Rising star Loyiso Madinga captivates audiences with his own realness-styled comedy, as part of The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival line-up – now in its 13th year – at the Baxter Theatre.
Madinga knows how to package a joke to hit the funny mark, especially with his history in advertising, which he candidly admits not liking much once he found himself in that professional realm, even though it seemed appealing as a career choice at first. He ventured into the advertising world as he wanted a creative outlet, but was also looking for a way to make a living. Ultimately, that world wasn’t for him and after five years comedy became his creative calling. And how lucky for the public and South Africa’s entertainment industry that he made that move!
The time spent in advertising wasn’t a waste though. Madinga admits that he learnt a lot from that quick career detour, especially when it comes to effectively packaging an idea. He shares that it showed him how “to sell ideas to people... learning how to get an idea across to as many people as possible... help them understand something the way you see it. That definitely informs how I approach comedy.”
From that learning platform he propelled onto the stage when he won the Graça Comedy Showdown in 2012 and but two years later walked away with The Savanna Newcomer bragging rights. Thereafter he joined the late night satirical news series Late Night News with Loyiso Golo (LNN), and now 2017 sees him releasing his debut comedy special Born Free-ish on DVD. If one could put forward a person as definition for ‘burst onto the comedy scene’, Madinga would definitely be it!
“I’ve always been surprised in what I get to do”, he very humbly reveals. “When I joined LNN, I didn’t expect to get to do that so soon in my career... I think I spent the first few episodes just going ‘why did they get me here, everyone is so smart and informed, I’m just an idiot’, so I have always been surprised whenever things like that have happened. But I think I know what I want to do with comedy, so for me it just seems it’s still a long road to where I want to be. Yeah, but I appreciate where I am now for sure. Being invited to this festival is pretty damn good! Pretty flippin awesome!”
Though the work he did on LNN was greatly influenced by satire and sketch comedy, Madinga doesn’t see himself as a satirist. “I’m not a satirist per se, like I don’t care about politics. I just don’t care to comment on politics in any kind of in-depth way. I prefer social commentary, people, things we do, culture, race, all that kind of stuff, but more like on a personal level.”
He prefers to bring his comedy to stage in a relatable manner. “I grew up rural,” Madinga shares, “so saying that, you may think ‘I can’t relate to rural life’, but then I just enjoy talking about it, finding a way to tell the story from my perspective of having grown up in the Eastern Cape and stuff like that. So I’m not Seinfeld who can make a spoon funny.”
Fellow Funny Festival showman and comedic magician Paul Dabek interjects, “I think you do – not to put words in your mouth – but I think you point out stuff that’s funny. I’ve watched your set twice now and you take some very simple observations, the white-line bit for example, something that’s so simple and you make it really, really funny.” Festival Organiser, Eddy Cassar, adds with reference to Madinga’s white-line joke (not giving too much away), “he paints it so nicely, so true to what’s happening today, that it’s very clever”.
Madinga, very bashful about his talent, is undoubtedly not only funny but also a very intelligent comic who entertains audiences in a manner and to such a standard that his peers truly admire and appreciate his unique comedic style too. “I think as a comic you don’t really question what you are doing", he reflects, "it is just finding the funny in something”. He admits to following his natural instinct when it comes to identifying what to work into his material. In observing every day life, “something just hits you”.
He does not take anything for granted, nor does he regard comedy as a career as something one should take lightly, because comedy “is really hard. You spend so many nights crafting the thing and working on it, trying to get the right jokes out. You die so many times onstage in front of people… it’s not a joke in that way. It’s a lot of serious work to get to the point where it is just funny.”
In preparing to step onto stage Madinga is ever aware of the fact that no audience, town or venue is the same. “Comedy differs because it is always informed by your context. Also, Joburg’s scene is a lot more developed in terms of clubs and gigs and the audience growing to know where these happen and supporting and being regulars at places. So there is a difference in both audiences and the type of comedy that comes out of Joburg and Cape Town… Durban, East London and PE. Which is cool. It gives audiences variety whenever an act from out of town comes in.”
Madinga is not only known to South African audiences though. He has also stepped onstage internationally, with a recent appearance at the Montreux Comedy Festival (Switzerland), where he describes the audiences as “super polite… you think you are dying onstage and people are actually enjoying the hell out of your set”. In comparison, he really likes his local audiences for their special honesty appeal: “There [in Montreal] you know you did well when they give you a light applause. Here when they give you a light applause it means 'get offstage, this is weird for everyone now'. But I’ve also seen guys in South Africa laugh so hard they run out of the room! The difference in energy is insane.”
Just from the positive response to the first week of the Funny Festival, it is safe to say that Madinga has certainly not been on the receiving end of any light applause, but rather loads of laughter from delighted audiences.
Bringing that funny to the stage, the place where he feels comfortable, also has its own personal appeal for Madinga. He doesn’t deny feeling nervous though, especially when friends and family are in the audience. However, on a normal performance night, nerves are but part of the process: “Before, nerves, but once I’m onstage it’s a comfortable place… unless it’s a night you’re bombing, but that’s also fun! In the beginning bombing onstage is really tough, and you don’t know what to do. And then, after a while, some nights you find the fun in figuring it out while you’re onstage, and you go ‘How can I win them back?’ That’s fun now for me.”
Listening to his passion for comedy, the respect for his audience and the commitment with which he talks about his craft, it is clear that embracing the fun in the whole experience is key to Madinga, “I’m always having fun! I don’t know about the audience”, he jests, “but I’m always having fun!”
Now he brings that fun to Cape Town as part of The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, adding his fresh perspective and real-life comedy commentary to the first half of the festival's run until 22 July 2017.
So grab your tickets at Computicket and join him and the rest of the amazing performers onstage at the Baxter Theatre. Go marvel in the magic of laughter in what Madinga describes as a festival that feels like a true show in every sense of the word, packed with entertainment from beginning to end!