Mashabela Galane has made a name for himself with his unique, side-splitting brand of comedy
Having won a Savanna Comics’ Choice Award twice and boasting showcases and appearances in Strictly Vernac (DVD), Opening Guys (Mzansi Magic), Teenagers on the Move (SABC1), District 9 and Invictus (both Hollywood), Galane has earned his stripes in the comedic industry.
He has performed all over Southern Africa, including Lesotho and Botswana, on his well-known Botsisa Papago Tour, alongside a fellow comedian.
He’s had shows at the Durban ICC and the State, Lyric, Soweto, Market and Baxter theatres. His highlight so far was a sold-out show at the Big Top Arena at Carnival City, which was recorded for the DVD, Rock the Mother Tongue. Destiny MAN had an exclusive conversation with the rising comedian.
When did you realise you had a gift for comedy?
I’m a very quiet person off stage, a man of very few words. But I’ve always connected with a crowd or audience. Back in high school, I’d always make fun of the teachers and fellow students; they’d all laugh at my jokes, but one on one, I had very little to say. I think that’s when I realised that I needed a mic and stage.
What separates a funny person from a straight-up comedian?
Funny people are funny naturally, there’s no effort put into it. Whatever they say or do is just funny. Comedians are funny and smart; it’s very strategic. You have to be aware of your audience or rather how to convey something in a funny manner. You have to know how to win over your audience and anticipate their reactions. It’s not easy to win over an audience. I engage more with them during my sets and that grabs them. Being funny does play a role, though.
In what situations do you usually come up with your best jokes?
I have something called #PapagoUnplugged that I mostly do in the car and it’s mostly about current affairs, public interest or whatever has people talking at that particular moment. I enjoy being around people and just observing them. A lot of my jokes are about day-to-day activities and experiences. Also, when that one person tries to share a gag and it doesn’t work, I think of a spin to make it work.
What do you like to do to get yourself ready for a performance?
I don’t really have a ritual or anything like that. I normally just peep at the audience and get a feel for the crowd. I’m hardly ever nervous – more excited, rather. I always look foward to getting the mic in my hand and laughing with my audience. I do hype myself up. I’m my own biggest hype man. I always say to myself: “I’ve got this, I’m going to kill it, Satan is not going to show off.”
Where’s your favourite place to do comedy?
Funerals. I’m kidding. Intimate settings, where the audience is composed of ordinary people who are out for a good laugh. I enjoy a crowd who get that comedy is exactly that, comedy. It isn’t about who you are or what you do. We all just came out to have a good laugh and have a good time. I also enjoy it when I perform for people who are good sports, because a lot of the time, I walk among them and make jokes.
Do you think vernacular comedians get enough love in SA?
Love, yes. Recognition, not so much. Vernacular comedians are not as recognised as the mainstream guys. It’s therefore harder to get sponsorship, partners and advertising. We have to work harder to get the recognition, but vernacular comedy is growing and people who come to the shows are extremely loyal and show a huge amount of love and appreciation.
Are there any things you would never joke about?
I joke about everything. I feel comedy gives you the opportunity to address “serious issues”. We need to laugh about life more. There are enough morbid things going on in the world as it is. There are a lot of “sensitive” issues or things that people feel uncomfortable talking about. With comedy, I get to address these and take people out of their comfort zones to see the lighter side of what society would normally categorise as “sensitive”. It also helps to address such things because it raises awareness too.
Is there any joke you regret telling on stage?
Not particularly, but I’ve had an instance where I was performing at venue that had a casino and a lady threw a glass at me after I made a joke about her losing money gambling. My attempt at reducing her stress levels was clearly not successful.
Is there any joke you heard that you wish you had come up with?
Not that I can think of. I think every comedian has their own style of comedy, so no. We each have a different way of interacting with the audience, so we could all have similar content or ideas, but articulate it in a different manner.
Who are your top five comedians dead or alive?
Thats a hard one. If I had to choose: John Vlismas, Roni Modimole, Sammy Fever, Katt Williams and Bernie Mac.
BY KIBO NGOWI, Destiny Man