Own Golaby Zoë Henry / 30.04.2010
Chatting to Loyiso Gola, the hilarious, freakishly tall stand-up comedian is both an entertaining and educational experience. The kid who grew up in Gugulethu and had to walk long miles to school each morning, has become a household name in South African comedy. He now resides in what he confesses to be, a “flashy” apartment in Joburg, and he’s sitting here chatting on his iPhone and quoting the Financial Times. He spouts facts in an authoritative way that makes you want to believe whatever he says, be it what he supposes Fifa is actually up to, or the Jozi life versus Cape Town lifestyle. “People in Joburg are rrrich,” he says, rolling the ‘r’. “People drive cars that cost R6 million. And when they go clubbing, they buy bottles of Dom Perignon at R6000 a pop. Me? I’m all about living the Cape Town lifestyle in Joburg. When we arrived in Cape Town yesterday, my friend was impressed by a Jag. I told him ‘This is Cape Town. Nobody cares.’”
The title of Loyiso’s new show, Coming Home, pretty much lays it out. “It feels great to be home”, he says. “I feel like a new born baby.” His tune seems to have changed somewhat over the past few years. “Whenever I used to come back to Cape Town after spending some time in Joburg, it always seemed really racist, but now, as I’m getting older, I’m thinking Cape Town is actually alright.” Perhaps the City of Gold is losing some of its shine. “Joburg is really materialistic. It’s all about the money up there.”
Sure, Cape Town gets kudos for being beautiful and broke, but the city isn’t without its issues. “We tried to get into the smaller venues [in Cape Town], like the Baxter, to perform, and they’d just say no. We asked to book a time to perform there that was four years from now, and they’d say no. This is why we’re playing the big venues like the Convention Centre now. Yes, it’s risky, but if we wanna perform in Cape Town, it’s the only option we have.” He seems to sway back and forth between being in love and frustrated with his home town, one moment saying that it’s racist, the next stating that those that live here have the good life. “You guys don’t know about traffic. In Joburg there’s traffic at 1pm. It takes a really long time to get anywhere. But even Joburg is nothing compared to Nigeria. They don’t even have traffic lights over there.”
He drifts around the topic of the shocking state of the roads, and how Fifa is excited about hosting the World Cup in a country full of potholes. “This one time I saw this pothole, and they spent money to put up a sign that says ‘Beware of the pothole’. Why not just spend the money on fixing the pothole?” He breaks into a gale of laughter and slaps the side of the table a few times before recovering from his own witty observation. But it’s not long before the conversation shifts back to the differences between Cape Town and Joburg. “The food is also quite different. Like people don’t really eat pap in Cape Town, but in Joburg, you can go to a restaurant and order a R150 steak, and they give you a choice between chips, rice, baked potato and pap to go with your steak. And no one in Joburg knows what a Gatsby is. People in Joburg aren’t really familiar with coloured people from Cape Town. The coloured people in Joburg adopt a lot of slang and style used by black people, like the brand names. Whereas in Cape Town the only brand names coloured people care about are Levi’s and Rothman’s Red.”
Somewhere between the comedic race talk and the comparisons of his home city versus the city that gave him success, there’s a regular guy that plays Xbox to wind down and whose favourite room is the bathroom. A guy that found he had a penchant for making people laugh and decided to make a career out of it, and he’s good at his job.
Catch Loyiso Gola for one night only at the CTICC in Cape Town on Friday 30 April 2010.