Joe Barber

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Joe Barber is the name of a Cape Town barber shop and that of series of stage comedies and a South African TV series.

Not to be confused with the name of a number of international actors named Joe Barber

The personality Joe Barber

A real Cape Town barber, Mr Joseph Swain, had named his shop “Joe Barber” (an Afrikaans pun - "Joe" being a Cape-Afrikaans way of pronouncing "jou", the Afrikaans word for "your" - i.e "Your Barber"). By the dawning of the new millenium, Mr Swain's personality, the pun and his shop had become the inspiration for the series of hits plays by the same name. Swain went on to play a key role by supporting performances of the plays and it became tradition that on the last performance of every season he would take his bow at the end of the show.

The Joe Barber series of plays

In 1999 a comedy called Meet Joe Barber, written by Oscar Petersen, Heinrich Reisenhofer and David Isaacs, directed by Reisenhofer and performed by Peterson and Isaacs, opened at Skokiaan Theatre Bar, Cape Town. The play (and later the series of plays) dealt with daily events in a District Six barber shop, inspired by many visits to a Mr Swain's barber shop in Parkwood, where the authors had observed the clients, listening to the stories and jokes.

The original play was followed by a number of sequels:

2002: Joe Barber and Boeta Gamat Too,

2005: Joe Barber 3 the Family Affair, directed by Heinrich Reisenhofer with David Isaacs (as Boeta Gamat/Washiela) and Oscar Petersen (as Boeta Joe/Outjie/Valerie) at the Market Theatre

2007: Joe Barber 4 Directed: Heinrich Reisenhofer. Cast: David Isaaacs and Oscar Petersen at the Market Theatre.'

2009: Joe Barber Up Close

2010: Joe Barber 5 – School Cuts! Directed: Heinrich Reisenhofer. Cast: David Isaacs (Boeta Gamat/Washiela), Oscar Petersen (Boeta Joe Outjie/Valerie)

2013: Joe Barber and Friends

2014: Joe Barber VI – Life.

2019: Joe Barber's 20th Anniversary, performed at in the Grand Arena at the Grand West Casino.

2022: Joe Barber’s Family Reunion,

The plays have been performed widely in the country at festivals and comedy venues and in 2003 won a Kanna award for comedy at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK). In the latter years produced by Djamaqua Productions.

By 2014 the "Joe Barber" plays had become the most successful and longest-running comedy series in Cape Town.

Translations and adaptations

A spin off has been a TV series.


Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Keshia Africa. 2022. "The DNA of ‘Joe Barber’ ", Weekend Argus Lifestyle (22 July, 2022)[1]

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