Eugene Khoza stands up to Zuma supporters

2013-10-27 10:00

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Comedian Eugene Khoza tells Lesley Mofokeng he will continue to tell jokes about the president despite criticism from Zuma supporters

Eugene Khoza makes no bones about his displeasure at the controversy-prone Jacob Zuma. This week, the president surprised many when he declared that Joburg’s future e-toll users should not think like Africans in Africa. And it’s unfortunate statements like these that get Khoza hopping mad.

“Comedians are always blamed for trashing the president, but do the critics ever send the president an SMS to say, ‘You are trashing yourself’?” he asks.

Khoza has always come under fire from supporters of the president for his political gags.

“People must get it through their thick heads that we are not going to stop talking about politics. You must not think that your guy with a big head is the most important guy in the world. He is not the party; he just happens to be at the helm of the f**king sh*t that is going on there,” he charges.

We’re sitting on the patio of the swanky Winston Hotel in Rosebank to talk about Pardon Me, his upcoming solo show. But the funnyman with dimples is not laughing.

Quite the opposite. He’s fed up.

“What must we talk about? I’m so frustrated. People vote every five years for people to take care of their children’s future and they complain about me, a citizen like them. Oust him, not me.

“I am not anti anyone, but we can’t have planes landing in key national security points and our leader says nothing.”

As the conversation continues, we change gears and get to talking about Khoza’s dramatic slimdown.

He has a two-year sabbatical to thank for the weight loss.

“I stopped working, so I didn’t have people calling me to say that I am late or that tickets are not selling, which is when I stress out and eat a pie.

“I also found that I did gigs that I hated and afterwards, because I resented myself so much, I would go to McDonald’s at 3am,” he confesses.

“Basically, all I did was wake up, take a walk, do a few press-ups, eat healthy, especially steak, sleep if I want to, watch TV ... all of this for two years.

“It wasn’t an overnight thing because the first year I had to get my mind right. The second year was when I lost weight.”

And now, 18kg lighter, Khoza has a spring in his step.

Of course, being the face of that multimillion-rand ad campaign for a major bank probably adds a little extra spring too.

But he’s dead serious about his comedy. His forte has always been politics and relationships, and that script is not about to change with the new show.

His fans, who have been waiting for a fix since March, will be getting one next month.

“I never understood why comics have to wait for a year to stage their shows.

If you like watching Chiefs and Pirates, Irvin Khoza and that other guy make sure you can enjoy the derby every three months.

“If people enjoy my shows, why should they wait a year to see me again?”

He says the name of the show is meant to rewrite the rules.

“I’m saying pardon me, sorry guys for disturbing your moves of having a show once a year?...”

He insists that as a comedian he has to respond to the demands of his fans.

“I don’t like doing clubs. I like watching Isibaya and MasterChef, so I couldn’t be bothered to go to clubs. I want the floor to myself and I can’t do ensembles,” he says bluntly.

Khoza believes there is a shortage of authentic comedians who say their say, but are also likeable.

“I have seen how comedians can be arrogant with their audience. I have watched other comedians and found it hard to laugh. I didn’t understand what they were saying.

“Which planet are you from, Def Jamland? Cause I want to go there to Live Apollo-land when you copy those UK comics, their demeanour and how they speak. You are trying to be a Jimmy Carr here, but you’re wasting your time.

“You can’t win people over by being too worldly, too smart or make them feel too dumb.”

»?Pardon Me is on at the Brooklyn Theatre in Pretoria on November 2 and at The Lyric theatre in Joburg on November 8 and 9

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