Loyiso Gola is often called “the Jon Stewart of South Africa.” It is an obvious comparison to draw, considering the symmetry of their career arcs. They both started as standup comedians, and eventually became satirical television pundits. The difference is this: Imagine if Jon Stewart were the first person in America to ever satirize the powerful in a TV news format, and remained so for seven years and counting.
“I talk about race because I deal with it on a daily basis.” – Loyiso Gola
Within three months of the first airing of Late Night News, Loyiso’s mock newscast, the show attracted over a million viewers. Now, LNN and Loyiso have become important influences on South Africa’s political consciousness.
Although he is fearless and strongly principled, he is never heavy-handed. In fact, his hands are improbably light, considering his gravitas. Loyiso is an affable guy, often cracking smiles and giggling to himself in the middle of jokes.
Unlike Jon Stewart, Loyiso continues to perform stand-up on top of his anchor duties, and recently played his new one-man show, Professional Black, to packed houses in South Africa. He is also becoming a staple in international comedy festivals, and appears poised to break into other English-speaking markets. At 6’5, he could probably just step over the Atlantic Ocean.
Q&A with Loyiso
What was your worst-ever heckle?
Well I perform in London a lot and the UK is the Mecca of heckling. I don’t enjoy unprompted participation of the audience. So every heckle sucks.
What’s your least-favorite comedy cliché?
That comics are funny all the time, suggesting that you are not a human being.
Best part of being a comic?
The constant sharing of what’s happening in your mind.