Fresh from the sold out Joburg leg of his new one-man show, Life and Times, Loyiso Gola is bringing it all back home. Helen Herimbi got the skinny.
By the time we eventually find parking in the crowded city centre, Loyiso Gola has told me where to party, which people to hang out with and where to get a good gatsby. Cape Town, the well-known comedian’s hometown, has a very special place in his heart.
Even before we’ve reached the radio station where he is to be interviewed about his one-man show, Life and Times (which celebrates Gola’s 10 years in the entertainment industry), he makes it clear this is his ’hood. “I’m from Cape Town,” he says. “I know everyone.”
And, it seems, everyone knows him.
The security guard at the station’s entrance is beside himself when Gola enters. A blonde woman faffs over him and asks to take a few snaps later on.
The radio DJ, a childhood family friend, grins from ear to ear with every witty answer Gola offers. At a glance, it looks as if this stand-up-comedian-cum-TV star (from The Pure Monate Show to Late Nite News with Loysio Gola) is right at home.
Until the politically charged comedian is asked if South Africa is a funny nation. He slides off his chair chuckling. Then he says people in Cape Town, in Parliament in particular, are very funny.
“First of all,” he explains, “they elected that other guy who looks like he’s baking a loaf of bread behind his ears to be president.”
The studio is filled with silent fits of laughter. The DJ hides under his desk, canning himself. But the mood is not so jovial when the tables are turned and the DJ not-so-subtly cheerleads for the DA party in every sentence thereafter.
As though he were sitting in his own lounge having a conversation with his friends about spending a decade in comedy, Gola talks freely. He even gives one of the reasons he isn’t jumping on the DA bandwagon.
“There is more to governance than service delivery,” he stamps his fists on the table, “there are also policies to be made.”
Suddenly the mood has changed.
The laughs keep coming, but the DJ is no longer trying to put Gola on a plate and sop him up with a biscuit. When we leave the station, Gola wants to know: “How did I do? Was it okay?”
His manager, Takunda Bimha, calmly says what we’ve all already figured out: “That DJ was trying to bait you and you took the bait. You know how Kagiso (Lediga) always says one should never pick sides? Today you picked a side.”
We drive around the city for a little while and Gola tells me about his clubbing days as a tall teenager who got past the bouncers. He points out where all the hot spots used to be, but it’s clear that the fact that he is constantly being pressed about politics is still on his mind.
“You have to understand,” he says as he slumps into an L-shaped couch at his favourite Mother City eatery, “dishonesty will haunt you.”
Meaning, he strives to be honest at all times so people aren’t surprised when they come to his shows and get exactly what they’ve seen or heard.
“I don’t want people to misinterpret the tone of the show,” he says. “We’re not anti-ANC. We want the government to do well because that would mean the country is doing well.”
Gola’s critique and take on governance, news and Mzansi politics has seen him anchor the hugely popular Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola,which will return to e.tv for a third season in September.
The lanky Gola has come a long way since being given detention in high school because he said he wanted to be a stand-up comedian when he grew up.
“It’s been an important journey,” says the 28-year-old. “People who’ve watched me through the years know I’m not the same. Before, I used to question my credibility to be allowed to say certain things. Now I ask myself if that’s what I want to say and I say it.”