I spent half of the show distracted by Loyiso Gola’s pants.
If I was a stand-up comedian I would definitely mock those pants. I mean look, I was a teenager in the ‘80s so I’ve worn some pretty ridiculous shit in my time. Black Chinese slippers with yellow socks and baggy black ninja pant ensemble. Remember those? Loose fitting shirts by Karl someone-or-other made of disparate brightly patterned material? Still have one – classic. Neon jumpsuits like you just walked out of a Koeberg meltdown? Stovied school pants so tight they’d make a Cape Town hipster at Truth coffee shop look outdated – and don’t forget the tucked-in jerseys in winter.
If I managed to con my parents into buying it, or saved up enough pocket money to afford it, or could sew it myself, I wore it. But I never wore pants with a crotch that made me look like I was carrying my morning dump around in them.
Look, if you’re going to go for the low-crotch look, go all the way. MC Hammer it man. Put that crotch down by your ankles and do the drop-pant shuffle down the street. Make a statement. The 10cm below your testicles I’m-with-it-but-not-too-out-there effort is just lame and uncommitted. I’ve also never understood why anyone would wear their shirt with the top button closed if they’re not wearing a tie. At an investment bank job interview. Perhaps they didn’t attend a school where wearing a tie-with-top-button-done-up was mandatory. Some rebellions are lifelong.
He spoke quite a bit about school, returning to the subject often enough to make me think school was a filler while he tried to remember funnier trains of thought. For given how unforgivingly hilarious school experiences are (in hindsight), his school material was singularly unfunny. The best he gave was a demonstration of a dry peanut butter sandwich getting stuck in the throat.
If Gola has had some professional drama classes, he didn’t pay attention. He fidgets on stage. Combine this with ill-thought fashion choices and you lose audience focus.
He continually touches his nose (what were you doing to boost confidence before coming on stage, Loyiso?) and puts palm to forehead, and fiddles with his water bottle, and while waiting for laughter to quieten mutters “that’s cool man. Cool”. He’s got an incredibly mischievous face and wonderfully elegant limbs but his delivery lets him down. Acting lessons might be a good investment.
As for his humour, he got nowhere on the subject of fatties (‘cause inside all of us is a fat person trying to get out, right?) but most of his runs found laughter, if not the occasional bout of guffaws, although I suspect the audience was being rather kind, they wanted to like him. His take on Oscar Pistorious, which was an offshoot of the difference expectations whites and blacks have of ever ending up in jail (never in the case of whites, over breakfast in the case of blacks) raised a chuckle from me. Also in his favour was – despite getting laughs out of the peculiarities of different races (what South African comic can avoid that one?) – a lack of racism, sexism or chauvinism, which is, unfortunately, an achievement. But overall I personally found his trains of thought rather pedestrian. I kept expecting him to dig deeper into certain subjects, I saw shining nuggets to be mined which he left untouched. Label me pretentious if you like but I laugh hardest when my mind is being engaged, when unseen or unnoticed connections between ideas are thrown around. I like it best when references start going over my head, clever people turn me on, they make me curious.
Literature particularly is a rich library to loan from and I’ve attended academic lecturers in which I laughed more than I did at Gola’s opening. Ok. Yes. I was laughing alone. I realise my sense of humour does not make me the ideal audience member but I got the impression Gola doesn’t read much. I may be wrong, stand up is a bit like advertising, it goes for the lowest common denominator. I loathe advertising.
But if you enjoy adverts, if you find yourself unwittingly saying things like “it’s not inside, it’s on top” when someone asks you where the milk is, Gola will show you a good time. Everyone else seemed to have to be having it. — Steve Kretzmann
Catch him at the Baxter Theatre until Saturday November 23.