‘This feels like a breakthrough’: comedian Loyiso Gola on his new Netflix show

‘This feels like a breakthrough’: comedian Loyiso Gola on his new Netflix show

March 24, 2021

He started out learning his craft on a school work experience programme. Now the comic is about to make history with the first standup special from Africa

It’s not every day a comedian can claim to have made history. Step forward Loyiso Gola, whose new Netflix show – its first ever standup special from Africa – was released this week. But if you’re looking for some expression of pride or excitement about that, Gola’s not your man. “It is meaningful,” he acknowledges, after a bit of arm-twisting. “But for me, I never really pegged myself as an African act. I just always thought of myself as a global act.”

You can see why. Based part-time in London (pre-pandemic, at least), Gola is a UK panel-show veteran, and a regular at what he calls “all those glorious festivals all round the world”. His 2018 Live at the Apollo turn, viewed 1.5m times online, teased British audiences to great effect – about Brexit, among other things. (“You are trying to leave Europe. Where are you going to go? Because you are not welcome in Africa!”) With one prior Netflix gig under his belt, on an all-South African Comedians of the World bill, Gola hopes his solo special will cement that international appeal. “I’m extremely nervous,” he tells me, Zooming from Johannesburg. “This feels like a breakthrough album. Sometimes you can feel the moment coming.”

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