Over the years, Africa’s comedic talent has grown immensely, with African talent like Trevor Noah, Riaad Moosa, David Kibuuka and Tumi Morake having enjoyed international fame, many African comedians are well-known and adored for their remarkable sense of humour that attracts audiences from all over the world
“As South Africa commemorates Heritage Month in September and acknowledges the diverse array of cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up this beautiful country, I can’t help but reflect on how much our continent’s comedic landscape has grown over the years and what gives our comedians a distinct flair, setting them apart from others,” said Dillon Khan, vice president at Comedy Central and Creative Services at Viacom International Media Networks Africa
Khan said the current affairs that get us talking also serve as a vehicle for local comedians to generate humour, providing endless content for their stand-up shows. We can often take this freedom of expression for granted, but it reflects the democracy we fought hard for.
“In essence, South Africans are a population that can laugh at ourselves, and particularly through trying circumstances, laughter proves to be the best medicine. This isn’t to say that Africans make light of serious matters, but humour and laughter have uplifted this country during very difficult times,” he said.
In addition to politically-driven content, comedy in South Africa is as colourful and diverse as the people living in it. Boasting 11 official languages, our rainbow nation provides a wide range of exceptional comedians from varying cultures – all with uniquely personal stories to tell and one-of-a-kind perspectives on life.
“Being able to share humorous accounts of these in their mother tongue further contributes to our extraordinary comedic landscape. The popularity of Comedy Central’s Laugh in Your Language is proof that local audiences laugh even harder when comedy is delivered in a language that they have grown up with,” Khan said.
Another example of a show that has flourished due to a distinctly South-African flavour is Most Ridiculous. Originally a UK-born series, local host SuzelleDIY brings an element of innocence and fun to the South African version of the show and her celebrity guests, including Kurt Darren, Pearl Thusi, Amor Vittone, Danny K and Jason Goliath, add various personalities, languages, perspectives and personal experiences to the show.
“Our brand of comedy has evolved greatly and is also no longer confined to stage and mic. Rising online stars and YouTube sensations like SuzelleDIY, Lasizwe Dambuza and Coconut Kelz resonate with vastly different audiences yet all succeed in their respective spaces – proving once again that diversity in language, content and delivery are king,” said Khan.
This year, The Roast of AKA had a plethora of talent on the stage including African music star, Davido, which has inspired Comedy Central to take the franchise to other parts of the continent in the coming year allowing them to engage with audiences and talent in other markets.
“We are about to launch and be part of a global edition of a successful online series called Comedians Solve World Problems which will put content we shot with local comedians like Mojak Lehoko, Lihle Msimang, Gavin Kelly, Thabiso Mhlongo, to name but a few, in front of audiences across Europe and the Middle East.”
As a one-stop destination for comic relief, Khan said Comedy Central believes in laughter for all cultures and ethnic backgrounds of South Africa. We are proud of how far local comedy has come and will continue to support African talent and their growth beyond the continent.