Comedian Loyiso Gola is convinced that local comedians are ready to take over the world of comedy on all shores. After Trevor Noah’s appointment as the host of the United States’s satirical TV news show The Daily Show, and Gola’s recent debut as a correspondent on Australian satirical TV news show The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, the local comedic community is having a good season.
Gola has found his niche in satire – poking fun at local politicians in the Emmy-nominated home-brewed satirical TV news show Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola on eNCA. The Gugulethu-born comedian’s other TV appearances include being on the Phat Joe Live talk show in 2002, the Pure Monate Show and co-hosting the Dinner with the President talk show with renowned satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys.
Gola is one of the funnymen on the 2015 National Arts Festival programme, which includes Uys and Conrad Kock. The festival, which runs from July 2 to 12, will celebrate and discuss the role of satire and freedom of expression.
The Mail & Guardian met the 32-year-old stand-up comedian ahead of his one-man show in Gauteng, as part of the Loyiso Gola Live tour, which will end at the Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
Satire takes centre stage at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. How well does South Africa embrace this genre?
I don’t know. Most of these things I can’t really measure but personally I do think that we are on the right track. I just think that the people of South Africa hold the people in government in too much of a high regard and that needs to change; they revere them. I hope satire is able to demystify politicians and, hopefully, in the next 15 to 20 years we would have had a situation where the majority of the people in the country consider politicians as humans as opposed to these untouchable beings.
Do you think a lot of people don’t understand satire?
Well, it’s not for everybody. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. And sometimes it’s okay for you to do something and people don’t get it.
What is your response when people tell you that you are not funny?
It’s cool. I grew up listening to rap music in the early 1990s in the ghetto and people used to call us “wannabe niggas” [rappers] and used to make fun of our baggy pants and, in order for you to walk from one friend’s house to another, you needed to have thick skin because on your way there people would call you names.
If you do that to me now I’ll be like, “whatever”, but when you are 15 it’s quite a thing to compute. So now, cut to me being 32 and I’m like, well, this person will catch on.
I don’t take it as an insult even though it’s still hurtful because people are talking to you in person. But for the most part I’m like, “you don’t get it”, and it doesn’t faze me too much because there are more people who do think I’m funny. Everything that I have ever owned in my life is from comedy and I own a lot of things.
What can fans expect from the Loyiso Gola Live shows?
It’s pretty much a sum-up of the last year of my life.
How did your role on The Weekly with Charlie Pickering come about?
I have known Charlie Pickering for a long time so he asked me to join the show. We met up in New York and spoke about it a bit. He called me about a couple of weeks ago to let me know that the show is going on air. It wasn’t a complicated process.
What contribution do you hope to make to The Weekly?
I just hope to be funny and to give Australians a new look on Africa because they have a specific way of looking at us as Africans. So hopefully I could sway them to look at us in a positive manner.
What is the arrangement regarding your commitment to The Weekly and your work here in South Africa?
Well, I won’t leave South Africa. I do it by satellite. The time difference of eight hours is a bit annoying but it’s just the nature of the thing.
When will Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola be back?
LNN should be back in a couple of weeks. Nothing much is going to change but we might have a live audience this time around.
Who are some of the late night TV hosts that you admire?
I don’t really watch that kind of stuff. The idea is not to have a point of reference. I will watch an episode here and there but I don’t really watch comedy because you just end up finding things that you like and want to use and sometimes it’s from the wrong place and soon you’ll start dipping into that pool more often and it’s not original when you start doing that. Sometimes it’s subliminal; it’s not like it’s conscious.
What are your plans for the rest of 2015?
I might spend the whole summer in Europe touring from October to December. I’m about to sign a touring deal with a big UK agent. I will announce it when it’s done.
Loyiso Gola will perform at the Joburg Theatre on June 25. See Loyisogola.com for tour dates.