Rustum August 1984-2012. Pic: R. August

Cape Town-based comedian Rustum August, 28, passed away after a short battle with cancer on August 2, 2012.

August was a founder of Starving Comics – a Cape Town-based collective of comedians. He was also known for organising gigs throughout the city and for giving a lot of the new comedians their first opportunity on stage.

The one-liner comedian died of complications resulting from lymphoma early on Thursday morning. He had been diagnosed just a few months earlier in May.

Angel Campey, comedian and friend of August, said that the initial tumor that was found in his chest had disappeared after August’s chemotherapy sessions. “The first chemo-sessions did work,” said Campey. “When asked if he has cancer, August would say ‘No I’m in remission,” said Campey.

According to Campey a second tumor was found near his brain two weeks later but August declined further chemotherapy.

Whilst in hospital, the Cape Town comedy circuit put on benefit shows for August who was a mainstay of the comedy scene. These benefits aimed to help pay off his medical bills.

Wits Vuvuzela journalist and a friend of Rustum August, Simmi Areff, posted this tribute on his blog:

“Rustum August died today and along with him a bit of my comedy and human soul.

Rustum would often tell me: “I want to eat life”. He did. Rustum ate my life and I barely had a slice of his. He would also say: “How do you tell someone you love what they have done with their life?” It is easy: I love what you did with your life Rustum.

Everyone has Rustum moments. Mine can be simplified into three: mince curry, our sisters and a cigarette burn.

“The night I got to perform was special”

Ragazzi had become the new home of comedy in Cape Town and if you were a comedian in Cape Town, Rustum or Gino would not hesitate to put you on the line up. But the night that I got to perform was special.

To get to the gig you had to walk through to the back of an African curio shop on Long Street and take a flight of stairs. As I entered the curio shop I saw a group of Muslim ladies with scarves on standing next to Zulu sandals, necklaces and carved wooden objects.

I’m not into performing to Muslim audiences. I love them but so many of them hate me, so I get slightly perturbed if I see any in a crowd (It’s the judging eyes they lay on you when you open your mouth on stage that gets to me, but this is a story for another time.)” Read the rest of this post on Simmi Areff’s blog.