OMEDIAN Mpho “Popps” Modikoane turns 30 on Saturday and is celebrating with a one-man show in Joburg. He shares some thoughts on his journey:
In my 20s, I learnt that I was not as mature as I thought I was. You assume that you move from teenager to adult just like that, but only towards my late 20s did I learn how to be a grown-up. I’ve also learnt how to be a father and how to be patient. Also, I learnt to love myself and look after myself.
If I could give my 20-year-old self any advice, it would be: Don’t worry too much about money. Whether you have it or don’t you’re still going to worry about it the same way. When it’s there you worry about keeping it and when it’s not there you worry about not having it. Just enjoy life.
In my 20s I found things like genitalia very funny. Also I used to find the disgusting things funny. Now that I’m older I feel I have a social responsibility to hold a mirror up to society. Now I find things like relationships funny, and what’s happening in the media — not necessarily just politics. I look at my old material now and I ask myself, how were people even laughing at this?
Girls don’t hide how they feel. Girls will drop their boyfriends and ask to take a picture with me. What they don’t realise is that I actually enjoy that process more than they do. It’s great when people admire you for your work. My best compliment is when someone sees me and they start laughing.
The worst thing you can say to a comedian is “say something funny”. If you saw your favourite stripper walking down the street, would you ask her to show you her boobs?
I gather material from conversations with my friends. I try to stay away from politics — there are already too many people making jokes about Malusi Gigaba’s wife. I’d rather talk about personal things.
If people don’t laugh, I get them to venture with me on why that joke wasn’t funny, so that we laugh together. As a comedian you have to learn to laugh at yourself.
I am first and foremost a comedian, but I also do other things. My business partner Ernest Nkosi and I are working on a National Spinning Premier League. We’re also doing some work in education and in advertising, and we are working on a sitcom.
My birthday show is not just about 30 years of my life but 30 years of what’s been happening in South Africa, and where I was at the time. It’s a homely set with music to match the themes and includes appearances by some of my friends. I plan to do a birthday gig every year. It shows a different side of me, including my journey as a father. This is the first time my five-year-old daughter will be watching me live on stage. — Rea Khoabane
• The Mpho Popps 30th birthday comedy special is on June 10 at the Lyric Theatre in Joburg, featuring Robby Collins, Loyiso Madinga, Tall Ass Mo and Tumi Morake. Tickets from R150 at Computicket.