Maybe fame at home has made Gola a little casual; his show didn’t give us any real introduction save for mention that he’s been nominated for two Emmy awards.
I had particular reason to be excited about Dude, Where’s My Lion? The MICF guide mentioned “taboo-busting comedy” and that Gola’s show would offer a “contemporary African perspective on global current affairs and dives deep into the hardship of post-apartheid South Africa”. The lack of this was extremely disappointing.
What we got instead was some pretty reasonable and safe observational comedy. Gola repeated himself a bit making some sections feel flabby, although hopefully later shows will become tighter. He covered a range of topics, with not any overarching theme or links between sections as we’ve come to expect from more ambitious comedians.
The Africans in the house enjoyed some byplay with the performer on their shared experiences, and Gola looked sharp when drawing back the curtain on his job: “Comedy is not an honest sport”. He maintains a laidback charm, flashing cheeky, toothy smiles that make him seem a boy in a man’s body.
It is unfortunate that Gola hasn’t recognised the value of his background to this audience. He has the great novelty of Xhosa upbringing complete with its fascinating clicking language. I enjoyed his brief insights on African culture; unlike Australia, you can’t just insult a person, you have to greet them first. These unpredictable moments highlighted just how standard the rest of the set was by comparison.
Gola didn’t take the ‘Lion’ by the tail, yet, there was the odd flicker of mane in the distance. Had he stuck to his advertised travel plan, I suspect that this would have been a much more thrilling and memorable outing.
Loyiso Gola – Dude, Where’s My Lion?
Powder Room – Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 31 March 2017 – 8.30pm
Season continues to 23 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Loyiso Gola (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte