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Tsitsi Chiumya on what makes him laugh and hosting the Savanna Newcomer Showcase

2019-04-24 16:50
Tsitsi Chiumya
Tsitsi Chiumya (Photo: Supplied)

Cape Town - The first in a series of events to be rolled out by the Savanna Comics' Choice Awards, local comedian Tsitsi Chiumya will be hosting this year's Savanna Newcomer Showcase.

A fitting choice as host, the rising comedy star won last year's Savanna Newcomer of the Year award as well as a SAFTA for scriptwriting as part of the Puppet Nation team. 

Hailing from Limpopo, Tsitsi was singled out by South Africa's most celebrated comedy export Trevor Noah, to take part in the comedy TV series, Trevor Noah Presents Nationwild

Tsitsi also appeared on BBC Arts Hour, which featured Spike Lee in the same season. 

Channel24 spoke to Tsitsi about what makes him laugh, and how winning the prestigious award last year has changed his life. 

1. How has winning the Savanna Newcomer of the Year Awards changed your life?

It has set me up for a lot. The Savanna Newcomer of the Year Awards do a lot for young comedians in South Africa. Since winning, I've been able to tour and visit some of the most amazing places in the world with my comedy. I've been able to visit Asia, where I was for about a month as well as Zambia. And I've just returned home from Germany. The awards put you at the forefront of South African comedy. And having these types of accolades help build your reputation as a comedian.

2. How do you come up with your material?

I pay a lot of attention to people, and how they react to certain situations. I used to be a video game designer, where you have to take note and look at the nuances of how people play games, and what people like. With comedy, I tend to look at the finer details of people. I'm very observant and find my inspiration from the people around me and how they live their lives.  I see an angle and try and extract those awkward moments.  

3. Who are what makes you laugh?

Well, I don't have a favourite comedian, but I have favourite moments from comedians. I don't want to limit myself to one comedian. I also love watching silly YouTube videos, like people falling or doing ridiculous things. It makes me laugh.

4. What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

The most embarrassing thing that can happen to you is when people don't laugh at your jokes, and it can be really awkward. 

5. What would you be doing if you weren't a comedian?

I would still be doing my day job, as a video game designer. But I always say that it takes the same thought process to design a game as it takes to write a joke. You have to take into consideration the user or the audience, and how they will experience your craft. How will they experience the game or how will they experience the joke? It can all get very technical.

6. What do you enjoy most about being a comedian?

I don't like to wake up early. I know it sounds terrible. But I also get to take my time in the morning, and I can work out at the gym, or read a book. I mostly work during the day or at night, and I enjoy it.

7. What advice do you have for the comedians who will be part of the Newcomer of the Year Awards line-up?

I know it's been said so many times before, but just be yourself. This is your big stage. Some new comedians will get on stage, and feel like they have to present a different person or tailor their routine to the audience. But that is the biggest mistake you can make. It's better to be authentic because that's what people like about you rather than to experiment with trending topics that you haven't practised well. Being different is the best tool, that you can have.  

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