Netflix’s Comedians of the World series features four of SA’s own comedians

2019-01-07 15:29
comedians of the world, netflix

While 2018 may have left you with the end of year blues, why Janu-worry?

Online streaming service, Netflix promises to keep you in stitches with their Comedians of the World special, which started airing on 1 January 2019.

From the US to Australia, Quebec, the UK, Europe and the Middle East, comedians from all over the world are showcased in this special, including our very own homegrown talents Loyiso Gola, Tumi Morake, Riaad Moosa and Loyiso Madinga.

The four jetted off to the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, Canada in July last year, to take part in the comedy special.

Sharing their experiences of our beautiful country and more through their stand-up sets, our comedians have found that laughter is a universal language, understood and embraced by all.

We caught up with the four jokesters, who are excited about getting to represent our country on the international stage, about how they felt being part of the chosen comedy crew.  

If it’s laughter you’re after, you’re guaranteed to get the new year off with tons of it.

Loyiso Gola (35)

He was in London when his agent contacted him about the good news and was immediately excited, before getting straight down to business of course.

“It’s like yeah and then it’s boom! Let’s get the contracts done,” he says with a laugh.

Like a true pro, Loyiso says he doesn’t get caught up with nerves before going on stage, but instead embraces the experience and just requires “absolute silence” before getting ready for his set.

He speaks of his experiences as an African in his set and even though speaking to an international audience, it’s all relatable, he says.

“I just think audiences are the same all over the world. We all go through or experience the same things,” he adds.

“I think the fear of being relatable comes from South Africans just having a low self- esteem. I don’t think that’s a real thing that people are like, okay they won’t relate. I mean Americans make movies, they make movies about Cleveland and we don’t go, oooh.”

If it wasn’t comedy, Loyiso would be swopping out standing on stages for playing ball in stadiums. “I thought I was going to play soccer for Orlando Pirates in the midfield,” he says with a laugh.

But the calling for comedy has been strong since he was in school, so much so that his drama teacher advised the profession.

“When I was 17, we used to have this thing called job shadow and you could follow different careers and my drama teacher recommended I follow some stand-up comics because he thought I was an interesting kid and boom. After that I started watching David Kau at the Baxter Theatre and I thought, oh this is cool, and I got into it and never stopped doing it,” Loyiso recalls.

While he’s no stranger to the international stage, having performed a number of his shows abroad, Loyiso is pretty chuffed with the idea of being part of a special with the Netflix brand and even still has some serious fangirl moments, especially being surrounded by some of his favourite international acts such as American comedian Chris D’Elia and Canadian, Mae Martin. 

He’s most excited about everyone seeing the special at the release, and when it comes to performing alongside some of the world’s greats, it’s no sweat for this funny guy.

“I don’t really compete like that with stand-up. I just do my thing, I have confidence in my thing,” he says.

Tumi Morake (37)

It was quite a tumultuous 2018 for Tumi Morake.

From racism allegations, to leaving her job at Jacaranda FM, being involved in a serious car accident and even experiencing a hijacking earlier this year.

But there was a light at the end of the tunnel, she says.

After releasing her first book, Then Mama Said last year, and then getting the news of the Netflix special, it all started looking up from there on out.

“I remembered my aunt’s words, when she said. “you know what Tumi, when something bad happens it’s because something huge and positive is about to happen.” So when I got that message I was like, wow, serendipity? Coincidence? I don’t know,” she gushes.

She heard news of being part of the special – and the only female comedian from the South African group – just a day after being hijacked in Johannesburg and having her handbag and passport stolen, which was almost a serious problem for her.

“My passport was the only thing recovered about a week later. A homeless person picked it up. I almost feel like the universe was like, ‘Comedians of the World is something you need to do. We’re sending you this Netflix special, it’s written in the stars for you’,” she says.

Tumi is incredibly excited to have been part of the special and her highlight was just being able to go to Montreal for the festival, something she’d had to put off in the past when she was pregnant.


Riaad Moosa (41)

Between “overpopulating the earth with kids” – as he puts it – and living his dream of comedy, Riaad Moosa loves performing overseas, but says it can be a bit tough for audiences to contextualise who he is.

“They introduce as South African and then I walk out and they’re like, this bra is from South Africa, right? I’m a first language English speaker, but my accent, they’ve never heard this accent before. What’s your first language? I say I’m of Indian, Cape Malay, Cape Muslim descent but I look like I’m Arab, like I’m Egyptian and I do these accents and they understand the accents better than [they understand] me,” he says.

But no doubt about it, being part of a Netflix special has been a dream come true for the comedian who’s also a qualified doctor.

And as far as his medical skills are concerned, he has plans to take those to the stage too.

“I’m trying to do a funny, educational medical show. So it’s part of me finding my true comedic voice. I want to continue with my stand-up, it’s a love of mine, yet I have this need to also express myself medically in some way and I’m try to merge the two,” he says.

He’d decided to take the opportunity because it was part of his plan to grow in the industry, internationally, and with the support of his wife and four kids – as tough as it was being away from them – he knew this was something he had to do.

“Being able to pull this off comes from doing this for so many years,” he says.

He says it was his ability to connect with the audience that made his set successful. Although international audiences sometimes find it difficult to place him, he certainly has found his place in the international market.

“I hope I get another Netflix special, that’s paramount. I’m looking forward to the Netflix content coming out and hopefully from that, there’ll be attention on my other projects and more interest from a global perspective because that’s where I need to grow. Because I have the opportunity, I need to perform more overseas because that’s where I need experience. I think this is a good first step.”

Loyiso Madinga (31)

They still mispronounce his surname as “Mandingo” in New York, but Loyiso Madinga’s name isn’t unknown to the international stage after doing some stand-up slots on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And as far as comedy goes, Loyiso says as South Africans, we’ve got the edge.

“A super-power South African comics have is we’re used to always figuring things out. So going overseas isn’t a new kind of figuring out, it’s us in that natural state of putting the pieces together, working out the puzzle,” he says.

“I’ve seen a lot of America acts who, for example New York acts, can’t adjust outside of New York. They’re [very] funny but their stuff is very NY comedy. SA acts will be in a place for a week and they’re adjusted, doing as well there as they’re doing here.”

Believe it or not, when Netflix called him up about the special, it took some second guessing for Loyiso, who felt he wasn’t prepared for the gig.

“It’s one thing to have jokes, it’s another thing to have a half hour show. A show is totally different to just telling jokes on a stage because this lives forever as an idea. I wasn’t sure I had a show yet, I’ve got jokes but it’s not a show,” he says.

But as the saying goes, the show must go on, and it did for Loyiso who says his set, like many of his sets in general, was inspired by things that “just pop into his head”. 

Even though he’s become quite significant in the international comic circles, even so, anxiety can still get the better of him.

“Every creative person is just waiting for the world to figure out that we’re not good. You think to yourself, aaah is this the day they figure out I’m not actually funny? We’re always like, one day they’ll figure me out and that’ll be the end,” he says with a laugh.

He had his audience in stitches and says working with the Netflix brand was a breeze because they created an environment for each of the comedians.

So what did he find most challenging of this experience? Finding the beginning and the end for his set, “the middle is always easier if you know those two things,” he says.

After receiving all the satisfaction from this experience while on stage, he hopes viewers will too.

“I have zero expectations because I also partly have zero control over anything,” he says. “I’ve put it out there in the world and all the satisfaction I could have got from it was on the stage. Every great feeling you have about stand-up happens on the stage, afterwards it’s just back to life”.

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