Laughter better medicine than Greta, says SA comic

Laughter better medicine than Greta, says SA comic

Greta Thunberg, the teen green activist, would win more people to her cause if she cracked a few jokes, says actor

  • A special performance of Benny Bushwacker in aid of Project Rhino is being held at Hilton College in April.
  • Actor, Ben Voss has promised  a night of ‘wild’, hilarious entertainment to make people think about pressing environmental issues.
  • If  criminal networks continued to target rhino they could well disappear from the wild areas, says Voss aka Benny Bushwhacker

First published by Sunday Tribune

Greta Thunberg has gained an army of supporters for her stern take on climate change, but South African comic actor Ben Voss reckons the Swedish 17-year-old might be missing a trick, writes Jared Sumar.

Voss, who has been touring the country with his show Benny Bushwacker – Human Nature, a humorous take on important environmental themes, said approaching serious issues with a metaphorical sledgehammer was not always the best way to drive a message home.

In Benny Bushwhacker, Benn Voss play plays a genial environmental campaigner, dishing our wild but thought-provoking entertainment. Photos courtesy

“They say people are most vulnerable when they are laughing. In using comedy I am able to open people up, make them relax and laugh, and then while they are open and vulnerable, gently suggest they look at their lives and how it impacts the earth,” Voss said.

He believed this was better than “Greta’s sledgehammer approach”.

Crack some jokes, Greta!

“Especially when you see the resistance she gets from those on the right. “Preaching to the converted is easy; preaching to the unconverted requires humour,” said Voss.

If Greta cracked more jokes people would listen more.

The 46-year-old was speaking to Roving Reporters ahead of a special performance of Benny Bushwacker in aid of Project Rhino at the Hilton College Theatre on 18 April.

Saving rhinos

Project Rhino is an association of conservation agencies, state and community game reserves, rhino owners and anti-poaching specialists. Members fight rhino poaching and work to secure the white and black rhino populations in KwaZulu-Natal.

Voss’s one-man show has played to rave reviews across the country and won two Standard Bank Ovation Awards at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

It touches on some important themes about how man interacts with his environment.

Rave reviews

The engineer-turned-actor is perhaps best known for his part in the smash hit Spud – the Movie and for a string of theatre comedies, notably his Green Mamba and Black Mamba sketches.

In Spud – the Movie,  Ben Voss plays Mr Lily, Spud’s art teacher and under-14D/E rugby coach. Photo courtesy

And his alter ego, Beauty Ramapelepele, has become something of an institution, with its biting social comedy.

In this latest show, Benny Bushwacker – Human Nature (written by Spud author John van de Ruit), Voss plays a genial environmental campaigner, “who reveals all about what it takes to survive the African bush… and for the African bush to survive”.


Conservation is a subject close to Voss’s heart.

He said his association with Project Rhino grew after he met the NGO’s ambassador, Grant Fowlds, at a school conservation awareness day.

“We had some good chats and he came to see my show that night. We spoke about an opportunity to combine our skills,” said Voss.

The Hilton show is the result.

Wild & hilarious

The actor has promised audiences a “night of ‘wild’, hilarious entertainment with the intention of making people think and laugh and, hopefully, making some money to save these beautiful beasts of the wild”.

Voss said rhino continued to be targeted by highly organised and well-funded criminal networks and could well disappear from the wild areas if it were not organisations like Project Rhino.

“Project Rhino are working 24/7 to keep our wildlife safe and need all the support they can get… Because no-one needs a rhino horn, but a rhino,” said Voss.

And if the crowd was to leave with one thing remembered, what would you want it to be? Roving Reporters asked Voss.

“I hope they come out saying: ‘That was a good laugh! Oh, babe, won’t you walk that extra step and throw this cup in that recycling bin.”–

  • Jared Sumar is a Goucher College sociology student. This story was produced under the mentorship of Roving Reporters with support from the Sunday Tribune.

Tickets for Benny Bushwacker – Human Nature, on April 18 at the Hilton College Theatre, are R160 and can be booked through Webtickets. The PG-rated show runs for 65 minutes.


BANNER IMAGE:  Photo of Greta Thunberg: Anders Hellberg courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 


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