PULLING NO PUNCHES: Comedian Tumi Morake is making waves this year.
PULLING NO PUNCHES: Comedian Tumi Morake is making waves this year.

Tumi Morake, making waves in comedy

By Sameer Naik Time of article published May 24, 2013

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SOUTH AFRICAN comedian Tumi Morake has been making waves on the stand-up comedy scene this year.

Coming off a successful comedy show, Bitches, the first lady of stand-up comedy spoke to the Saturday Star.

The 29-year-old mother of one is not only a stand-up comedian but also an actress, and has starred in television sitcoms such as Izoso Connexion and Askies.


You have made huge strides in the comedy industry in South Africa over the past few years. What contributed to this success?

I have worked hard and decided not to shy away from hustling. I also surrounded myself with people I believed fuelled my hunger for success.

When did you first do stand-up comedy and how did your first gig go? Were you nervous?

My first stand-up gig was for CSIR years ago, written by a senior student at Wits. Back then I never imagined I could write stand-up comedy.

How long have you been in the stand-up comedy business ?

I’d say September 2006 when I started doing open spots in clubs.

Which South African comedian do you most look up to? And which international comedian?

Locally, I would say David Kau for being so focused on fresh talent and John Vlismas for his genius and fearlessness. Abroad, the late Richard Pryor. I watched him and I cried with him and laughed with him. Powerful. No comic has moved me like that.

What was the first joke you ever told in front of a big audience?

A bioslim joke about the sad looking women who advertise it… I think.

Do you have a favourite joke? What is it?

A Your mama’s so old she was a waitress at the Last Supper.

Other than stand-up comedy, you are also an actress and starred in movies and in several TV series. What do you prefer, being an actress or standing in front of a crowd and doing comedy?

Definitely the comedy. I do it with confidence and I know I am above average in my ability. As an actress I feel rather replaceable, hahaha!

Which do you consider to be the biggest stand-up comedy gig you have done to date?

It has to be Blacks Only.

You are known as the first lady of stand-up comedy in South Africa. Like the name?

Yes, because this country has multiple first ladies which means I am not alone.

Who are your favourite female comedians in South Africa?

Tough one… OK, Celeste Ntuli because she just fills a room and actually makes me slide off my chair laughing. Monique Nortje because she’s so damn sharp and quick and brave and owns her identity.

Where do you get your inspiration for your jokes?

My own prejudices despite the different people in my life and things that grate me.

Were you always a funny person? Were you the one in the family who would always crack jokes?

Nah, I was always the butt of jokes at home. I was always the chubby one and the bookworm, so yeah, I realised I had some funny in me when I was in high school.

What does it take to be a successful comedian in South Africa?

Talent, great PR, a thick skin and the guts to perform to any audience.

Is there any comedian in the world that you would love to share a stage with?

Wanda Sykes. That would really inspire me to bring my A-plus game on.

What makes Tumi Morake laugh?

Everything. I think I am the easiest person to crack up. Watching South Africans still battling with being PC is hilarious.


What are Tumi Morake’s future plans?

Tumi Morake dreams of travelling the world more and performing across the continent. I am getting ready to perform at the Edinburgh Festival. I may also study towards my masters – just because I can. There is also some TV and film work in the pipeline. Oh yeah, maybe more babies too.

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