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On Sunday night, the group attended a comedy show at the Cape Town Comedy Club. For most of us, it was the second comedy show we had attended while in South Africa. The first comedy show we had seen during our time in Joburg where it was hosted by Tats Nkonzo. The show was unique in the fact that it centered around race. Though the host was black, the show consisted of him inviting three of his white friends to share their experiences being white in South Africa. The show was not only engaging and thought-provoking but also very funny.

When entering into the Cape Town Comedy Club, I knew that the show would be different than the first one we attended. The show began with a white comedian introducing the show and himself as MC. Throughout the show, the amount of material I understood was about equal to the number of jokes I did not. I still had a good time though.

The last comedian stood out to me the most because one of his jokes demonstrated to me the importance of knowing a country’s history in order to be able to fully immerse yourself in the environment. The comedian was talking about one of his experiences of wine tasting and how the activity can be emotionally taxing. The comedian said he was tasting various years and kinds of wine by first wafting the wine, taking a sip, and contemplating the ingredients in it. After sipping one glass of wine, he asked the wine expert what year the wine was from. The expert told him it was from 1976. Taken aback, the comedian then asked what month the wine was from. The expert responded June. Becoming angry, the comedian then demanded to know what day the wine was from. The expert responded to 16th. At that moment the comedian then grew furious and proclaimed he could taste the shackles still in the wine. He then refused to have any wine before 1994. He only wanted free wine.

Now to someone unaware of the history of South Africa, the joke might have soared over their heads. June 16, 1976 was the day of student protests in Soweto. While we were in Johannesburg, we visited Soweto and the Hector Pieterson Museum. Pieterson was the first student killed by police in the protest. The Comedy Show indicated to me again how deeply ingrained history is in pop culture.

People often assert that history should remain in the past, not to be dug up and rehashed. This is a common practice in the United States. But this is simply wrong. The past can inform you of future decisions. History can inspire, scare, and remind you of where you come from and where you want to go. It is not just taught in textbooks. It can be accessed from conversations, experiences, and stories. The beauty of history lies in the eye of the beholder. Thus far, the two comedy shows I have attended here have reminded me of that.