The Funny Chef thrilled to be joining OPW despite fears about bodyshaming and being compared to others

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Lebogang ‘The Funny Chef’ Tlokana makes her debut on Our Perfect Wedding on the 6th March.
Lebogang ‘The Funny Chef’ Tlokana makes her debut on Our Perfect Wedding on the 6th March.

She's quick on her feet, outrageously funny and does wonders in the kitchen. 

Lebogang ‘The Funny Chef’ Tlokana is set to bring her Pretoria wit to the new season of Our Perfect Wedding and will be joining current host Nomsa Buthelezi for season 12 of Our Perfect Wedding.

The comedian and chef joins the show after fan favourites Ayanda Mpama, Khanyisa Titus, Kayise Ngqula, Tumi Morake, Thembisa Nxumalo (Mdoda), Vele Manenje, Pumeza Mdabe have brought their own signature pizzazz to make the show a hit. Now Lebogang plans to bring her own flavour to the popular Sunday show.

“I look forward to how South Africa is going to welcome me. I am quite nervous about it. I don’t know how to feel. I don’t think I’m yet excited. But I will get the hang of it,” she tells Drum.

“I’m overthinking, and I’m worried about what people will people think of me. I worry about bodyshaming and how being judged on looks on Twitter is a trend these days. That’s the only thing stopping me from being overly excited.”

Lebo has many concerns playing in her head, but she plans to give it her all despite the worries. 

“I mean I stay up all night wondering what people are going to say. But I think it’s normal to be nervous and I look the way I look, and I can’t change it. The shaming will always be there, but I’m worried about my presenting being compared to previous presenters,” she says.

"Everyone knows I struggle with isiZulu. But I am hoping people will be welcoming because I have big shoes to fill from your Nomsa to Tumi Morake and Thembisa, and here comes a random girl from Pretoria out here trying to make it. I think about how South Africa is going to receive me,” she adds.

In her presenting she plans to bring comedy and seriousness.

“It’s a mix of both. I also can’t bring too much SiPitori because some people will not understand but I plan to add my character and my slang here and there. My Pretorian lingo kicks in at random times and often in funny moments.”

Before OPW, Lebogang hosted SABC 1 cooking show Plate It Up.

“We are waiting for season two. But there is also another cooking show coming up on DStv in the pipeline that I cannot divulge as yet, but there is a lot in store.”

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She has always been funny and made friends and family laugh.

“I’m a clown naturally, “she says.

“I love making people laugh and things are just a circus in my head. So, I figured If I am the donkey of the group, I might as well make a living out of it and turn it into an occupation.”

She started doing comedy skits and commentary around 2010 for her social media followers but it was only in 2018 that she decided to do stand-up comedy.

“I did stand-up here and there up until we were hit by Covid-19, and we had to put it on pause.”

But she plans to continue once she is done shooting Our Perfect Wedding.

She says she'd find it hard to choose a favourite between cooking and comedy.

“I can never choose. I love cooking, I just don’t like catering for hundreds of people. Comedy and food just merged. But I will see how it goes. I don’t have plans; I am really just going with the flow.”

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She was born in Soweto, then lived in the North West before moving to Limpopo. “I then moved to Pretoria and went to an Afrikaans school where I was the only black student. I spoke Afrikaans fluently but never quite fitted in,” she says.

Life was not easy, but she pushed through. “Life was tough. But when I eventually went to an English school, I couldn’t speak a word of English and failed high school twice and faked my report because I was promised Carvela shoes if I passed,” she jokes.

Her academic performance brought much disappointment to her family, but she had to prove to them and herself that she could achieve anything she wanted. “I had a few struggles, but I fought until I found something I loved, “she says.

After high school, Lebogang studied marketing. “But I couldn’t find a job and at the time trying to market anything while you’re considered overweight was rare. How was I going to market alcohol or gym membership with my body type? So I sat at home for a year or two and that is when I fell in love with the Food Network (channel) and cooking.”

Her dad saw her love for food and gave her one last chance by allowing her to experiment with cooking and paying for her fees to attend a culinary school. 

“That was his last year working. So it all worked out. I got my qualification in food and beverage and studied with The South African Chefs Association. Afterwards, I worked at hotels and different Korean restaurants.”

Her career as a chef was going well until one of her videos started trending in 2018 and she had to leave her job to pursue comedy.

“Things started happening, I was getting more gigs and making more money than I was as a chef and today we are here, “she says.

Looking back at the tough times, Lebogang is proud of how far she has come.

“I get my source of inspiration from the girl I used to be 16 years ago. We went through a lot to get to where we are today. That girl believed in herself. She knew something was going to come up but didn’t know when and how. If I were to go back to her, I would pat her on the back and say, you did it.”

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