“It’s difficult hey,” says Ebenhaezer Dibakwane. “It’s really difficult when you’ve lived your whole life believing that these two human beings who are in charge of giving you every opportunity have betrayed you. I’ve since had to develop my own style.”
The 23-year-old stand-up comedian is referring to his tweet about his stylish parents dressing him like a muppet as a child. He laughs after his explanation, revealing a key component of his performance routine.
Dibakwane often turns the focus on himself, cracking jokes at his own expense before anyone else has a chance to. But he does so with the pretence of seriousness at first. This might be one of the things that saw South African comedians vote for him to become the newcomer winner at last year's Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards.
The annual Savanna Newcomer Showcase – where 24 up-and-coming comedians try five minutes of their material on a usually sold-out Soweto Theatre – takes place this weekend. Dibakwane, who knows all about being a newcomer, is the guest performer and Kagiso Lediga will be the host with the most.
As far as the advice Dibakwane has for the newbies, he says: “It’s nice because this is about the comics’ favourite newcomer. So try be as original as possible. After this, perform at as many shows as possible. Never forget to enjoy yourself.
“People get lost because they’re thinking of the award. Even myself. For a long while, I had expectations of what this award would do for me. Yes, it might give you a platform, but it won’t up your comedy. This comedy thing is a marathon. Don’t let awards make you stop giving comedy that is original. Do you because no one can be a better you.”
Seeing as Dibakwane also writes material for several shows, including a few sketches on The Bantu Hour, I asked him if he enjoys stand-up more than sketches.
“Yes,” he says. “I write and perform my stand-up. There is no question of where the credit will go. It’s testament to the fact that we are complete. Everything you are right now is enough. Enough for you to achieve anything you desire to achieve. If I’m right, watch out for me as the first comedy performer on Mars.”
Before he gets there, he hopes to release the film he’s been working on. “I’m writing a movie with a good friend of mine,” he shares. “It’s essentially about how people gave their lives for the Freedom Charter promises.
“Way before freedom came, they put aside their own views for the generation coming after them. A lot of their dreams weren’t realised. So this movie looks at that story, but in a comedic way.
"There are a lot of people who have been left out: women, the disabled, the poor. My comedy is about those people who were left out: people who are different.”
Catch Dibakwane’s brand of comedy in Soweto this weekend.
* The Savanna Newcomer Showcase is at the Soweto Theatre on May 28 from 2.30pm. Book at Webtickets.