Durban — Seasoned comedian and actress Celeste Ntuli means business and does not crack, apart from cracking people up.
That will be tested as she will be a part of brand new Prime Video show LOLZA: Last One Laughing South Africa hosted by Trevor Noah, and she will battle against nine other comedy stars for a grand prize of R1 million for a South African charity of their choice.
The Independent on Saturday caught up with Ntuli to discuss her strategy and find out what challenges she faced as a woman comedian. She said she was used to working among men and her work was not tied to her gender.
“I don’t look at myself as a woman on stage but as a comedian. I’m a comedian, just like my fellow male comedians would just call themselves comedians. Comedy does not involve any physical lifting but it is a mental gymnastics game,” she said.
Ntuli, who is originally from Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal, encouraged aspiring women comedians to “just be funny” because that is what has helped her gain respect from other comedians.
“The fact that I am a woman is the last thing on their mind. I love to hear that other comedians are not afraid to ‘go after’ me. That shows me they can see me and appreciate my craft by not treating me differently. I know that when I’m headlining it is not because I am female but because I am good at this,” she said.
“There are not many female comedians simply because most women do not find being a comedian sexy. It is not because they are blocked from entering the industry – comedy is an individual sport. Also, most women are not attracted to becoming comedians because it is hard to find love as a comedian,” she said.
She said sometimes a woman comedian faced public scrutiny with questions such as “what does your partner say about you telling jokes for a living?
“It is a societal issue that goes back centuries. We are yet to fully understand and accept that women can be anything they want to be just as they used to be before colonisation. Being a wife or chosen to be a partner still stands at a higher hierarchy than a career for most people,” she said.
She said being chosen to be part of the show was exciting because she had never been in a reality show and it was shot right after the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and she was reunited with her colleagues.
“Working with Trevor Noah was also great because of his amazing work. Being a part of his show was my ‘I made it’ moment,” said Ntuli.
She said her strategy for the show was to go in and make people laugh and find the funniest side of herself and stick with it.
Ntuli is working on her book, podcast and a line-up of shows in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The 30-minute, six-part series is set to launch on Prime Video this year.
Independent on Saturday