Loyiso Gola Breaks Down the State of Our Nation
On August 13, I went over to the Baxter Theatre to hear Loyiso Gola talk about how childhood growth spurts were a problem when it came to shopping for Christmas clothes, the bad teachers he had in school, the way his mother “subtweets” him in her prayers, and bacon. According to Gola, everyone loves bacon and “there must be something in it that calms people down”, so maybe Jewish and Muslim people need to rethink their stance on pork – maybe then they won’t fight each other anymore.
That was the gist of Gola’s State of the Nation Address: there is always a lighter side to politics, and we should go towards that light once in a while. Having a humorous spin put on the news and the serious issues of the day helps to ease tension and panic. The beauty of comedy, after all, is its ability to keep the masses sane. If there was no way to laugh at an issue- well, then…
The news of the days leading up to the show had definitely provided enough material for new jokes. There was a brief mention of Robin Williams and suicide, and when that got a bit of an uneasy response, Gola recovered by saying “hey, you paid R100 for the ticket, so if you’re only going to laugh for R20 that’s your issue. I’m just doing my job.” After that, everyone was much freer.
Gola also made comments about Pallo Jordan, saying that whoever graduates had better make sure to get the papers that prove their qualifications. And, of course, the ongoing Pistorius drama got a mention as well.
Though I was worried that Gola wouldn’t have enough material to go an hour, or that I would feel that the end of the show came too soon, or he would need one more joke, but fail to nail it, by the end of the 2+ hours I was thoroughly impressed. As in, bent over double in my seat, howling with laughter, almost to the point of tears, “impressed”.
This show was better than the one I saw last year at the Joburg Theatre. There was only one repeat joke that I caught (but if something is funny you can repeat as many times as you like, right?) and he knew how to keep the attention of the audience, bringing them back to him after one of the smaller jokes seemed to have gone over some of their heads.
The sentimental “let’s take care of ourselves…” and “we should build the nation – it is our country after all, not anyone else’s …” comments towards the end of the show felt a little out of place. When comedians get serious, I get confused. But then he turned that into one of his last jokes by saying “I have to mention that because there is always some reviewer who will say ‘the only problem is that he didn’t mention anything about building the nation’, so…” Those pesky reviewers, always expecting one man to solve all the world’s problems in one night, eh?
He decided to take questions for the last few minutes, sitting on his stool saying “I feel like chatting today – I feel like I know you all”. That was good- feeling like you’re getting a little extra for your ticket is always good. (Plus he made a joke about how the show has already run over quite a bit, so overtime payments have already kicked in for the Baxter staff – “we might as well use the time properly.”)
Someone asked him how tall he is, and he answered “ 6”2’ ” after saying that he particularly hates talking about how tall he is because kids at school used to say “you’re so tall, you must’ve been born on a long weekend” Kids say such stupid things most of the time- but sometimes those stupid things are also funny.
Someone asked him about his watch, saying “what cool watch is that?” He said “it’s a Casio. What are you – 12?” And that’s when I remembered why I never sit too close to the front or let my laughter get too out of hand at comedy shows: no one is safe – we are all in the firing line!
I can safely say Gola’s was the only State of the Nation Address I’ve had an interest in this year. And if we have enough social commentators like him around, falling behind on the news every now and then is really not such a big problem.