Loyiso Madinga Live

Bringing his A-game to the National Arts Festival with ‘Loyiso Madinga Live’. Photo: Kyle Prinsloo/Cue.

On a nippy afternoon during the National Arts Festival, I didn’t know I would be laughing as freely as I did at Loyiso Madinga’s one-man show.

After first watching him perform Broken English, I jumped at the chance to watch him live again – and boy, was it worth it! Madinga, being the well-travelled and worldly-wise professional he is, chose the most hilarious experiences to share with his audience. And we loved it.

His life experiences as a black man with an African upbringing is what piqued Grahamstown-Makhanda’s interest. Madinga warmed up the crowd by first bringing them closer – we had decided to be polite and scatter ourselves in the large venue – inspiring us to do so by thinking about Home Affairs queues. Suffices to say this resonated perfectly with all South Africans in Drill Hall that afternoon.

There’s something about a professional who has travelled abroad to perform – it means that they know where their material works even outside of their home country – and Madinga is one such comedian. He admits (quite to the audience’s amusement) that his land jokes didn’t work everywhere, but the way he captivated the audience with his childhood experiences were hilarious. The sketches take the audience on a self-reflective and contemplative journey into what it truly means to be a South African today. Madinga works audience interactions – and interruptions – into the sketches with such easy grace, it makes the show memorable.

Madinga riffs on technology after an audience member’s phone rang during the show. Photo: Kyle Prinsloo/Cue.

His lively and observant nature shone through as he navigated through his sketches holding the diverse audiences’ hand every step of the way. And when he dropped our hands along the way- those of us who weren’t fluent in IsiXhosa – it was only to teach us what it meant to make his point clearer.

He encourages us to think about South Africa and how we can make our experience of the country better by accepting that not everything works, and then seeing the brighter side of it so we can be a positive influence in society despite its faults.

Madinga is confident, eloquent, and deserving of your attention. Catch him live at his final show during the National Arts Festival on 7 July at 19:00 at Drill Hall.

By Shraddha Patnala