Finance can be funny - comic Nik Rabinowitz to emcee CFO Awards

Capetonian Nik Rabinowitz is one of the country’s most well-known stand-up comedians and is renowned for his cutting wit. International appearances include Australia, Canada, Holland, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Zimbabwe. He’s been a guest on BBC 2’s Mock the Week, performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and intentionally driven on the wrong side of the road in Nigeria. We spoke to him about finance, comedy and his appearance as emcee at the CFO Awards 2017.

The annual 'Oscars for South African CFOs', to be held on 11 May, recognise CFOs of listed companies, large corporations, state-owned entities and government institutions, and awards them for outstanding performance and leadership.

Is it true you have a finance degree from UCT?
Yes, finance was my first choice but in life sometimes you have to be realistic so I had to go with my backup plan - comedy. Would I have been happier in finance? Maybe, but there are many benefits to being a comedian like being an unrespected member of my community and an unstable income, so I can't complain.

Can you draw any parallels between comedians and chief financial officers?
I'm not sure about parallels, but I can tell you that in both cases it's important to know the different between a good one and a bad one.

What advice would you offer accountants considering a career change?
Don't tell your mother. Ever.

What can the finance elite expect from you as our host on the night of the CFO Awards?
They can expect the same thing I expect from them - honesty.

How did you get into stand-up comedy?
I realised I wanted to be a comedian, quit everything else, overcame unimaginable fear, performed relentlessly for more than a decade and bam! - Comedian. Easy.

What is the secret to effective public speaking?
Imagine everyone is naked Donald Trump.

Do you alter your humour based on your audience?
Yes, sometimes. Like if my mother-in-law is in the audience, I don't tell the jokes about her.

Do you have any finance-related jokes?
You'll just have to wait and see...

Which comedians inspire you?
Some early favourites were Mel Brooks, Eddie Murphy and my dad's cousin, Pinchas.