Comedian Ntosh Madlingozi tells us about 'Sober Sex' and male privilege

Ntosh Madlingozi (Photo: Gallo Images)
Ntosh Madlingozi (Photo: Gallo Images)

Comedian and actor Ntosh Madlingozi has a career spanning sixteen years and on Friday, 28 February he will bring his introspective show, Sober Sex to the Baxter Studio Theatre as part of the Mother City Comedy Festival.

The show which kicks off at 19:15 on Friday, promises big laughs and home truths.For those who might not have experienced it during its first year, The Mother City Comedy Festival returns by popular demand to the Baxter Studio Theatre from until 29 February.

With more than 45 comedians performing in 40 shows over three weeks, it's even bigger than last year. Tickets cost from R120 to R150 and bookings can be made at Webtickets or selected Pick n Pay stores.

Just days of ahead of his show, Channel24 called Ntosh a call and spoke to him openly about his journey through the industry, what audience members can expect from his performance at the festival and what has influenced his stand-up.


As he lamented the extraordinarily hot weather conditions in Cape Town this week, we chat easily about much enjoyable it is when it cools down.

The well-seasoned comedian then explained how he started in comedy. He reminisced: "I started in the comedy industry about fifteen years ago."

Why did he start? He says it was his innate need to entertain. He reflected on his early years: "I was born to entertain; I just didn't figure out my starting point yet. "

He added: "So I did the usual thing – I'm from The Eastern Cape, and education is really important out there – that's why I did the thing of getting my degree and getting an office job, but it didn't really stick. I was like: 'This doesn't feel right to me…'. "

View this post on Instagram

This young man woke up 44 this morning??

A post shared by ntoshmadlingozi (@ntoshmadlingozi) on

When Ntosh makes mention of the fact that he's from the Eastern Cape, his slow and relaxed drawl seems to fit perfectly with the image of a life away from the bright lights of entertainment. But his words contrast that, with such certainty that it's easy to see how his path was always meant to have led him to the big stage where you could make people laugh.

He reflected on a watershed moment during that journey saying: "And then someone suggested to me – I think it was my first or second job – the person was training me for the position I was going to take up. He said to me, 'You know you don't belong here.' And I said to him, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'I can tell you're not a corporate guy. You'll get bored here. You belong in advertising or entertainment. And you won't last more than a year here'."

He went on: "And he was right. I worked exactly a year in that job. And then my best friend, said: 'You know you should try stand up."

View this post on Instagram

Stand Up sitting down ??

A post shared by ntoshmadlingozi (@ntoshmadlingozi) on

Ntosh then expressed the fears that he once had: "At that time I couldn't imagine getting on stage in front of all those people. So, I decided to go watch comedy and go watch this thing in action and really get a look at how it's done. And I watched it for a couple of months. And then I realised, 'this is what I want to do.'"

Then came the big moment that the local funny man will remember forever. He said: "And then I stepped on stage on for the first time on 25 May 2004. And I haven't looked back ever since."

When Ntosh remembers that time, he says that looking up to other comedians really helped him.

He explained about one of his biggest influences: "Loyiso Gola, I liked his ability to take little things, various things, and turn them around. He made me go: 'I never looked at it that way.' He would take very simple things and make them funny. He's really fantastic. "

He then listed another influence: "John Vlismas [because] I really liked his way of storytelling." He elaborated: "What I really liked [about all my different influences] is how they were all different. I wish I could take them all and make it into one person. Yes, I would say my three biggest influences are Loyiso Gola, John Vlismas and Kagiso Lediga."

About how he's incorporating his biggest influences into his live show at The Cape Town Comedy Festival, Ntosh said that he's using his personal experiences to draw on for laughs but also insight. He said: "Sober Sex is about me stopping drinking and finding out who I am. It's more observational content in terms of thinking of people and how they interact with each other. Stuff that I find funny, that people do and once you talk about it, they will admit to it. Quite a lot of it is about male and female dynamics. I talk about how male privilege is actually not a privilege it's a disease. The things that women go through in this life, that we as men, don't know. You hear guys say things like 'You know I get what women go through.' And it's like what do you mean? How could you know something that you've never been through? When you look at the things that women go through on a daily basis, men wouldn't survive. "

He went on: "Yeah [in the show] I touch on quite several things that I notice about society. I set up scenarios and I explain things in a humorous way. But I'm still a comedian, you know, so there's still slapstick stuff in there. A little bit of silliness. It's all these things mashed into one. I take all of this material and weave it together so that it is a kind of journey."

About whether or not he adapts his show to suit a festival crowd, the performer was blunt about his approach, saying: "I'm a very confident person in what I do. Even when I'm doing an ensemble show, where there's different comedians on the line-up, I actually sit and listen to the audience. I listen and then go 'these are the kind of things that they like', but that doesn't change my set. I like to take them on my journey. That's why I never do that [change my set]. But I do like to listen to the other comedians." 

For the full line up of the festival, click here.