For those of you who don't know, South Africa's next president will be elected this year.
by mohlomi maubane Posted: 2013/12/04
Loyiso Gola for President
For those of you who don't know, SouthAfrica's next president will be elected this year. No, there won't be national elections, but when electing its highest office-bearer in December, the ANC will simultaneously be unveiling the identity of the country's next president. Those in the know say it's a race between eight individuals. Unbeknown to them, there is a dark horse that has been working on his bid for the country's highest office on the sidelines. For a person on an election campaign; Loyisa Gola is very discreet about how he aims to end crime, find a cure for AIDS, bring peace to the world, and put an end to unemployment and poverty. The manifesto, he says, will be delivered at his one-man show, Loyiso Gola for President, at the Market Theatre from the 30th to the 4th of February. He shared his views on less important issues with us.
Loyiso Gola. I was born in Gugulethu, but I moved out of there when I was 14 years old. I am 23 years of age now and I have been in Joburg for the past four years.
How did you start… (Interrupts)
In standard nine, as part of our curriculum, we had something called drop shadow. It was all about choosing one person you knew and following their career; basically checking out what their day-to-day life at work entailed. At that time, I was hanging out with Kagiso Lediga, Stewart Taylor, Riaad Moosa…all those guys who were doing comedy in Cape Town around 2000. So for my drop shadow, I jut followed them around. The next thing I know, I wrote a set, and performed at the Armchair Theatre. The next year in matric, when everyone was thinking about becoming an engineer and all of that, I was thinking maybe this is what I ought to do.
What happened after you matriculated?
I remember when I was writing my final paper, I had to dash to the airport as soon as I finished because I was billed to perform on Phat Joe Live. I missed my flight though. I assumed that I was writing a two-hour paper but it turned out to be a three hour paper instead. So I missed my flight but the next Wednesday I made it to the show. I have yet to return to my mother's house since then.
Would you say that was your big break?
I cannot really pin-point a break because as much as I have done a lot of shit, I have not really like blown up. I have always had people say, 'wow, this kid is nice', that is all. Maybe this show will be my big break.
Tell us a bit about the show
It's called Loyiso Gola for President and it runs at the Market Theatre from the 30th of January to the 4th of February. It's a political show as the title suggests, but it covers a wide range of subjects from sex, race, and so forth. I don't want to give out details of the show; people must come and check it out for themselves.
Humor is a universal commodity but South Africa does not have a culture of stand-up comedy. Why do you think is that?
We are a new country man. At least we are progressive as well. I mean, there is like only six countries in the world where you can earn a living as a stand-up comedian. The US, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and us. So we are not that bad, plus there are always new acts coming out of nowhere who have great material.
How would you rate South African stand-up comedy in comparison with the rest of the world?
We are on par. I think there are some acts who are level with the best in the world. I think what we need to do is do more world gigs. We must travel more, even if you go to Zambia, go to the US, go to Hong Kong and see what connects us as a people and what makes us laugh. Even some of the best comedians in the world can't crack that. It's easier to do it visually with movies, but with stand-up…
Where would you rate yourself in the local scene?
I am the cream of the crop. I am at the top of the food chain. If you counted the top five acts without including me…then I don't know.
Any comedian you think is so whack he should be booed every time they take to the stage
Urm…I can't think of anyone in particular.
How would you describe an ideal show?
It is one where people laugh from the first joke to the last joke. A show where people will listen and try to understand what I am saying, instead of just thinking, 'ah! This boy is funny'.
Have you had a show that you would rather forget about?
I have had a couple. Its mostly corporate gigs. First there will be a speech, and then management makes an announcement that does not go down well with workers. Once the announcement is made, they will say 'now its time to welcome the comedian'. They don't give you enough time to do your set, and the audience is too busy discussing management's announcement and they don't care what you are talking about.
Is there any ritual you follow before getting onstage?
I smoke a joint. Just joking. Nah, nothing major. I just switch off my phone and listen to music on the i-pod.
What are the upsides and downsides of the job?
The upside is that you have plenty of time to do other stuff, whether it's leisurely or business stuff. The downside is that you might be going through a hard time; maybe you are depressed because you have been dumped, or someone has passed away, people don't care about that; they just want to laugh.
Who should be a stand-up comedian?
Anyone who is funny enough. Stand up comedy though is about sets and preparation. You can be funny around a braai, but find it difficult to be funny on stage.
What is your main source of material?
Stuff! That my only answer for that. Everyday stuff man, I can make a joke about this interview for instance.
How long are your sets?
On Loyiso Gola for President it will be one hour 20 minutes long. I will be having a musical act in the beginning. His name is T.O.P. He is also from Gugs and he does Xhosa raps.
What is your next step after the Market Theatre?
From there I am going to Durban where I will be performing for a month. There is a Canadian act, Sugar Sammy, who will be touring the country. He used to open for Dave Charpell in New York and chose me to open for him in South Africa. After Durban, I want to do a campus tour around tertiary institutions.
What are your expectations for the show?
I am optimistic. If I can pull 3000 people, it will be considered a top seller.