South Africa’s comedy scene has livened up enormously in the last few years, but it’s still rare to spot a woman leading the laughter.
Claudine Ullman, the founder, managing director and a performer in the Jittery Citizens improvisation troupe is guaranteed to get you guffawing. The Citizens are about quick-witted comedy, where the jokes are as fast as they are funny. They’ve been invited to participate in the prestigious Dubai International Improv Festival in November.
After obtaining a BA in dramatic arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, Ullman travelled widely, first honing her craft at the London International School of Performing Arts and then receiving specialist improvisation training at the renowned US schools The Second City in Chicago, the Magnet Theatre in New York and the Improv Olympics.
She returned to South Africa determined to enhance the local live comedy and theatre industry by bringing innovative approaches to theatre creation and performance. As a more recent part of that, she records a podcast called The Big Time with Claudine Ullman to mentor and inspire emerging artists in the entertainment industry. The podcast features industry personalities and game changers who talk about what inspires them and what they did to succeed. She is also a writer for and a regular performer on SABC2’s sketch comedy series The Bantu Hour and she hosts a Jittery Citizens Show on Cliff Central.
Ullman is also an actress and has written her own shows, including her one-woman show Curled Up that she toured with in 2011. The acting part of her career has seen Ullman appear in corporate theatre and videos for clients including Sun International, Nedbank, Standard Bank and AngloGold, as well as starring in commercials for Standard Bank, Winterfresh chewing gum and OLX.
To spread the fun and freedom that comes from fresh and spontaneous thinking, Ullman also facilitates improv corporate workshops and team-building events to encourage employees to use their minds more broadly. Her clients include Mercedes, SA Tourism, Anglo American, E&Y and Sun International.
Ullman also co-hosts and facilitates Secret Sunrise events, filled with dance and yoga for early risers who want to kick the day off in a wacky, healthy way.
— Lesley Stones