In a career as creatively taxing as stand-up comedy, when an artist is able to mark a successful decade-long milestone in the industry, you have to take your hat off to him.
Such is the case with award-winning comedian Loyiso Gola, who celebrates his 10 years in the industry with a new one-man show, Life & Times, which is touring the country, and making a stop in Durban this week.
Tonight caught up with Gola and discovered his to be a story of “being destined” for this career, which had its foundation laid in his high school years and quite unplanned at that.
“It was in standard 9 (grade 11) that I realised the possibility of exploring comedy. Before that I was very reserved and shy.
“We had this programme called Job Shadow (a work experience programme). I followed some comedians around. It wasn’t planned, I had to shadow someone and I had to write a report on it, so I just chose stand-up comedians. That was my first encounter with comedy. I had to write a report and perform part of the report and have never looked back since,” he explained.
A decade later, Gola has a host of accomplishments under his belt including winning an South African Comedy Award for Best Breakthrough Comedy Act in 2007.
He was later nominated for the Best Comedian of the Year Award at the Stars of Mzansi Awards and more recently in the same category at last year’s inaugural Comics Choice Awards.
Aside from being a regular on the comedy scene, many will also know Gola for his popular weekly show on e.tv and eNews, Late Night News.
Asked if all these accomplishments added any pressure to his career, Gola said it was about setting a standard for himself, not others.
“For me, I don’t really compete with people. I set the bar for myself. I like talking about things I like to talk about and I like to challenge people with subject matter. (The achievements) affirm that you are doing the right thing and it is validating, but the pressure is released by not trying to impress the audience, but rather doing it at your own pace,” he said.
During his 10-year career Gola has shared the stage with comedians such as Russell Peters, Jimmy Carr, Pablo Francisco, Jim Jefferies, Paul Rodriguez, Mark Curry, Brandon Burns and more.
The key to staying “top of your game” in comedy, Gola said, was to: “Refresh subject matter, read up and keep up to date with what’s happening in the world, observe and comment. Just stay on top of issues.”
When he’s not travelling and on stage Gola’s down time is dominated by soccer, soccer and more soccer, said the Arsenal fan.
“I also like resting a lot. If I get the opportunity, I do as little as possible.”
And the avid businessman is also kept busy by running comedy nights in Joburg: “I want to be part of the resurfacing comedy scene in Joburg,” he said, adding that he had also started a comedy agency.
Gola said he looked forward to performing his new show for Durban – the last time he performed here was in 2006.
His first one-man show – Loyiso Gola for President – earned him rave reviews, so anticipation for this new show is high.
Says the press release for Life & Times: “An older, more enlightened and insightful Gola will bring to the stage some of his celebrated material amassed over a decade of performance, which will also be interwoven in a narrative that will include content about the events and people who have shaped the country and the world we live in over the past 10 years.”
• Loyiso Gola’s Life & Times runs Friday and Saturday at the SunZone at Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World.
Tickets are R150 for VIP seating and R120 for general admission at Computicket and the Suncoast box office.