The sex may be sober, but the jokes are not

2020-03-19 13:00

Ntosh Madlingozi is gearing up for his show, Sober Sex, at the Auto and General Theatre on the Square in Sandton. And it’s no joke.

We met with the laid-back funnyman at the headquarters of local humour, the Goliath and Goliath offices in Randburg, on Thursday. Madlingozi had just returned from the Cape Town leg of his show, where he performed at The Mother City Comedy Festival.

The Goliath family has turned its family enterprise into the epicentre of local comedy. The small office reception area boasts three Comedy Choice Awards, and articles about Goliath and Goliath adorns the walls.

As we sat waiting at reception, comedian and club co-owner Jason Goliath was spotted outside, conducting a phone interview while sitting in a Beemer. Madlingozi could be heard exclaiming “Haich!” as Jason started up his fancy car.

Moments later the two walked into the reception area. Jason, rocking black Air Jordans to match his all-black ensemble, gave City Press a suspicious look as he walked in. Madlingozi, warmer and more welcoming, took us to a studio for our interview.

“I remember always wanting to be in entertainment,” he said. It was while watching the 1984 classic Stoney: The One and Only, with Ndaba Mhlongo and Treasure Tshabalala, that he realised that that was what he wanted to do, he said of his younger days.

After matric he wasn’t aware that studying drama was an option, and enrolled for a B.Com in marketing and management strategy instead.

“Then I got a job,” he chuckles. He started at an indie record label, Media Fusion, and enjoyed doing public relations and promotions. “After that I got a job with Assupol. They wanted me to train the marketers so I had to go do a course. The guy training asked me what I was doing there. He said I didn’t belong there and I should either be in entertainment or marketing.”

One of Madlingozi’s best friends suggested stand-up, which was daunting at first because he was shy. “I was like, what, stand up in front of people I don’t know and they don’t know me, and try make them laugh? F**k out of here, I’m not doing that bullsh**.”

But his friend got him a slot at 88 Club in Norwood, which used to have a regular comedy night. “In 2004 they had comedy there every Wednesday. I started going to more comedy shows and I realised whatever I thought I was going to do was not going to work. The guys I saw were just telling stories, but in a funny way. So that weekend I spent some time writing and working things out.”

He recalls the day of his comedy debut like it was yesterday – even the line-up, which featured Chris Forrest, Loyiso Gola and David Kibuuka, and had Martin Jonas as the host.

“Then there was a break and Martin Jonas said: ‘After the break we were going to have 10 minutes. If you think you’re funny, come up and try it out.’ ”

He was thinking this was his time, but a couple at the table in front of his beat him to the first slot.

“This guy went on and he was terrible. He didn’t last two minutes and he got booed. I was like ‘Sh**, they’re booing people!’ Then they asked for anyone else and I went on stage.”

He then proceeded to kill like he had never before, and his five-minute slot turned into 10 minutes.

“When I got off stage all these comedians wanted to speak to me. While I was performing David Kau, who was headlining, kept signalling to me on stage to cut my set as he had to follow,” he says, making the gesture for “cut it off” with his hand.

“Loyiso came up to me and asked how long I’d been doing this. I told him it was my first time and he was shocked. He invited me back the next week.”

The down-to-earth performer has not looked back since, and his flourishing 13-year-long career has seen him working as a stand-up comedian, and television and radio personality, as well doing cinematic and corporate work. He has appeared in films like Looking for Love (2018), Catching Feelings (2017), Wonder Boy for President (2016) and Of Good Report (2013). He has also expanded his range to TV, starring in shows such as Tjovitjo, Next of Next Week, The Mayor, The Bantu Hour, Check Coast and Late Night News.

Touching on the notion of sober sex, he explained how he has started to feel more deeply after giving up alcohol. “Four years ago I just had enough of drinking. Like: if I don’t stop, one of these bullets I’ve been missing is going to hit. Sober Sex is about me for the first time having sex sober. I wasn’t always drunk, but I would always have a drink. It was a different thing,” he chuckles.

He hopes people will enjoy his latest offering, an hour-long special, which signifies a maturation for him. “As I get older – not just age-wise but in comedy as well – it’s not just about being funny. When I started I had to be funny so people could recognise that there’s talent here.

“But now – I still have to be funny, obviously – but it’s more a question of am I interesting enough to keep these people engaged and glued to their seats.”

He will touch on more than sober sex. Everything from female and male dynamics to his observations of different people from varying walks of life is grist to his mill.

  • The show has since been postponed. Follow Madlingozi on social media for updates - @Ntosh_Madlingoz

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March 29 2020