He does a lot of subliminal flirting on stage, and he also gets down and dirty to keep the big boys happy. It sits on a very fine line, this sexual undertow; just this side of offensive. He doesn’t come across as crass or coarse because he keeps the swear words off his palate, his references are often subtle, (except for the hamsters) he bats his long eyelashes and reclaims his innocence as soon as he has stepped over the line and he never drops his charm. He is what I would call a smart comedian.
You don’t have to wait long to get to see Jem in action. As convenor of Comedy of Fire, he keeps the acts rolling along and is gathering a number of venues who are joining the comedy circuit. He plays bingo with a difference. He is much in demand at functions and events. And he has managed to capture the interest and support of the media; this can only be attributed to knowing his market. Big ups, Jem! We’re waiting for ‘Single Dad 3’ already.