Tats Nkonzo, Loyiso Madinga and Robby Collins on upcoming Joburg International Comedy Festival shows

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Loyiso Madinga, Robby Collins and Tats Nkonzo talk to Drum.
Loyiso Madinga, Robby Collins and Tats Nkonzo talk to Drum.
Oupa Bopape/Gallo/Instagram/@robbycollins_/@tatsn

They are among South Africa's most popular comics and set to have us in stitches with new material born out of lockdown at the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival (JICF).

Tats Nkonzo, Loyiso Madinga and Robby Collins, the comedians behind the The Dope Ass Podcast, offer a glimpse of what's in store as live comedy shows make a comeback.

“Festivals are very great for comedy lovers, it is like binging on that film that you love," Loyiso says. "So, for the comedy lovers, the festival is a nice congregation of who you might not know or even met yet. You just immerse yourself because you can watch two, three shows a day, so it is that variety and discovery. I think people have been starving for comedy and this one is going to be extra with it.”

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When asked what it was like working under the lockdown regulations, the comedian says: “As the kids would say ‘I am busy working on my mental health.' [As comedians] we are entertainers and people only get the happy versions of us. So it is very easy for one to think we are only happy and for the comedian to also lie to themselves about how happy they actually are or to need comedy to maintain some semblance of normality or joy, but in real life they are struggling. It is like a drug. Comedy can be a drug.”

As the world tries to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, Robby looks back on a time when he could not be on the stage and be surrounded by people.

“The most difficult part of the pandemic is that we all needed each other especially in the early stages," says Robby. "Apart from being a comedian and being paid for doing something I love, it’s the appreciation for the people that come out and support us. The hardest part was not being around people.” 

One thing Robby loves about being South African is people’s ability to turn pain into laugher. “It’s a beautiful thing when people can look at us as people who create from our pain. I think that’s a beautiful thing about South Africans, we know how to turn all the hardcore stuff that we go through, and we make it beautiful comedy and we unite.”

When asked what topics he steers clear away from in comedy, Robby says: “There are certain subjects that I won’t touch on, for instance, with the crime happening in our country like rape, which is a pandemic on its own.

"You can’t just bring that up or make a joke about it, someone in the audience might be dealing with that trauma.”
Comedian Robby Collins

As much as it’s all fun and jokes, the arts deserve respect, Robby adds. “People got through the pandemic because of the arts and its sad that it doesn’t get respected. People love artists when they have made it, but very few people support artists from the beginning. It’s a sad thing we don’t respect artist, but they keep our lives’ going.”

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People will stop saying they don't know any funny comedians in SA after the festival, predicts Tats. “The festival is an opportunity to literally see all the best stand-up comedians in the city and these are the comics that are going to stop South Africans from making excuses about ‘they do not know any funny comedians’ except for the ones they know.” 

The media personality who also opened up about his journey on Temptation Island SA says, for him, this year is about “going bare”.

Temptation Island “was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime, so for me that is what it was about . . . I wanted to go have this experience, I wanted to find love, just as a person.” Tats says his presence on the reailty show marked the beginning of him going bare and not hiding who he is as a person just because he is in the public eye.

“One of the biggest things I had to go through was not caring too much about what people think; about the fact that Tats Nkonzo – whatever that means… is going on a show like this.

"So for me it was the beginning of going bare, in terms of not hiding who I want to be or not hiding what I want to do and just doing it.

"That is what going bare means. It means just because I am in the public eye, I accept that, but it will not rule how I live my life. So that was the whole part of going naked and the whole slogan of going bare this year.”
Comedian Tats Nkonzo

The Johannesburg International Comedy Festival takes place from 24-29 March 2022 at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton and the Theatre on The Square with a line-up including the likes of Jason Goliath, Mpho Popps, Suhayl Essa, Tracey-Lee Oliver, Isabella Jane, KG Mokgadi, Ndumiso Lindi, Thabiso Mhlongo, Bash with Tash and Rob van Vuuren. Continental acts Salvado from Uganda, Q Dube from Zimbabwe and South Sudan's Akau Jambo have also been confirmed.

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