Watching popular entertainment show Trending SA one evening, I discovered that Nina Hastie is really funny.
A woman of many talents, the comedian explained that her style, in part, was influenced by her experiences.
“You can only speak from a place of experience, so my comedy style generally opens up the conversation about myself and my relation to the world,” she said.
Quizzed on whether she’s ever gotten too personal with her comedy, Hastie said she doesn’t quite believe that’s possible.
“You can never be too personal. I think with comedy, the challenge is authenticity.
“That’s where the problem lies. If you ever are inauthentic, the audience will tell you. They won’t laugh,” she said.
Somewhere between being a rapper and a PR person with dreams of being a DJ, Hastie said she started thinking about being the type of artist that didn’t require set-up costs as a DJ would.
At the time, in the early 2000s, she used to hang out with the likes of Loyiso Gola and Joey Rasdien. And since someone mentioned to her that she was funny, she hasn’t looked back.
“It was a coincidence, I think. An accident is how I got into comedy.”
However, Nina has evolved since then. From telling jokes that you’d hear at a braai at the beginning of her career, to now, where she’s become a household name. She has become confident in her voice as a comedian.
“It’s a long process. Every time you perform, your next performance is a better one.
“As you unwrap these layers of yourself, you get to the core of your authentic self. You as a person change, and that reflects in your work.”
“It’s also very difficult for me as a comedian: being white and female is not an advantage in entertainment right now. It actually hasn’t been for maybe the last 10 years. So my colleagues all grew much faster than I did because there were more opportunities for men and women of colour, because that’s just the nature of the thing.
“I had to work more on branding for a period of time so I could super-cede my gender and race in order to get the gigs I wanted to get. For a long period of time, I worked on the branding, and now I’m working on the craft. That’s where I am at the moment,” Hastie said.
Another thing she’s quite quick to admit is that as she has grown, she’s also discovered how problematic her jokes were, and this now informs her skits.
“So now, my material is about how much of a problem I was. For instance, I tried doing kwaito. I had cornrows, and I thought I was the wok-est white person. And then jokes from that, because of that awareness,” she laughed.
I picked her brains on why we’re not seeing enough female comics come up. She said: “This is how I think growth works; you get better by doing more gigs. When you aren’t getting those gigs, you can’t get better. So when you are already exposed, and this is the thing about diversity and representation, when you are getting those gigs, you grow faster.”
Hastie is performing in The Comedy Mash Up. She is joined by Conrad Koch & Chester Missing, Trevor Gumbi, Nina Hastie, TolA$$ Mo and a rising star of comedy, Lindy Johnson. The evening will be hosted by Donovan Goliath.
Hastie said comedy-lovers could expect the best of her. “I’m going to be doing my stuff about Ben 10 and Blessers,” she said with a chuckle.
On why you should attend the show, she said: “ There are so many reasons for us to need to laugh at any point in South Africa, and these are some of the most curated opinions in SA at the moment, so they will give an opportunity to have a good laugh.”.
* Tickets for The Comedy Mash Up, at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City, are available from Computicket at R150-R250. The show is rated PG 16.