'So there was this guy -'

Shonisani Aubrey Molea is a Yfm DJ and as a stand-up comic he’s called Shabba. He will share the stage with United States comedian Zooman and local funnyman Marc Lottering.

Shabba’s stagecraft is driven by Shabba lingo. After moving to Pretoria from Venda to study at Technikon Northern Gauteng in the early 1990s he befriended a staunch Zulu speaker.

The chemistry of a Venda and Zulu speaker trying to survive in a predominantly Tswana-speaking area gave rise to an improvised lingo, with words and phrases being invented and poetic licence employed to tweak the meaning of familiar words.

Now on Yfm, he simply tells familiar stories with strange character names using a simple suspense technique to build up to the punch line, interspersing the lot with music and stings. He has created a trademark out the phrase A shifa mothakio, Sepedi for ‘So there was this guy ... ”

Unlike other popular comedians, Shabba does not tell jokes but stories. ‘I am on a crusade to entertain and decolonise the African mind,” he says. ‘African people must begin to appreciate their own languages. I am trying to show that comedy can be taken to a higher level.”

He says the frequency of two evening slots on Yfm suits him. ‘The comedy works if you do not give [the listeners] too much.” Yet, his statement is somewhat contradictory since these days listeners get quite a lot of him — first through his slot on SABC2’s Dube on Monday, hosted by Desmond Dube, and second on his new CD.

Last Thursday he packed the Arena nightclub in Midrand to record an hour of hilarity.

So where does the name Shabba come from? You guessed it. At technikon he once sported the same haircut and sunglasses as rapper Shabba Ranks, to go with his emphasised cheekbones and dark skin.

Zooman brings with him his experience of more than a decade in comic performance. Refreshingly, he does not consider comedians to be normal people. ‘No, no not at all,” he says. ‘For some people it is a curse, for some it is a gift.”

He says for him it is a healing power. ‘I do things that doctors can’t even do. They give you medicine and tell you to be in positive spirits; I keep you in positive spirits.”

This Richard Pryor-inspired comedian grew up in New Jersey and relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, to pursue music but ended up in comedy because, he says, ‘Comedy pays you faster.” Since appearing in Darryl Simmons’s Def Comedy Jam in 1993 — hosted by Martin Lawrence — he has grown to headline the 1996 national tour of the show and earning a deal with NBC.

‘My material is inspired by the intellectual side of things, I even do Shakespeare,” he says, adding that he avoids tasteless vulgarity, since his grandmother is still alive. One of his highlights is the remix of the Star Spangled Banner, with versions known as the I Am Down and Out Can You Loan Me $5 remix and the Stevie Wonder I Can Still See You remix.

Both the veteran and the newcomer will be complemented by Lottering, the man who won a battle to get coloureds their token TV show — Marc Lottering and Friends. As he said in his promo: ‘Not cousins, not okes — but friends.”

Catch the Sprite Comedy Jam at the Civic Theatre Complex in Braamfontein on November 24 at 8 pm and November 25 at 3pm. Book at Ticketweb, www.ticketweb.co.za. For more information on the show visit www.ashifashabba.co.za.

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