The brainchild of SAFTA award-winning comedian Mamello ‘Mum-Z’ Mokoena, the Cape Town Comedy Strip was recently launched on Long street. We chatted to Mum-Z about his experience as a South African comedian, and his exciting, new venture.
What made you get into comedy?
When I was travelling, I saw a clothing store called Comedy. I was looking through the window at the clothes and wasn’t sure if I wanted to get into the shop because the style of the clothes seemed outdated, but then it started raining and that’s why I got into Comedy. #lol.
No, on a serious note, I got into comedy because I was a theatre actor in my school and university days, and got an amazing reaction from audiences for my comedic cameos. The next step from there was seeing if I could hold the attention of an audience on my own. I could, so I did stand up.
Where do you get your motivation from?
Friends, family and personal experiences. Most people try to surround themselves by what they consider to be ‘normal’ or ‘down-to-earth’ people. I am blessed to be surrounded by crazy, loud, opinionated friends and family and any clash of ideas is fertile soil for comedy.
What advice can you give to up-and-coming comedians?
My advice to budding comedians is, if you are in it for the money, rather become a stock broker. But if you are in it for the love of making people laugh, then perform as much as you can, write as much as you can, grow your social media footprint, watch as much live comedy as possible, network with as many comedians as possible and don’t be scared to have a unique voice. Dare to be different.
How did the idea of Cape Town Comedy Strip come along?
The old Zula Bar on Upper Long Street (where Sgt Pepper currently is) was the home of comedy in the Cape Town CBD. It was the first comedy club that I performed at when I moved to Cape Town and it was run, at the time, by the late Rustum August. He inspired me to run another comedy gig on Long Street at Purple Turtle and, between our two gigs, comedy was alive on Long Street.
When Rustum August passed away, there was a void in the Cape Town Comedy circuit and it reflected in the gradual decline of comedy on Long Street. Two years after his death, I thought that it would be a pity to let comedy on Long Street die with Rustum, and that in order to honour a true champion of the Cape Town Comedy industry we needed to revive comedy on Long Street. And not just bring it back, but bring it back bigger and better.
What can Capetonians expect from these comedy evenings?
A comedy night should make people feel a mixture of emotions. 25% of comedy should shake people’s core and make them challenge their own beliefs, sometimes even get them worked up a bit, and the other 75% should be entertaining, funny and an escape from any number of life’s downers.
This is what people can expect from the comedy evenings, but all the venues have food available, table seating, stocked bars and separate smoking sections, so essentially people should just expect to have a great night out with their mates.
But remember, expectation is the root of all disappointment, so I will say that they can expect to have a nice night so that when they realise that they actually had a OMG-this-was-so-amazing night, then they will be pleasantly surprised.
Which comedians will feature?
All the comedians that perform on the Cape Town Comedy Strip can be found on www.capetowncomedystrip.co.za. There are so many but some great acts to look out for include Rob van Vuuren, Schalk Bezuidenhout, KG, Dylan Skews, Tracy Klass, Stuart Taylor, Mel Jones, Peter Sserwanga, Mum-Z, Angel, Carl Weber and Joey Lee.
What do you hope to get out of the Cape Town Comedy Strip?
I would like to bring a new culture into the bloodstream of Long Street. Long Street has bars, lounges, music, clubs and restaurants, but what was missing since Rustum August passed away was comedy … until now.
In what way do you hope the Cape Town Comedy Strip will affect the South African entertainment industry as a whole?
The Cape Town Comedy Strip will provide a place for international comedians to come and perform in Cape Town in the heart of the CBD.
Joey Lee (a comedian from New York) is affiliated to the Cape Town Comedy Strip and has many contacts in American comedy, which will be a great opportunity for American and other international acts to share their comedic views with local Capetonians.
This will also provide a networking opportunity for local comedians who are hoping to further their careers abroad. A cultural exchange of artistic talent is always at the core of progressive entertainment so if the Cape Town Comedy Strip can do that, while providing Capetonians with an amazing alternative form of entertainment on Cape Town’s most famous street, then that will make me happier than a Western Province fan seeing the Stormers win the Currie Cup at Newlands.