LOYISO GOLA LIVE. Nightly at the Baxter Theatre until Saturday at 8pm. STEYN DU TOIT reviews.
IN just a few days Late Nite News host Loyiso Gola could be an international Emmy winner. But before Monday night’s ceremony in New York, the Gugulethu-born funny man first makes a stop in the Mother City for his latest one-man show, Loyiso Gola Live.
Featuring material written over the past year, being taken on a tour inside his mind makes for a comically loopy experience. Delivered in his trademark deadpan and disarming manner, it is not difficult to see why audiences have fallen in love with Gola these past 10 years.
Through his eyes we get to witness rats revolting in Shoprite, narrowly escape a hungry fat woman trying to chomp her arm off and ponder the birthing processes of baby giraffes considering their mother’s you know what.
After making his debut as a 17-year-old on the Cape Comedy Collective circuit, Gola has since entertained audiences in New York, Montreal, Dubai and Edinburgh. Listening to him speak of his experiences with humility makes you want to root for him even harder as he prepares to leave for the Emmys.
While a lot of his jokes are centred on his globetrotting, it is the ones about his childhood that turn out to be his most entertaining. Through quips about being beaten up, only ever having peanut butter on his school sandwiches and seeing a private school through the eyes of a kid from Gugulethu, reveals a surprising amount of insight into the events that shaped him into one of Mzansi’s biggest celebrities.
Personal anecdotes are often followed by random chatter, a lot of times so out there that one can’t help but to simply strap in an go along with the ride.
When it comes to social commentary he also hits the mark. Why is it, for instance, that President Jacob Zuma is forced to read his speeches in English, often resulting in public ridicule, if it isn’t his first language? Wouldn’t letting him read in Zulu (with English translations for non-speakers) be more dignified?
As with a lot of observational stand-up comics, Gola seems at times hesitant to fully commit to his often sweeping statements. As a result he’ll latch on to a subject, drop his bomb and move to the next topic before the audience has time to register what it is they are canning themselves over.
Admittedly, not all of the material would therefore hold up when carefully considered afterwards. For example, take the controversial case of Liverpool footballer Luis Suárez, who got handed an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra “at least 10 times” during a game.
According to Gola, he felt bad for Evra when he first heard the news, but that soon dissipated upon his discovery that Evra earns R1.5 million a week. For that kind of money, the comedian reckons, being called the N-word would be the least of his worries.
In another incident he recalls being approached by a prominent local tabloid shortly after news of his Emmy broke. In a confession that turns out to be revealing of how the industry works, he claims they then offered to put him on the cover of the magazine in exchange for an exclusive scoop.
There’s also a mention of how he’s now able to get away with giving his girlfriend uninspiring gifts on Valentine’s Day because, in reference to Oscar Pistorius, she’ll only be too happy that he didn’t shoot her instead. And, in response to theories of a white woman leading September’s Kenya mall attack, he says this makes complete sense seeing that they spend days in a shopping mall.
But while the pietists and party poopers would have a field day with some of the jokes, the reality is that this is a stand-up show and, as a result, does not apply to the normal rules. Here you are allowed to loosen up a little and laugh at things you aren’t normally supposed to.
At 30, Gola is already a top comedian. Winning the Emmy will only confirm to the world what we have been aware of for a while now: he’s the hottest ticket in town.
l Tickets are R60 and R80. To book, call 0861 915 8000.