South African Representation in Netflix Series ‘Comedians of the World’

by Zani Tsabedze

We recently got a chance to check out the entire Comedians of the World series and, across the board, it was a very diverse series that was careful to ensure that it gave a chance for equal representation to take place. All the chosen comedians were also allowed to edit their own specials after filming so that they could choose how their set would be published. Although there were brilliant acts from all the countries, which we thoroughly enjoyed, this post is mainly about the South African acts because that is what we were particularly excited about.

Our entertainment industry is growing and becoming more widespread and internationally recognised. This is rightfully so because we have an incredibly dynamic culture and immense talent throughout the country. For Netflix to select South Africa as one of the 12 countries to be represented in this fantastic series was exciting news and a wonderful opportunity to showcase South African stand-up. The diversity of our culture could use a bigger spotlight in entertainment and this series did that quite well.

The line-up included comedians Riaad Moosa, Loyiso Gola, Tumi Morake and Loyiso Madinga. I was always aware of Moosa, Gola and Morake but this was my first time hearing Loyiso Madinga; and, yet, his set turned out to be my favourite. Madinga’a set was laid back, youthful, intelligent and very dynamic. His accents were on point and his impersonations were uncanny. I was honestly blown away and surprised that I had never heard of him. I would gladly buy a ticket to a Loyiso Madinga stand-up show.

I would’ve liked to review Tumi Morake’s set as she is the first South African female comic to have a set on Netflix. I love that this happened; it is a major Girl Boss move, especially in an industry that is so male-dominated and I am excited to see what it could do for the stand-up scene amongst South African women (who are underrepresented, even in South Africa). However, I can’t say too much about her set mainly because of her style of comedy in particular. She is a beautiful, funny woman that I have a lot of respect for. However, her style of comedy is very extroverted, and high energy, which has never been my cup of tea. I like relaxed, observational stand-up, where the comedian is laid back and it almost feels like a conversation. When a comedian is pacing the stage and almost yelling, I just immediately want it to be over. That’s just my taste, which has nothing to do with the quality of Morake’s stand-up; there is an audience for this style of comedy and Morake is great at it.

The line-up definitely gave Netflix a flavor of the cultural and political awareness in South Africa and our comedians were outspoken and calculated. They unapologetically said things that needed to be said, politically, without isolating the Canadian audience. They entertained and made us very proud.

Zani

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