A pretty coffee shop out front and a fully fledged comedy club in the back, this well-thought out venue (opened May 2016) is the brainchild of local comedians Goliath and Goliath. There are actually four Goliaths; Jason, Donovan, Nicholas and Kate, known as much for their self-deprecating stand-up as for their talent for organising comedy nights and this clever venture in the heart of the upscale shopping and lifestyle precinct Melrose Arch is the place the Goliaths had long dreamed of - a dedicated comedy club, promoting the best of the South African scene.
The comedy club is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights while the cafe is a daily venture, already a popular stop for light lunches and evening drinks. An extravagant spread of freshly-made cakes prominently displayed to catch the attention of passing traffic, is just one of the colourful features of the chic Roast Cafe which opens directly onto the street. There's a small indoor cafe area plus some streetside sofas perfect for lounging of an evening. Don't be surprised to find comedians parked up here, they are busy scouting the crowd for unsuspecting victims of the night's opening jokes.
As with any stand-up night quality varies. There are the experienced and the newbies, those tired old jokes and impressions and the bitingly sharp and fresh new ones. Every night promises to be different and that after-all is what real comedy clubs are about.
The crowd is a mix of the young and moneyed who love the Melrose Arch lifestyle, bachelerottes and birthday parties, the occasional passing tourist and other comedians and TV/radio personalities. The 160 capacity venue is intimate enough that no matter which table you are hiding at, you may well get picked out for some light-hearted ribbing - even the 'blessers' upstairs on the VIP balcony were not spared.
Service is extraordinarily fast, efficient and good humoured and drinks flow smoothly even during the comedy routines. There's a short but well-made menu of unpretentious meal options - burgers, pizzas, nachos, fish cakes, salads and the like - which arrive in generous portions. The club is also well set up for some warm-up drinks before the show. If you're with a group try one of the alcoholic slushy jugs to share.
The club was opened in partnership with the TV channel Comedy Central and the Goliaths hope to also attract international acts in addition to local favourites, while promoting a variety of comedy genres, not just classic stand-up. The Goliaths envisaged the club as a hub for the local comedy scene, the kind of place were regulars congregate and new stars are born. As creative director Donovan Goliath says; "I want people to love being there and just really feel like they're part of the family,” and for our part we most certainly did.
Tickets can be booked via www.ticketpros.co.za or bought directly at the box office in Roast Cafe. There are also a limited number of tickets available at the door on the night, if you arrive early enough you have every chance of securing one. There's also free live music every Sunday at 15:00.