Sunday Times - - COMEDY -

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.

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