‘This feels like a disappointment’: comedian Loyiso Gola on his new Netflix show | Comedy

I.Not every day a comedian can say he has made history. Loyiso Gola, whose new Netflix show – the first ever standup special from Africa – took a step forward this week. But if you’re looking for a little pride or excitement about that, Gola isn’t your man. “It makes sense,” he admits, after a slight turn of an arm. “But for me, I have never seen it as an African act. I always thought of myself as a global act. ”

You can see why. Based part-time in London (pre-pandemic, at least), Gola is a veteran of a panel show in the UK, and regularly calls what he calls “those glorious festivals around the world”. His 2018 version of the Apollo version, which was viewed 1.5m times online, had a huge impact on British audiences – about Brexit, among other things. (“You’re trying to leave Europe. Where are you going? Because you’re not welcome in Africa!”) With one Netflix gig in advance under his belt, -South, Gola hopes that a special one-on-one will confirm that international appeal. “I’m really crazy,” he told me, moving from Johannesburg. “This feels like a progressive record. Sometimes you get the feeling that you are coming. ”

This exhibition, filmed at the Zeitz Museum of African Contemporary Art in his hometown of Cape Town, is called Unlearning; It was created by Gola six years ago. It seems to be about “debunking what we learned growing up, looking at the world differently and not getting involved in it. their own stereotypical minds ”- although you could just look for Gola ‘s tales of playing hide-and-seek in a white friend’s house and fun facts about seafood and engagement rings. His comments are light-hearted – but fittingly, says Gola, who was blown away, reviving the show for Netflix, given how appropriate it felt at the time of a re-evaluation of social norms. .

He is not among those comics who personally suffer from the new censorship. “I don’t think you should just say anything,” he says. “You should take full responsibility for your words.”

“If standup is about punching,” he says, the problem comes when “the biggest actors in the world are part of the 1%. Your authority to make a punch is in jeopardy. I love Ricky Gervais, but it seems: you are part of the 1%. Let’s talk about that. You just can’t forget it. ”Anyway, said Gola,“ there’s a heavy reorganization going on right now, and that’s uncomfortable for some. But I think this is the best time. I like it. ”

Although only 37, Gola has been standing for 20 years, taking on a school work experience program. Among relatives, he is best known as the face of Late Night News, the South African version of The Daily Show. Twice nominated for international Emmy awards, he may have founded Gola as another Trevor Noah. But when I ask if he would prefer to be a world actor or a major satirist in South Africa, do not be lazy. “That is the choice done, ”He says. “There is no way I can focus on one place. ”

That’s not just about his global ambitions. It’s about his professional philosophy. “As a comedian, the better you are taken away. When you study a sarcastic show, you immerse yourself in politics, there is a lot of information. But I don’t want that. I do not want specific knowledge from the minister who emailed me. I want to find out as much as, and not beyond, the man on the street. ”

Waiting for Unlearning’s success, says Gola, the dream is, “if I go to Norway or Chicago or Nairobi, people will buy tickets to see my next hour of standup”. He admits that lockdown has shaken his faith in that globe-trotting modus operandi. “I now understand,” said this nominee so far, “I always like the idea of ​​being in cities, I don’t like the mechanics themselves. The inward study, the study, not knowing the language. Covid has made me go: do I really want to do that? ”(He doesn’t like Zoom gigs, however:” I did one, and I stopped. It’s definitely not from me. “)

But by the end of our interview, his wanderlust is back. He wants to be “in London,” he said, “where I can do four clubs in one night, 12 gigs on a weekend. That’s what makes me better as an actor. And that’s what I’m worried about. ”

“I don’t want to be a writer. I don’t want to do a sitcom or another TV skate show. My decisions are based on trying to be better all the time. Some of the things you shoot at in your career will make you money, or they will give you more experience. But they don’t make you better. And my obsession is growing as a better actor. ”

Unlearning is out now on Netflix.