Cape Town - September may be Heritage Month but it's fast turning into a sterling month for two comedians, Tsitsi Chiumya and Phil De Lange, who not only scooped up awards at the recent Comic Choice Awards but will also feature in Trevor Noah presents NationWild.
The 13-part comedy series will air on Showmax this Heritage Day.
Noah handpicked all 13 comedians featured. Each episode features a short introductory set by Noah as the host, an interview with the featured comedian about their ladder to success, followed by that comedian’s set.
“In each episode, we’re going to meet some of the brightest emerging comedians in Mzansi,” said Noah.
This year’s Comic Choice Awards back up that claim: to win Best Newcomer, Chiumya beat out three other comedians featured on Trevor Noah presents Nationwild: Bongani Dube, Gilli Apter and Lindy Johnson, while one of De Lange's primary challenges for the Next Level award came from Eric Jansen, who is also featured on the show.
This is the second major award this year for Chiumya: he also won a South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) for Scriptwriting - TV Comedy as part of the Puppet Nation team.
The comedian hails from Lebowakgomo, a small township in Limpopo. He only “officially” learned English in 2006 when he came to Johannesburg.
“I went to the only English school in Lebowakgomo; we spoke really bad English there,” said Chiumya.
He added: “I thought I knew what English was before I came to Johannesburg, which was really embarrassing because I had so much confidence. I’m a pretty awkward guy so it was really weird for me to start learning English, especially when you come to the big city and you always thought that you would fit in, and then you can’t speak the language that people are using to communicate.”
De Lange was born and bred in Bloemfontein but now lives in Cape Town, where he co-hosts The Smile 90.4FM Comedy Hour between 9 and 10pm on Saturday evenings with Angel Campey. His dry, self-deprecating comedy set blends stand-up and ukulele.
“My first comedy set I ever did was at the Armchair Theatre in Cape Town,” said de Lange.
He added: “I was the first person I think in Cape Town to ever perform comedy with a ukulele. People laughed at me, not at my jokes, because my mic kept falling out of the mic stand and I broke my ukulele on stage. I was quite terrible to be honest.”
Getting handpicked by Trevor Noah and winning the Next Level award is proof of how much that’s changed.
“I don’t actually like attention at all,” said de Lange.
Considering that Noah’s already given fellow African comedians like David Kibuuka and Loyiso Madinga regular work on The Daily Show, anything’s possible for De Lange, Chiumya and the other stars of Trevor Noah presents NationWild, who include Gavin Kelly, Keenan Cerff, Kraai Du Toit, Mbu Msongwela, 2017 Best Intermediate Comics Choice Award nominees Noko Moswete and Tshireletso ‘Mo’ Mothebe, and 2016 Comics Choice Breakthrough Comic Award winner Virgil Prins (aka Prins).
Noah is in line for awards himself this month. On September 17, he could become the first black host to ever win an Emmy for Best Variety Talk Series for The Daily Show.
Binge all 13 episodes of Trevor Noah presents NationWild on Showmax from September 24.