COM­EDY is no joke

Women in stand-up.

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Meet­ing Then­jiwe

Imeet Then­jiwe Mose­ley on a cold au­tumn morn­ing the day ahead of her ap­pear­ance in her friend and fel­low “laugh tech­ni­cian” Ce­leste Ntuli’s show, Home Af­fairs 2, at The Lyric. I had met her be­fore, as a com­mit­ted con­sumer of her hi­lar­i­ous YouTube videos, es­pe­cially her #MySan­go­maIsTheBest clip, which I will show to any and ev­ery­one who says they haven’t seen it.

The KwaZulu-Natal-born lawyer-turned-come­di­enne says she took a round­about jour­ney to a full-time com­edy ca­reer. She has just re­turned from the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, where she was per­form­ing, and where she was hon­oured by The Pro­duc­ers Net­work, which recog­nised her as a tal­ented emerg­ing pro­ducer.

“I’m old, but also new [to the in­dus­try]. I stud­ied drama at Natal Tech­nikon aaaaages ago, and grad­u­ated in 1998 – then started in com­edy, but there was no com­edy scene re­ally, so it wasn’t work­ing out. I went to Amer­ica to work as an au pair in 2000 and then went to Eng­land, where I ended up stay­ing longer than I had planned. I stud­ied in Eng­land be­cause I wanted a real job.” But is com­edy not a real job? She laughs and says: “Uyabona, this men­tal­ity ekhaya that you need to get a real job ... so I stud­ied law and got a real job. But I still wanted to talk and still wanted to stand in front of peo­ple and get a bit of at­ten­tion-nyana.” She prac­tised law for a few years. “I went back on stage in Novem­ber 2012. I was ac­tu­ally out with my other learned friends and we went to a com­edy club and they kept say­ing: ‘You can do this! Get on stage!’” One of her friends did the right thing and spoke to the pro­mot­ers be­hind her back, ask­ing them to give Mose­ley a fiveminute slot.

“I went on and never looked back,” she says.

When she be­came a fi­nal­ist in the UK’s Funny Women com­edy awards, she re­alised this was what she was sup­posed to be do­ing with her life. She quit law at the end of 2013.

“As it hap­pened, my friend, who I went to Tech with back home, had also gone back to com­edy. My friend Ce­leste Ntuli.”

As if on cue, Mose­ley’s phone rings. Ntuli will be join­ing us a lit­tle later.

“So when I came back home, Ce­leste said: ‘You’re get­ting on stage! You must come and do com­edy.’ So I was very lucky I al­ready had a friend who was an es­tab­lished come­di­enne here.”

Mose­ley, who lives in Lon­don 80% of the time, started testing the lo­cal scene. She did five min­utes at Sway and was hired for a full set. The same hap­pened at Parker’s com­edy club.

“I wanted to do my com­edy for peo­ple at home and I thought, there’s so­cial me­dia, so I am able to give my fans here com­edy with­out be­ing here all the time.”

She’s had so many re­quests for a DVD that pro­duc­ing one is among her cur­rent projects. “It means peo­ple can have my com­edy with­out spend­ing their data stream­ing me.”

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